Dwarf Fortress has sold over 160k units in just 24 hours since its release, and this is not only a monumental feat for the developers but quite shocking as well. Sales were projected to hit 160k units sold in a two-month period, not overnight. So what could this blast in sales be from?
Dwarf Fortress Sales Skyrocket Overnight
The developers at Bay 12 Games and publishers at Kitfox Games enlisted the help of an economist prior to the colony sims release in an attempt to predict how many copies would sell. Why would the devs want this? Well, after 16 years as a free download on Bay 12 Game's website, the team wanted to see how well it might do over a two-month period. The numbers were not projected to be staggering or anything crazy whatsoever; around 160,000 copies were projected to be sold over the next two months.
Dwarf Fortress hit that sales goal in 24 hours. But how was the projection so far off? Kitfox's economist describes these projections as "trying to drive with the rearview mirror,", meaning that now the devs projected two-month sales goal has gone from just over 100,000 to 2 million in a day. We know that forecasts and projections are just predictions based on a massive amount of data and numbers, but it is nearly impossible to properly predict how Steam's algorithms will behave. Picture trying to fish up the lochness monster, blindfolded and with no definitive geographical location in mind. The odds of doing so are quite slim if you just guess based on data you found on the internet, as things are constantly shifting and changing.
Steam's algorithm seems to have played a huge part in this extreme boost in sales, and I'm going to explain a bit about how it works for context. Colony sims and sim games in general do very well on Steam, and with that data in mind, that tells you a lot of people are looking for sims and colony sims specifically. If you have ever used your queue, you will notice that a lot of those games have similar tags and categories, and those games in your queue are based upon searches you have made on Steam, and games you have downloaded in the past. That means that those gamers who have looked at colony sims or sims in general most likely had this game in their queue, decided to give it a go, and just fell in love with Dwarf Fortress.
The sheer number of sales this game hit in such a short period of time after being free to play for over a decade is not only shocking, but absolutely mind boggling. Hopefully, the developers and publishers are both proud of the great work they did and see that all of the blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights were well with it.