Nearly a decade ago, Minecraft was released for the first time. It introduced a new generation of gamers to a world completely their own. Creativity abound, they were given near limitless freedom to craft and survive within a specific, light ruleset to abide by. This ended up being a trendsetter; besides becoming the most profitable game of all time, it inspired a very large variety of games to come. Among them was a recent hit for the masses: Valheim, something of a curious surge in the Survival Co-Op genre in recent years. With its immense success, it’s easy to ask: Are Survival Co-Op games the next big thing in the gaming world?
The following is comprised of data collected through optional polls and viewer responses. What all was collected includes:
- 2,223 respondents through eight questions.
- Polls running between the beginning of March and the end of June, 2021.
The following is information collected in more detailed form, going over every aspect of the graph listed above. Summarized information and some occasional discussion will also be present.
Recent Trends: How Often Do You Play Valheim?
With such popularity, its easy to imagine that Valheim is enjoying a nice spring of daily playtime among its players. Given the genre, there’s are many difficult survival mechanics that encourage replayability and experimentation. Like Minecraft before it, the core essence may boil down to its staying power. So how often do people actually spend playing the new hit game?
Some may be surprised to see that despite its success, Valheim doesn’t seem to have touched everyone (yet?). Aside from having never played it, there are far more answers for “Somewhat” than “Always.” It may go to show that while a game can sell multiple truckloads of games within a certain span, getting people to stay onboard is another issue entirely. For an Early Access title, this may mean some trouble down the line getting people to come back. Only the future will tell.
Recent Trends: Will Valheim Overtake Fortnite in Popularity?
We all know it—or if not “it,” specifically, the memes and cultural dances it’s spawned. Fortnite is a phenomenon, a blessing (or scourge, depending on who you ask) to the world that, like Valheim, took the world by storm. Even now, it’s among the most-played games ever. Still, with a new wave of games on the way, would it be enough to see its player count be knocked down permanently? Do people believe Valheim will lead the charge?
The colorful building-fest may prove too powerful. A staple in the current generation of young and old gamers alike, it would take something truly substantial, truly groundbreaking to “overthrow” it. Even so, Valheim‘s phenomenal rise to stardom is nothing to sneeze at, and the developers should feel encouraged by the progress. It may not be a “Fortnite-killer,” but it’s made its mark on the gaming population forever.
Detailing Survival Co-Op: Do They Need a Fantasy/Mythical Setting?
You think of games like Valheim, Don’t Starve Together, Minecraft, etc. What do they all have in common? A very prominent “This is not quite real life” aesthetic. Others have come out that are slightly more true to real life, such as Rust, though these tend to be a little less common. It could lead one to believe that the most successful survival co-ops need to have some distinct “hook” to them, most noticeable by their aesthetic or setting choice. However, is it really necessary for a survival co-op to have a mythical/fantasy setting?
Despite how it may appear, most players don’t mind the setting of these games. Perhaps they’re more focused on the core gameplay aspects—how it works, how buggy it may be; all that fun stuff. Would you prefer an ugly game that works wonderfully or a beautiful game that barely works? Such may be the deciding factor, though having both beautiful atmosphere and great gameplay is obviously the best case scenario.
Detailing Survival Co-Op: Are RPG or Management Elements More Important?
When it comes to survival, there are a variety of things that should be emphasized. Dangers that lurk, inventory space limitations, providing ample opportunity for the player to wiggle their way out of things. Though when it comes to the larger picture, what exactly is the priority for gamers? Survival Co-Ops come in many different shapes and forms. So what’s more preferable in gameplay: RPG or Management elements?
Immersion is the benefactor here. Role-playing is one that, even outside of games, has been prominent in human culture for a long while. Historical re-enactments, acting, performances, etc. In hindsight, it shouldn’t be too surprising to know that role-playing in games is among the most enticing offers. While management tactics are another necessity to survival, role-playing is a primary factor that has players flocking toward these games.
Talking Point: Is Co-Op Better Than PVP?
While neither co-op play nor player versus player (PVP) are new to games, both have a prominent place within the medium. Some game types, such as MMOs, offer both, whether temporarily or permanently. Though from my personal perspective, PVP tends to be the most common setting, with co-op used as more of a “feature” than anything. Now with the recent trend of these “survive together” types releasing yearly, it may be better to ask: Is co-op a better option than PVP?
While it may be fun to ruin friendships, working together seems to be the overwhelming favorite. Enjoying the company of others, thriving off communication via voice chat and thwarting off obstacles with those you trust; it cannot be compared. It gets more people playing, it provides better opportunity to forge new companionship. And it could better expose how well you work together with people as a team. I suppose that’d be interesting to test in theory.
Talking Point: Is Survival Co-Op Better Than Battle Royale?
Outside the realm of Valheim vs. Fortnite, there’s also the prospect of Survival Co-Op vs. Battle Royale. The latter has remained an incredibly popular genre, spawning games such as the aforementioned Fortnite, PUBG, and even Tetris 99. The former, on the other hand, is starting to gain steam upon the once seemingly unshakeable class of games. So let’s leave it to the players: Which is better among Battle Royale and Survival Co-Op?
In this regard, it seems almost like a no-brainer for voters. Survival Co-Ops are the style nowadays, with Battle Royales being old news. Not to insinuate either is truly “better” than the other; opinions are subjective. For the sake of the poll, it appears many are in support of Survival Co-Op becoming the mainstay of the gaming world at present. At least until the next big gaming craze.
Selling Point: Is the Relatively Low Cost of Survival Co-Ops Enticing?
Can you even think of any Survival Co-Op games that cost the normal retail price of standard AAA games? While many Battle Royales are free, they come with a smorgasbord of in-game microtransactions that end up luring people into paying more than they would for a standard-price AAA game, anyway. Survival Co-Ops aren’t generally this way, even if they ask for more upfront, like ye olden days. Is this a motivating factor for their popularity?
It should come as no surprise that if your game is cheap, it will likely entice. Indie games with little to no publicity often average between $10-20, even if their quality may be on par with their larger counterparts. And making things free to play often brings in far more players that a money-wall would prevent. These low-cost Survival Co-Op games, barring any substantial lack of quality, proves to be a great formula for success.
The Final Answer: Are Survival Co-Ops the Next Big Thing?
With all that’s been covered, it’s time to finally get to the main topic. All the information about how it compares to Battle Royale, its benefits and cost, and how its elements tie into gaming culture and player preference. Are Survival Co-Op games the next big thing in gaming, according to players?
It’s actually much closer than I initially thought it would be. While “yes” won out, there’s a vocal opposition that believes Survival Co-Op is either a current fad or not as strongly influential as it may seem. Nevertheless, it seems the popular genre is here to stay, at least for a considerable enough amount of time. May as well grab your nearest friend and be prepared to explore worlds dedicated to striking you down.
(Video by GamingBolt.)