Stardew Valley is a farming simulator game released in 2016 after five years of development. It was the first game made by Eric Barone AKA Concerned Ape. It’s inspired by the fanus farming simulator series, Harvest Moon. It proved to be a massive success, selling over 15 million copies by 2021. It even gained the praise of the creator of The Harvest Moon series! So, why is a game about farming of all things so popular? One would think it would be boring but it’s really not.
One reason is the atmosphere. SDV takes place in the small town of Pelican Town. It establishes its cozy atmosphere immediately, from the country music to the smallness of the town. It feels homey, much more relaxed than the hustle bustle of the city. The residents have colorful personalities and their own schedules that have no input from the player. The sprite work is nice, with bright green grass in the summer and pure white snow in the winter. The entire game creates an atmosphere of a nice town that makes the player feel relaxed when they play.
The other reason is the routine of it. In SDV, you tend to do most of the same things everyday. You farm, explore caves, and talk to your favorite townsfolk. However, it is addicting to do. When you farm, you know when your crops will be ready for harvest and can look forward to the profits, as all the little things you do everyday lead to big events in the future. Stardew Valley works by making sure there is always something to look forward to or something to work towards. Stardew Valley also only saves when you go to sleep at night, which means it has the “I’ll do just one more day” mentality. All this means that Stardew Valley is almost impossible to put down!
Stardew Valley is just one example of a farming simulator and a great way to see why the genre is still thriving. The Harvest Moon series continues to be popular to this day. A great farming simulator establishes a cozy atmosphere and a routine that allows something for the player to look forward to. As long as games continue to do so, the genre will continue to grow.