Zombie Survival Sim ‘Project Zomboid’ Sees Massive Spike In Popularity

Project Zomboid is a decade old game now, but a recent major update has caused a huge surge in popularity for the game.

First released as a tech demo in 2011, Project Zomboid eventually launched on Steam in 2013 as an Early Access release. Since then, the game has received regular updates, and the most recent one has skyrocketed Project Zomboid to a new level of popularity. The update, called Build 41, massively improved the game. The developer, Indie Stone, even noted that it was closer to a sequel than an update. 

Credit: Indie Stone

It really does sound like it. The update introduced a huge animation and character overhaul, with smoother gameplay and combat, and more immersive animations. Your character is also now highly customisable, with those changes showing clothing and equipment in the world. And damage to your clothing is visible now too.

A map system has also been added that will allow players to better track their exploration around the huge map. There’s also a variety of new animations and movement systems to traverse said map. This includes sneaking, sprinting, reloading, climbing, and fence-jumping.

One of the biggest additions is a new multiplayer that has been built from the ground up. This has allowed for smooth and immersive, low-latency player and zombie movement. There’s a whole lot more in the update, almost too much to cover, including a new injury system, randomised environmental storytelling elements, new gameplay styles and challenges, and more.

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a decade of early access

Prior to the update, in November 2021, the player count averaged around 7,000 daily players (thanks PC Gamer). But Project Zomboid recently hit an all-time record of 65,505 players thanks to the update. Speaking with PC Gamer, Chris Simpson, coder and MD at Indie Stone, said “We knew we had something special brewing with build 41…

“We were hoping for a big spike of interest of course, but hoping and expecting are two completely different things, and the ridiculous magnitude of it was impossible to anticipate. The game competing in the top ten during the winter sale seems like science fiction frankly.”

The team also plans to stick with the Early Access label, even though it’s been in development for a decade. “Well we won’t quit until we consider it ‘done’, and we love the game dearly, but it’s been a decade,” says Simpson. “There’s obviously a burning desire to work on something new that any game dev gets after probably a year or two: We’ve been supressing that for far far longer! That’s why we’re sticking with Early Access until we consider it ‘done’, it doesn’t need to be perfect but it needs to be something we’d look back on without thinking ‘we never did get to do X though’.”

You can check out Project Zomboid on Steam to understand the hype yourself.

Featured Image Credit: Indie Stone