There is a game on Steam called Crab Game. It is – as the developer says – a first-person multiplayer game where the player competes in a series of different minigames based on children's game in order to win the "ultimate cash price" [sic].
If this sounds at all famililar, there is a disclaimer, which may be significant. The Steam page description for Crab Game adds: "Definitely not based on any online streaming pop culture Korean tv shows, as that would get me in legal trouble, so we're certainly not doing that".
Crab Game became popular with Twitch streamers earlier this month, with names such as xQc and Sodapoppin checking out the game, which is definitely not based on a hit Korean show on Netflix. However, these Twitcher players and others found they were experiencing DDOS attacks; apparently the public lobbies for Crab Game were susceptible to the attacks. Dani, the developer, issued an apology on Twitter and said he would fix the issue. Since these early highs (and lows), the game seems to be up on an upward curve in followers, even though it's certainly not related to a certain series directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, but a downward trend in concurrent players.
On SteamDB, which tracks a game's popularity on the digital store, Crab Game has seen a steady decline, with a drop of around 40 percent in players over the last month. The game launched on October 29 and went on to draw 56,106 concurrent players at its 24-hour peak, in early November. On Twitch it had an all-time peak of 283,315 viewers at its all-time peak, around the same time. Since then, however, players have dropped off to around 13,800 concurrent players, at the time of writing.
Crab Game allows up to 35 players, with 28 maps on offer, and nine game modes. It's a simple game with simple graphics and players can fight each other with guns and melee weapons, and there are kids games like running and stopping to the turn of a giant doll. Over on YouTube, Dani's video of Crab Game has drawn 6.1m views, while popular streamers such as Pokimane and YouTubers Sidemen also created videos based on playing Crab Game.
Another YouTuber, MrBeast, spent $456,000 on creating Squid Game (the hit Korean Netflix series on which all this is based) in real life, building sets that replicate those seen in the show. His 24-minute video has drawn 122 million views so far. But it's probably the last major bump in a fading trend. When Squid Game launched at the end of September, it took a little while to gain momentum, but once it did, it took the world by storm. Millions of people around the world streamed Squid Game and it became a cultural phenemenon. SNL parodied it, with a skit involving Oscar-winner Rami Malek singing a country song with lyrics and backgrounds inspired by Squid Game. Kids started playing the games on playgrounds. Squid Game tracksuits became popular purchases, especially around Halloween, and streets from Tokyo to Seoul and New York City became alive with Squid Gamers.
But trends come and go, and Crab Game looks likely to fade as the buzz around the hit show fades, but who knows, maybe some dedicated players will eke out the game's existence, especially as Dani seems to be still updating the game with new content. Meanwhile, season two of Squid Game has been confirmed.
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