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Stardew Valley blooms into surprise Steam Deck champion

Despite repeatedly ranking high in the official playtime chart for Valve's handheld gaming PC, the farming game is only now at the top.

Stardew Valley villager Lewis, against a blurred snowdy background, displayed on a Steam Deck

Stardew Valley now occupies the coveted top spot in Valve’s official monthly Steam Deck playtime chart, as players flock to their farms on the handheld following the game’s enormous 1.6 update. However, it isn’t the only indie game pushing its way towards the front, ahead of longstanding favorites.

Ever since the Steam Deck hit the scene, Stardew Valley emerged as one of the best Steam Deck games out there, and it’s remained a favorite. The farming game’s vibes are all the cozier on the handheld, particularly when paired with matching seasonal surroundings.

An X post by OnDeck, listing the twenty most popular games on Steam Deck (sorted by playtime)

Stardew Valley has shot up the leaderboard from its #8 position last month, near-enough swapping places with the previous champion, Palworld, which has tumbled down to #7. As previously mentioned, the reason for this surge in popularity is undoubtedly due to the Stardew Valley 1.6 update, which has pushed the game’s player count to new heights.

While Stardew flies the indie flag triumphantly at the head of the pack, it’s followed closely by two other indies, Balatro (#2) and Helldivers 2 (#3). Their popularity is all the more impressive given that both games find themselves in front of the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3 (#4) and Elden Ring (#5), much as we’re sure the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC will result in Elden Ring taking the Steam Deck throne in a few months.

The only new entry for this month is Last Epoch (#12), which has handily seen off Diablo 4 as the preferred Action RPG on Steam Deck (at least for now). However, March 2024 does see the return of three favorites, Vampire Survivors (#17), Dave the Diver (#18), and Fallout 4 (#19) which have all made at least eight prior appearances in playtime charts.

The resurgence of Vampire Survivors is also particularly welcome, given the game’s long history with the Steam Deck. It’s appeared in 19 of the 20 playtime charts shared by Valve, topping six of them. Suffice it to say, it’s a certified classic for the handheld.

Given that Dragon’s Dogma 2 Steam Deck performance is so poor that the game has earned itself an ‘Unsupported’ compatibility rating, we’re not surprised by its absence, despite its popularity on the desktop. Looking to the month ahead, we’re curious to see whether Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West can muster enough popularity to enter the top 20.

To get the most out of your Steam Deck library, check out our best Steam Deck accessories guide to take your handheld setup that much further. Alternatively, if you’re still considering picking up a portable PC, check out our Steam Deck OLED review for more details on Valve’s device.