'We win… and it's your fault!'—Dwarf Fortress hits almost half a million sold in under a month

Dwarf Fortress
(Image credit: Bay 12 Games)

The storming success of Dwarf Fortress continues apace. DF programmer and co-designer, Tarn Adams, announced this week that the game's "premium" Steam version sold almost half a million copies last month after its December 6 release. It seems like people are queueing around the block to spend money on a game that's been freely available for 16 years, and rightly so: Dwarf Fortress is an incredible and incredibly unique game.

The news means that DF has torn its pre-release sales estimates to shreds. Before the game's Steam version came out, an economist enlisted by its publisher—Kitfox—tentatively predicted that it would sell around 160,000 copies over the course of its first two months on Steam. It hit that within 24 hours of release. It's now reached more or less triple that number of sales in less than a month.

"Dwarf Fortress is a wild success it seems," says Adams, "but it is all an illusion without you." Adams, writing under the "Toady One" nickname he's used since before DF's first public release, continues, "none of this was possible without the support of the people that helped us out [...] along these amazing 20 years, by far the best in my life [...] We win... and it’s your fault!"

He's not wrong. Since December 6, Tarn Adams and his brother, DF co-developer Zach Adams, have had to confront two life-changing new realities. Number one: The brothers are now millionaires thanks to the game's success. Number two: They've had to hire a second programmer.

DF's Steam release was originally planned to let the brothers afford healthcare costs and better take care of themselves as they continued to tinker with their life's work. I think they can manage that now. At this rate, it won't be long before the game has sold over a million copies. When PCG's Wes Fenlon spoke to Tarn Adams in 2019, he asked what the brothers would do with the money if the game sold that well. Adams had one answer: "You know, there are a lot of people and animals and other stuff that are in trouble. Kids that don't have school supplies. All kinds of stuff. It's like Brewster’s Millions, right? You've just got to get rid of it, man, that's how I feel about it."

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.