Capcom Arcade Stadium is one of the most popular Steam games thanks to bots

Capcom Arcade Stadium is one of the most popular Steam games thanks to bots

Tech Highlights:

  • Despite this, Capcom Arcade Stadium is currently the third most played game on Steam, according to both SteamDB and Steam Charts, with roughly 477,000 players (just behind Dota 2).

  • Look over the following games and point out the odd one: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Capcom Arcade Stadium, PUBG, and Apex Legends are just a few of the games available. Four of them are continuously and astronomically popular online games that have been among the most-played titles on Steam for years, while the fifth is a half-decent vintage games emulator that has averaged approximately 20 players per month since it was released in May 2021.

Now, Capcom knows a thing or two about making popular games, but surely even their top dogs in Osaka are wondering how a package whose only included freebie is the 1987 shmup 1943: The Battle of Midway is suddenly about twenty times more popular than their next most-popular game, Monster Hunter: World.

Well, probably not…

What’s going on? Are shmups finally about to take the western gaming world by storm, as I drunkenly predicted way back in 2009?

Impressive though Capcom Arcade Stadium’s sudden surge is, according to dataminer and SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik it’s much more likely the result of trading card bots.

How this usually happens is that these bots sit around waiting for paid games to go free, then automatically ‘buy’ the game and idle in it to accrue trading cards for free. That explains why Life is Strange 2 Episode 1 suddenly saw a similar popularity surge when it went free in September 2020.

And while Capcom Arcade Stadium has been free since launch, it’s only just added Steam trading cards, which the bots have duly hoovered up.

So nope, it’s not just a sudden nostalgia surge for Battle for Midway. The Great Shmup Renaissance will have to wait a little longer… Since the launch of Steam Trading Cards in 2013, players have been able to earn, buy, and sell the purely digital collectibles in thousands of games on Valve’s online platform. For most supported games, a player can get half of the available trading cards just by putting in playtime. To get a game’s full card set, a player has to purchase the remainder from the Steam Community Market. There, other players can offer their excess cards for sale, with commodity pricing determined by floating buy and sell offers that fluctuate based on supply and demand.

Steam Trading Cards don’t have any inherent value outside of what the market of players is collectively willing to ascribe to them (kind of like NFTs, just without the decentralization or the “one of one” uniqueness). But many Steam users value the Trading Cards because a complete set within a game can be traded for a game-specific badge that will be tied to your Steam account and profile page. Those badges, in turn, earn XP toward raising your Steam user level, a visible online social distinction that can get a player listed on a global leaderboard if they’re really dedicated to the idea.

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