Work Hard, Play Hard: Why Grindea Took 13 Years to Come Out

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The game Secrets of Grindea is the epitome of ‘success doesn’t happen overnight’. This game took the Swedish developers over 13 years to perfect before they agreed to release it. The game was released, unfinished, in 2014 and was re-released a decade later in its final form. But why? And has the gaming community even heard of it after all these years?

Image via Pixel Ferrets

Back to the Beginning of Grindea

Most games nowadays take a fair amount of time to create, with games such as GTA 5 and The Last of Us Part 2 taking five whole years to create. But these games are mega “story mode” video games with expansive maps, rich character stories, and impressive graphics. The Secrets of Grindea is visually fairly simple, adopting the Stardew Valley 8-bit aesthetic - so when compared to these games, so what took so long? 

When developer and writer Teddy Sjöström started developing the game in 2011, he definitely didn’t think it would end up consuming his life for the following 13 years. The initial idea was to create a nostalgia-inducing video game that would remind players of the golden Super Nintendo era and the final product nailed the brief. 

Paired with artists Fred Ström and Vilya Svensson, the trio started developing and tweeting the progress of their brainchild in 2011. The fans were eating each screenshot up, and soon, they faced intense pressure to release something quickly. 

As they started to develop and create more and more fantastical lands on their map, they found the game expanding and expanding, with no end in sight. Soon the 1 year project turned into 3 which would eventually turn into 13. 

When production hit the three year mark, the money and creativity started to disappear so the creators were semi-forced to release an initial version that was very much incomplete. Steam’s Early Access section had so many visitors that the game sold thousands and thousands of copies. 

Image via Steam

New Found Success

With The (unfinished) Secrets of Grindea being such a success, the trio focused all of their energy on perfecting their game. This constant search for perfection eventually became their downfall, as there was no longer any financial burden. Their initial success gave the brave developers the perfect excuse to continue tweaking, tailoring, adding and expanding. 

Parts of the game were removed, major additions were thrown in, and regular updates were made available to the fans. There were no deadlines and therefore the team found themselves lost in the evergreen of Grindea. 

Maybe We Should Stop 

When Sjöström wrote out a document explaining exactly what to do in order to continue making the game should he die, it was a sign. The trio realised their lives had become completely intertwined with their fictional characters. 

Some years still went by, but eventually, in February 2024, over a decade after the idea was born, the game was released in its final state. Over 300,000 copies have been sold and the trio has received many a pat on the back from world-famous gaming critics. 

But that’s not all. The trio have said they’ll start working on a new game and additional features. Who knows how long that might take, but it will be worth it. 

A Similar Story - Mother III

This 2008 game was released in Japan after the success of its predecessor. The sad thing is, following 12 years of development, the creators decided not to release the game outside of Japan. 

Image via Nintendo

The game was labelled as controversial due to its morbid and sometimes dark nature. The story follows children with psychic powers, but it definitely has some underlying negativity that leaves you feeling a little off at times. 

Mother III was eventually scrapped as the development had gone on for too long, and it became too large to fit a single Nintendo cartridge. A sad end to a long project. 


In conclusion, Secrets of Grindea stands as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of its developers. The journey from concept to completion spanned well over a decade, underscoring the challenges and complexities inherent in game development.

Despite the lengthy process, the result is a richly detailed and engaging game that has captured the hearts of many players. Grindea's development story is a powerful reminder that passion and persistence can overcome even the most daunting obstacles, ultimately leading to the creation of something truly special in the world of gaming.

Image via Steam

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