The Long Dark — Two Year Anniversary
Two years ago — on September 22nd, 2014 — we brought The Long Dark to Steam Early Access. It was a newer platform back then. Survival games weren’t truly a “genre” unto themselves yet. We were still hitting our stride as an independent developer, about 18 months into development and only 11 months after we wrapped up our successful Kickstarter.
We had released an early version of the game to some of our Kickstarter backers, and we were thrilled to have some feedback. The notion of community-informed development was still pretty new to us back then, with the team mostly coming from traditional “triple-A” development backgrounds. We were used to working on games for years without being able to talk about them, pushing them out the door when they were as ready as we could make them, and crossing our fingers in hope that people would like them.
The idea of releasing an early, unfinished, unpolished version of the game was both tremendously exciting, and scary as hell. What if people hated it? We knew The Long Dark didn’t really fit into the traditional mold — which was precisely the reason we had embarked on creating it. But really, apart from 7000 Kickstarter Backers who trusted our vision enough to give us their money, we had no idea if anyone would like what we had made.
Launching on Steam, in Early Access, was a turning point for us. On our first day, The Long Dark appeared in the #4 slot on Steam’s Top Sellers list. In the first month, we sold over 40,000 copies. We thought that was pretty good. By the end of January, 2015, we had sold over 250,000 copies. Today, across Steam and Xbox One, more than 950,000 people have contributed to the development of The Long Dark.
We know we’ve missed promised Story Mode dates. We’ve not always been able to get updates out as frequently as we would have liked. Not everything we’ve added to the game has been universally loved (*cough* intestinal parasites *cough). We’ve produced nearly 300 builds and over 75 public updates. Our team has grown from about 8 developers in September 2014, to nearly 25 today. We have a studio on Vancouver Island and are about to open a Hinterland Outpost in Vancouver. Tens of millions of play hours have been logged. Millions of people have watched the game played on YouTube and Twitch. The Long Dark has been analyzed critically by academics, has been incorporated into philosophy and literature curriculum as a case study of “vulnerability”, it’s helped people suffering from anxiety issues find some peace, while also managing to challenge veteran outdoorspeople and survivalists. Seeing one game be so many things to so many people is one of the most rewarding things in the world.
It’s even attracted the attention of some notable Canadian icons, like Margaret Atwood! (One of my personal high points on this project, so far!)
I’ve been fortunate to see this game grow from the kernel of an idea. What started as a deeply personal journey about striking out to the proverbial “hinterlands” of the games industry, has evolved into an artistic survival experience that has touched many people’s lives. It’s also provided the team at Hinterland with meaningful work and a way to provide for our respective families and dependents. For you, it is $20 and (hopefully) dozens of hours of escapism. For us, it is a calling, a livelihood. For me, it has become integral to the very fabric of my being.
Thank you for the faith you have put in us. Every day we strive to live up to it. We hope you have enjoyed the last two years of The Long Dark. Here’s to many more years! (But not too many more without Story Mode.)
You are the best of us.
To celebrate this anniversary with us, we’re giving all of you the exact version of The Long Dark we launched on Steam Early Access on September 22nd, 2014. For one week only, you can access it on Steam, by the following:
- Right-click The Long Dark in your Steam library
- Select Properties
- Click the Betas tab
- Enter the code: h1nterland2014
- Select the build from the dropdown: build_sept22_2014
Steam should automatically update to this old 2014 build. To revert back to the current build, simply Opt Out of Betas from the Betas tab, and Steam should update back to the current Main Branch build.
REMEMBER! Gameplay has changed substantially since 2014, so things may not work the way you are used to. Please help each other out! Also, please note that you will not find current saves in the old build.
We’ll leave this build live for about a week, and then will shut it down. So enjoy it!
We’ve also put together a little video to commemorate this anniversary. We hope you like it!