Dwarf Fortress sales hit nearly 500,000 in December

Tarn and Zach Adams colony management game Dwarf Fortress blew away publisher expectations and sold nearly half a million copies in its first month on Steam

Dwarf Fortress sales numbers: A trio of cartoony dwarves ventures into a dark cave, one is armed with a sword, another with a torch, and the third wearing a nervous expression

It’s been scarcely a month since it launched on Steam, and the Dwarf Fortress sales have been, in a word, good. According to the latest report from developer Bay 12 Games, the paid version of its intricate colony management game sold nearly half a million copies in December – a rather astonishing feat for a 20-year-old game that’s still available (in its non-graphical form) for free.

“The launch went great,” Tarn Adams writes in the latest edition of The Bay 12 Games Report, a monthly forum post that reports on the company’s collected donations. “We won’t have all the specific numbers until mid-February when everything has been processed through Valve and Kitfox, but the game sold almost half a million copies in December, which is awesome.”

The success has allowed Bay 12, which has consisted solely of the two Adams brothers for most of its existence, to hire a new programmer to help with bug fixes and quality of life improvements for Dwarf Fortress. That person should begin sometime in January, and Tarn Adams writes that it’ll free him up to spend more time working on new features.

He says the next major addition to Dwarf Fortress will be arena mode, and once that’s ready he’ll begin working on adventure mode, which will allow players to turn Dwarf Fortress into a roguelike game in which they explore the ruins of their own doomed fortresses.

Despite Dwarf Fortress’ roaring success on Steam, however, the brothers still have a month to wait before they reap the financial rewards. That means fan contributions are still important.

“Support us directly and you can make a measurable difference,” Zach Adams writes. “We need the coffee money to make it through this last month. That’s it! We win… and it’s your fault!”

The traditional Dwarf Fortress slogan could use an update, perhaps: “Losing is fun, but winning – that is also fun.”