Dwarf Fortress creators get their first Steam cheque, and it’s big

Brothers Tarn and Zach Adams, the developers of Dwarf Fortress, have now received their first payout from Steam - a big cheque for more than $7 million.

Dwarf Fortress: low-resolution pixel art of two bearded dwarves in combat, one holds a shield and holds a hammer while the other strikes with a sword

It’s a bountiful harvest season in Dwarf Fortress land, and this time, the crop isn’t plump helmets – it’s cold, hard cash. Brothers Tarn and Zach Adams have posted their monthly earnings report for their legendary colony management game, and January’s earnings – the first to include sales of the new Steam edition of Dwarf Fortress – totaled more than $7 million USD.

The exact amount for January is $7,230,123.58 USD, which works out to about £5,900,286.95 GBP. Not bad, especially considering that just the month before, the brothers pulled in $15,635.07.

“So, yeah, all the gears have turned and that’s what we got, mostly yesterday,” Tarn Adams writes on the Bay 12 Games forum. He says “a little less than half” will go to taxes, and that they’re paying for new staff and business expenses, so not all of it is going to the Adams’ personal bank accounts.

However, Tarn says, what’s left over has “safeguarded the future of the game” and allowed the brothers to bring in a new programmer to help with coding – a task that until quite recently had fallen entirely to Tarn.

Zach Adams had a rather poetic response that is moving in its humility.

“The fairytale ending is reality, but you didn’t kiss the toad. You gave him money,” he writes. “The appreciation you give us is part of our being now. It carries us in the cars we drive. It sustains us as the food that we eat. There is now no longer any existence except the one that you have provided.

“When we pass from this world, you will be the reason we are remembered,” he says.

That’s a depth of gratitude few people get to experience, much less express to countless faithful fans – and if anyone’s earned it, it’s the Adams brothers and their families. Dwarf Fortress is a passion project they’ve been working on for more than 20 years now.

Check out our list of great building games on PC if you’re looking for new ways to strike the earth.