clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A home repair simulator is one of Steam’s best-sellers

A surprisingly earnest take on home ownership

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Upon opening up Steam’s best-sellers list this morning, I was surprised to see an unlikely newcomer. It’s called House Flipper, and it claims to be a sort of home repair simulation. Believe it or not, this is an incredibly earnest take on a viable business strategy that has come to dominate reality television, especially on networks like HGTV and TLC.

In House Flipper, you buy a distressed property, fix it up and then try to sell it. Through a combination of demolition, renovation and good old-fashioned sweat equity, the goal is to make the best use of your time and money to turn a profit. Everything is done from the first-person perspective, from picking up trash to putting a new island in the kitchen.

You might remember another, similarly odd game from a few years ago, called Viscera Cleanup Detail. That’s the one where players take on the role of a space janitor cleaning up a starship after a particularly awful accident. But where that game was a very tongue-in-cheek parody, House Flipper appears to be remarkably earnest. This is a straightforward, semi-realistic job simulation game along the lines of the Farming Simulator or Truck Simulator series. Cleaning up a mess with a generic version of a Swiffer and a garbage can is just the first step; the game also includes mini-games surrounding wiring and plumbing.

An abandoned building full of trash, including newspapers and broken furniture.
Homes in House Flipper start out pretty messed up.
Empyrean/PlayWay S.A and Frozen District

Steam users aren’t the only ones taking notice: House Flipper landed among the top 10 games on Twitch this morning. At the top of the heap was Korean streamer saddummy, who had nearly 7,000 viewers along for the ride. I watched for about 30 minutes while they cleaned and sorted trash in a basement and then installed a shower — no small feat, considering it was below grade.

I kept waiting for something unusual to happen. But, honestly, the action looks to be a lot like what I do every weekend as a homeowner. It just happens a lot faster, and with the use of fewer medical supplies.

YouTuber ZerkaaPlays also put up a video a few days ago, and it’s so far received just shy of 500,000 views.

You may have seen some footage from the game dating from months ago, but that footage likely came from a beta; House Flipper never went into Steam Early Access.

House Flipper, from Polish indie developer Empyrean, sells for $19.99 and is compatible with Windows and Mac. It’s available on Steam right now, where it’s on sale for $17.99. House Flipper also includes some free downloadable content at launch. Called Apocalypse Flipper, it adds safe rooms and fallout shelters as well as three unique home appraisers with different needs.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.