Vampire Survivors Changed The Game Industry

A new milestone has been planted and we were right here when it happened.

By Daavpuke, Posted 28 Dec 2022

The 2022 bingo card has had some doozies, such as Bill Clinton trending for a while and outliers squeezing into the conversation. Let's focus on the latter. For instance, Dwarf Fortress released a fully made version, to surprisingly overwhelming success, after spending ages in a free version. People were eager to spend money on a free game, it turns out. Earlier, Vampire Survivors bucked the trend in its own way, offering a tiny experience for just a few bucks. It hasn't stopped delivering since.

With seemingly never-ending replay value, Vampire Survivors has penetrated the zeitgeist as one of the most successful games this year. Instead of hiding in the shadows of giants, the game that was molded mostly by one person stands as a peer next to Elden Ring or God of War; monolithic structures with multi-million budgets. Better yet, this game does so at a fraction of the cost for the consumer as well. It's been quite some time since a similar occurrence achieved such an impact. Soulja Boy mentioned Braid that one time. That was pretty big.

Vampire Survivors, Artwork, Changed Gaming Industry, NoobFeed GOTY 2022

The success of Vampire Survivors began at the start of the year. Perfect for that post-holiday dip, after you've played all the blockbusters you got, the small game hooked itself to your eyes with a few neat tricks. Most of the game plays out without inputs. There is a character and a map, but combat is automated and most of the focus goes to leveling up, by picking up gems. With levels, players choose more potent abilities that help fend off the growing horde around them. It's a deceptively easy concept that's immediately evident. All that's left is trying to build the best possible loadout and watching the chaos unfold.

Along with the ease of access, the game pairs the action with stimulus overload. It's like the craziest arcade you've ever seen, with damage numbers by the hundreds flying around, multitudes of enemies moving, things dying and leaving dozens of gems to pick up. Everything is happening all at once in this game. Going one tier higher, chests can fall from minibosses that amplify this jackpot feeling even more. In a reductive way, most of Vampire Survivors boils down to noises and flashing lights, but it crafts this in the exact arc to keep you coming back. Where a lot of games resort to dark patterns for their stimuli, this gameplay offers the dopamine freely, without ulterior motives.

There are even more systems there, like more maps, modes, unlocks and so on, but this isn't a review. If you, by some chance, haven't played Vampire Survivors yet, you should correct that mistake right now. The game even launched a mobile version for free, which it announced at The Game Awards. That's how deep this phenomenon has come. There's room for Vampire Survivors in the commercial reels of The Game Awards.

Vampire Survivors, Artwork, Changed Gaming Industry, NoobFeed GOTY 2022

A few weeks after its success became apparent, by being a constant on the Steam top seller chart, the waves of this release started rippling. Again, most of the game is deceptively simple in its concept. Simple visuals, simple layout, simple combat; it's all too easy. As such, it only took weeks for the first games to launch that tried to mimic Vampire Survivors. Slap some assets together, put them on a map, construct the progression and you're good to go on selling your own auto-battler.

That's the genre name people settled on, auto-battler, after these copycats started popping out. Vampire Survivors, but it's mechs. Vampire Survivors, but it's cartoons. Every day, another one of these mimics would populate the Steam store. With the cost of any one game being only a few bucks, it's been especially enticing for opportunistic developers to try and grab a piece of the pie. Since its release, there have been countless other variations on the model:

Soulstone Survivors, Bounty of One, Spellbook Demonslayers, Brotato, Boneraiser Minions, Nomad Survival, Further Still: Survivors, Project Lazarus, Rogue: Genesia.

Each of these names spin the concept with new visuals or a differing progression. Games like Sexy Mystic Survivors offer sexy anime demons in deeply compromised positions to get your attention. All of them, however, are transparent in what they're trying to achieve: They're just trying to be Vampire Survivors.

Sexy Mystic Survivors, Vampire Survivors, Artwork, Changed Gaming Industry, NoobFeed GOTY 2022

It's unlikely that you've heard of more than one of those titles or the deluge of similar games with Chinese names. These games are selling their copies as well, but they're not reaching the same kind of market penetration. In previous times, it was more likely that one's success would be shouldered by a competitor fairly quickly. If you liked DotA, then you've probably at least heard of League of Legends. When auto-chess started growing, there was an immediate split between the original, DotA Underlords and Teamfight Tactics. It's now been a full year and the one true auto-battler still stands alone.

Vampire Survivors perfected its genre, before it even existed.

They got it done in one, which is as much a stroke of luck as it is genius. Additionally, the developer hasn't been resting on its laurels. As the player base grew exponentially, the game was able to offer small but meaningful updates on a regular basis. It doesn't matter when you came to Vampire Survivors, because there has always been more to do. By now, the game is a giant of its own, absolutely brimming with ways to play.

On Steam alone, the game boasts over 160,000 reviews, while maintaining a 98% positive score. That in itself is a unique occurrence. When is the last time that the whole world has agreed that a single game is good? It doesn't hurt that its minimum requirements are a Pentium 4, a processor chip that was made twenty whole years ago. If you bought a computer in the last two decades, you can play one of the best games this year. You wouldn't be able to do the same for Elden Ring.

Vampire Survivors, Artwork, Changed Gaming Industry, NoobFeed GOTY 2022

It's been many years since any game has been this pivotal. We now live in a post-Vampire Survivors world, where all we can do is wait and see what its sphere of influence will achieve. What will be the first blockbuster to implement some of the auto-battler's systems? One thing's certain: the game industry will look back on this moment in time. A new milestone has been planted and we were right here when it happened.

Daav Valentaten (@DaavPuke)
Editor-In-Chief, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC, Mobile
Publisher(s): Poncle
Developer(s): Poncle
Genres: Shoot-'Em-Up
Themes: Roguelike
Release Date: 2022-10-20

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