How ‘Vampire Survivors’ Went From Obscurity to 27,000 People Playing at Once

There are, as of this writing, more than 27,000 people playing a $3 game on Steam called Vampire Survivors. That’s more than games like The Elder Scrolls Online, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Phasmophobia, and just below God of War and The Witcher 3. Vampire Survivors, a mashup of clickers and roguelikes that’s obsessed with the aesthetics of Castlevania, is an early surprise for 2022. It’s, uh, also a surprise for the game’s designer, because when Vampire Survivors launched on December 17, eight people were playing.

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Sometimes it’s nice to play something small, you know? I’m enjoying it a lot. I did check out Magic Survival, which is also neat, and they’re very similar. I think the smartest thing VS does differently is having defeated monsters drop XP gems. It provides tension ad challenge- you’re always kiting away from monsters, so how do you loop back around to get your reward? It also gives the otherwise plain battlefield some texture, as coming across a cluster of gems speaks of the numbers you slew.

It also lets you become very overpowered if you survive long enough to approach the end of a run.