Vampire Survivors, the roguelike shoot-em-up that has been a success in 2022, took everyone by surprise, but no one more than its creator, Luca “poncle” Galante.
Galante began developing Vampire Survivors while out of work in 2020., drawing inspiration from the mobile game Magic Survival and Galante’s past experience developing eye-catching graphics for slot machines. He never intended for Vampire Survivors to become big: he just wanted to do something fun and run a small community around it.
Vampire Survivors launched in early access in December 2021. Now, just over a year later, it’s garnered massive concurrent player counts on Steam, the full game has been released, it’s received DLC, it’s released on mobile , which has seen more than a million downloads in a week, has received critical acclaim and has been nominated for The Game Awards for best new indie game.
Galante has been interviewed before about Vampire Survivors’ unexpected success upon its release, and months later, he tells IGN that its continued acclaim is “as unexpected throughout all these months as it was at the beginning.” His sales have allowed him to create a company and hire other people to help him work on Vampire Survivors, as well as other possible future projects. And together they have achieved their personal goals for Vampire Survivors much faster than I had initially hoped, including bringing it to more platforms and adding more content. In fact, version 1.0 (released in October) contains more than double the content that Galante had initially envisioned.
The award nominations and win are Galante’s most recent successes. Galante is delighted, of course, though he doesn’t seem very surprised that his project has ended up in the same scenario as games like Elden Ring and God of War: Ragnarok.
“It’s been amazing to be nominated for The Game Awards alongside other real developers. Over the past year, every time I thought we’d gotten to the point of absurdity, something new would come out that surpassed what came before.
“While it’s hard for me to believe that Vampire Survivors deserves all this attention, I’m glad it’s getting it, especially since it shows that literally anyone could do it, and hopefully encourages more indie developers to continue their projects.” . I don’t say it because of “my good heart”, but because of selfishness: I want more and more Celestes, Undertales, Powerwash Simulators, Wandersongs and Short Hikes to receive the prominence they deserve.”
I want to see more Celestes, Undertales, Powerwash Simulators, Wandersongs, and Short Hikes getting the limelight they deserve.
But in the midst of all that success, Galante continues to without knowing exactly why people like Vampire Survivors so much.
“I have no idea, and that scares me a lot,” he says. “Since launch, I’ve tried not to look at the numbers or what’s happening on the internet, specifically not to get too carried away, I’ve kept my head down and continued to work on the game and the company, focusing almost entirely on player feedback on Discord and on the Steam forums, I’m sure what made the difference has been our community managers who have done and continue to do an amazing job of maintaining communication with players.”
He later adds that he believes that the growing audience playing on Steam Deck has helped the success of Vampire Survivors (although it’s by no means the only factor) due to its “pick up and play” nature… and it doesn’t hurt that it’s perfectly suited to the Steam Deck’s aspect ratio.
Vampire Survivors just received its first paid DLC, Legacy of the Moonspell, which adds thirteen new weapons, eight characters and a new setting. Galante says that while he originally had no plans for the DLC, the success of early access for Vampire Survivors made him want to give something back to players. His idea for the DLC then came from his memories of playing Final Fantasy Tactics and Valkyrie Profile years ago and wanted to pay a small amount of money for more settings or characters, perhaps getting a demo disc with a magazine subscription. .
“As a gamer, I love the idea of still being able to get content for the games I love, but nowadays I get the feeling that DLC is designed around monetization and not around good player service. “, it states. “Having a negative preconceived idea of DLC, I was very hesitant to try to make one, but I couldn’t keep adding things either [a Vampire Survivors] for fun while there was company to think about. And just like that, here comes the DLC! My biggest hope is that we’ve managed to make it a fair deal for the players and that they like it, that’s something I as a player would love to see in stores.”
I spoke with Galante right after the release of Vampire Survivors on Xbox and mobile, so naturally I was curious about other platforms, such as Switch (which I had already teased might be in the works) and PlayStation. Nevertheless, he was coy about whether or not we will see any of these releases in the future.
“The good thing about being independent is that we can do almost anything, as long as everyone on the team agrees,” he says. “Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to talk specifically about other platforms, as our marketing team might give me a hard time… really, who cares, Let me tell you, one day I hope to release it on Vita!“.
Galante he was equally coy about plans for future games: right now the focus is entirely on Vampire Survivors which, despite the name and updates and DLC, still doesn’t include a single vampire.
Will it some day?
“Our marketing team says we can’t answer that, but who cares…” says Galante, who then adds that he loves the game’s marketing team. “The problem is that our legal team said the same thing, besides, what is a vampire?”