Many gamers have wondered why Dwarf Fortress is finally coming to Steam 12 years after the game's initial release, and co-creator Tarn Adams finally has an answer: healthcare.
So far, the game and its developers have relied on crowdfunding, but Adams and his brother Zach have reached an age where healthcare costs have become a major concern. According to Adams, if either of the brothers has a health issue that requires a large co-pay or deductible, they might have to permanently stop working on the game.
Adams told Kotaku over e-mail that "healthcare costs are generally the whole reason" behind the developers' decision to release on Steam and reach a wider audience. He also said that, in the current gaming environment, crowdfunding is no longer enough to bring in the money the brothers require to continue work on the game.
The decision to move to Steam also came after Adams noticed how many downloads similar games were getting on the digital storefront. Games such as Prison Architect, Rimworld, and Gnomoria all have download numbers close to a million, much more than Dwarf Fortress has seen even after 12 years. After seeing how well those titles have succeeded on the platform, the developers decided to release on the digital storefront to bring in more revenue.
Tarn and Zach Adams released Dwarf Fortress in 2006, and the game has since become a cult classic for its steep learning curve and ridiculous, ASCII-art, Elf-hating shenanigans. The massively detailed game lets players create an underground Dwarf colony, protect it, and build it into a regional superpower. The game is like a combination of Sim City and Dungeons & Dragons, and is legendary online for giving players either wild success or catastrophic failure.
The game has even been featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Since its launch, the Adams brothers have been able to keep updating the game through donations from fans and their Patreon, which pulls in around $6,000 per month. Adams has stated that he plans to keep updating the game continually into the future, as it "still doesn't feel finished".
Dwarf Fortress still doesn't have a definite release date for Steam at this time.