The Vampire Survivors-inspired, vtuber-styled action roguelike Holocure – Save the Fans was released on Steam on August 16, and it's since become the 46th highest-rated game to ever hit Valve's storefront, according to the Steam Top 250. But despite its runaway success, the lead developer on the game absolutely refuses to profit off of it, insisting he's doing fine with other work and just wants people to enjoy the game.
Holocure is currently sitting at 15,024 user reviews, with 99% of them being positive. This is a rare sort of outlier on the Steam Top 250. Most of the big-wigs, like Terraria or Stardew Valley or Hades, hover around a 97% or 98% positive score with hundreds of thousands of reviews – or a staggering 1.1 million in Terraria's case. Holocure, while immensely popular, is primarily riding its near-perfect rating to the top.
Holocure's neighbors on the top 250 are Hotline Miami and Doki Doki Literature Club, which have 86,686 and 191,122 reviews respectively, but 'only' 97% positive ratings. The next 99% positive game on the list is A Short Hike at 49 with 14,245 reviews. Up at rank 31, you have the 99% positive Pizza Tower with 38,214 reviews. Vampire Survivors is a particularly relevant comparison given its influence on Holocure's gameplay, and it's earned the number five spot with its own 99% rating across 206,230 reviews.
Holocure was originally released through Itch.io over a year ago, and was immediately so popular that its leaderboards crashed. It's steadily evolved into an incredibly polished, absolutely massive game packed with levels, items, life sim-like side activities, and dozens of unlockable characters who are all vtubers of the Japanese brand Hololive. Whether you like vtubers, Hololive, Vampire Survivors, or just good roguelikes, it's an excellent game that's demonstrably taken Steam by storm. Even so, it's completely unmonetized, and lead dev Kay Yu (heads up: there's NSFW art on that profile link) says it'll stay that way.
One reason for this is that, as a derivative fan work, Holocure can't profit off the Hololive brand without express permission from the owner company Cover, as its policies specify. That said, I have to imagine Kay Yu could work something out given how many Hololive vtubers have collectively streamed the game to millions of viewers. Cover is clearly aware of the game and its popularity, not to mention the good it's done the Hololive brand, and could conceivably arrange some sort of partnership.
But in response to a Steam discussion post understandably wondering "where do these awesome [devs] receive their money from," Kay Yu said he actively doesn't want or need any money from Holocure.
"I work primarily in video games as an animator," he begins. "Video game productions go on for years and years, so this is my main and most consistent income and I'm able to live reasonably well from that. I also work as a freelancer for various anime studios every once in a while (around 1-2 gigs a month). This is a small bit of side money that helps. Each gig is like maybe $500 - $1000. It's not much, but it does help cover any development costs.
"I'd say ~75% of the development work of this game I do on my own, from gameplay design, most sprites and animation, programming (the entirety of Holo House I coded on my own), and project management. Because my animation jobs pay me enough, I spend my free time working on this game, and obviously I don't need to pay myself. This means I don't spend much extra money to develop this game, just my time. I do pay for all translation work as well as some of the additional art help (like furniture), so there's SOME cost, but not really much. My extra side money I mentioned before definitely covers it.
"As long as I can continue living comfortably, have time to work on this game, and people are enjoying the game, that's all that matters to me," he concludes.
Believe it or not, this isn't the first game like this: the free Hololive fighting game Idol Showdown launched as one of the biggest fighting games on Steam, though it hasn't reached Holocure's heights.