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Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley proves that updates are just as valuable as new games

Home » Features » Stardew Valley proves that updates are just as valuable as new games

The gaming world is an insatiable place. Directors, developers and designers are in a constant state of stress to pump out content offerings to their hungry consumer base. Just look at the sheer amount of games that came out on Steam last year! It all makes you wonder what would happen if, I don’t know, a hero stepped in who, instead of reinventing the wheel, decided to keep building on what’s working? 

Enter the ape. ConcernedApe, that is. Word around the campfire is that the creator of cosy farming sim Stardew Valley, Eric Barone, is hard at work, but not with the long-awaited sequel to Stardew Valley, no no. Turns out he’s planning a 1.6 Update this month, piggybacking on the mammoth dump of content in 2020’s 1.5 Update. So, instead of moving on to even greener pastures, why is Barone staying in the Valley? 

It has to be love. 

Despite being initially released in 2016, Barone had been working on Stardew Valley for years. According to an early interview, the game had been in production since 2011. That puts his total logged time working on it at 14 years. That kind of obsessive development has got to grow on you after a while. And, just like any good relationship, you soon become inseparable. 

I’m not saying Barone is trapped by his creation by any means. On the contrary, it seems like the past few years have yielded some of the game’s best content via its well-spaced but consistent updates. For example, the aforementioned 1.5 Update was literally the closest thing to DLC we could ask for. With an entire new island to explore, quality of life improvements and a slew of new goodies to buy, it was like a whole new game, and for free.

Hard to believe you could ever put a cherry on top of that cherry, and yet…

Stardew Valley’s upcoming update 1.6 is looking to fill in even more holes that apparently we didn’t know were there From his “sneak peek” post on X back in September 2023, Barone looks to be add 100+ new lines of dialogue, new festivals and a multiplayer option accommodating up to eight people, which is quite a feat indeed. But how does he feel about it?

In a recent Polygon interview, Barone waxed about his baby and its latest version the way a parent proudly gushes about their kid’s winning football match, and can you blame him? Stardew Valley’s journey from bedroom project to indie darling has been a wild one, full of ups and downs, excellent music and no end in sight. With every Update, the Valley — and its fan base — seems to grow exponentially, which actually makes sense for the genre. 

A sim by its very nature is a representation of a life, manifested in this case by a thriving rural community. The diverse crew of characters come with compelling backstories and even the capacity to fall in love, or divorce. It’s a rich wonderful life Barone’s created here, and one that’s equally hard to break away from. 

In his own words, “ I don’t think I’ll ever officially close the book.” And that’s just fine with us. 

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