Project Zomboid Takes 9 Years To Go Viral


Every gamer has probably fantasized about what they would do in a real zombie apocalypse. They likely imagine they’d do pretty well, having finely tuned gaming survival skills.

Well, Project Zomboid is here to show the average person just how badly they’d actually fare when facing hordes of the undead. In fact, anyone thinking they’d last for more than a few days is about to get a serious wake-up call.

But wait for a second, hasn’t Project Zomboid been in development since 2013? It has indeed, and it’s also been the subject of immense controversy. Development studio The Indie Stone is well known to have made several disastrous blunders over the years, the most prominent involving the theft of a pair of office laptops. The laptops were reportedly stolen, both of which held game code that no one had backed up.

But not letting good publicity go to waste, The Indie Stone later gave a talk famously titled ‘How (Not) To Make A Game.’


Survival Of The Fittest

Many declared Project Zomboid dead years ago, with the saltiest players often hurling accusations of game abandonment at The Indie Stone. But the team soldiered on regardless, finally releasing Build 41 on December 20th, 2021. The update included almost an entire overhaul, featuring countless new animations, new survival systems, staggering amounts of new 3D models, and a metric ton of virtual real estate.

Since then, average player numbers have gone from around 7,000 to a peak of just over 65,000.

It’s exceedingly rare that a game finds its stride so many years after its original conception, so this says a lot about the power of persistence.

But what exactly is it about another zombie simulator that is drawing so much attention?


Face A Real Zombie Apocalypse

Project Zomboid takes a rather unusual approach as far as survival games are concerned. It has an unrelenting focus on realism that almost defies belief.

Featuring an isometric view like smash-hit Diablo, players take control of a customized character in a staggeringly accurate representation of a small town. The idea is, as the genre title suggests, to survive.

But here are the kickers.

First, each character gets a list of balancing traits, negative and positive. The character may be, for example, good at shooting and running, but poor at remaining concealed. There are so many potential traits that gamers may make a pretty accurate representation of themselves. If they are brave enough…

The second kicker is that a character is as brittle as a real human. Not just in terms of needing food and water, but also in needing sleep, getting sad or depressed, panicking, and even getting weak and physically fatigued. Try to jump a fatigued character over a fence, and watch as they scramble feverishly, only to fall back to the ground.

The final kicker is that a single zombie bite will 100% result in death. In a world with literally thousands of zombies, the picture should now be rather clear. Yes, the game is ruthlessly difficult, so much so that less focused players may well get frustrated.


A Wave Of New Content

Opinions on The Indie Stone may vary, but the fact of the matter is that the studio has delivered wave after wave of updates over the years. Just taking into account that hundreds of clothing items exist in the game, all of which appear accurately on the in-game model, the amount of work must have been soul-destroying. Plus, none of this new content has ever needed anything from existing players for it to get utilized. It’s all there, all the time.

Borderlands 3 shift codes, for example, require that players enter codes to unlock additional content. In Project Zomboid each injection of new content is provided via a free, instant update. It’s still a matter of opinion whether Build 41 has been redeemed. Regardless of what the studio thinks, the game still hasn’t been finished after almost a decade.

But that hardly seems to matter given that 65,000 players are an achievement that speaks for itself.


Like Science Fiction, Frankly

The Indie Stone coder and MD, Chris Simpson, shared some thoughts about the recent overwhelming success of the game. He said plainly that seeing Project Zomboid competing for the top spot on Steam felt like science fiction.

He explained his team knew that Build 41 was something special, though no one dared to imagine just how successful it would end up being.


Page Title: Long-Running Project Zomboid Finally Finds Success | FizX

Description: Highly innovative survival horror game, Project Zomboid was released in 2013. Nine years later, it’s finally getting the attention it always rightly deserved.


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