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‘Cookie Clicker’ sweeps Steam: how a minimalist game from 2013 has overtaken ‘Battlefield V’ in number of players

It is not uncommon for a video game that hit the market years ago and went more or less unnoticed to receive a sudden boost in popularity some time later. The reasons go from the completely arbitrary to the fact that the player base of some titles is simmering, and they only need a spark to explode. A meme, a review by a successful youtuber or a compliment from a celebrity outside the box can be these sparks. This is what happened about a year ago, for example, with ‘Among Us’, whose original release dates from 2018.

But also, simply, we can have a snowball effect in which a lot of more or less unoccupied Internet users gather, fond of sabotaging games’ almost never-trustworthy scoring systems from within, and elevate a very modest title for trolling or a kind of desire for “poetic justice” with the humblest productions (often both at once ). In this case, in addition, it happens that ‘Cookie Clicker’ is ridiculously addictive, so among all the people who have raised the game to the top of the Steam charts there will be a good amount of genuinely hooked players.

This is how ‘Cookie Clicker’ has become an absolute success on Steam that grows without restraint. The funny thing about the subject is that the previous version of the title was free, it could be played in any browser. The fact that this renewed success on Steam occurs with its paid version does not make much sense, but that’s how it has been: with its launch a week ago, ‘Cookie Clicker’ was placed in the Top 50 of the platform.

But the most impressive figures come from its number of simultaneous players: has been installed comfortably (as at the time of this writing) in the more than 50,000. His record, according to Steamdb, is at 60,009 players, less than 24 hours ago. That is to say, above ‘Battlefield V’ and about to surpass hits like ‘Rust’ or ‘Destiny 2’. His assessment is also very high: 5,674 positive votes have given him a spectacular percentage of 94.45%

Repetitive pastry, the secret of success

The idle games (also known as clicker games, although over time they have drifted in different directions), They are games in which you have to carry out few actions or very repetitive actions. In the first incarnations of these games, often free or under models pay-to-win very elementary, a continuous click to the screen provided income that allowed to improve the characters, which in turn multiplied the income. That is, classic RPG mechanics, but with immediate click-based reward.

The first two games to achieve some fame as idle games, significantly they were born as jokes or experiments. The free version of ‘Cookie Clicker’ was almost an interactive digital performance, and ‘Cow Clicker ‘was an experiment by theorist Ian Bogost on repetitive mechanics and progression in video games., with the inevitable point of self-parody. It soon evolved to the challenges of patience and endurance, in titles that left no room for doubt: ‘Time Clickers’, ‘Tap Heroes’, ‘Tap Tap Infinity’, ‘Insanity Clicker’ or ‘Sakura Clicker’.


Cow Clicker

The genre continued to evolve: the label clicker games was left only for games whose mechanics consist of tapping on the screen, and the idle games, for their part, they sometimes turned to the experimental, with absolutely contemplative games -almost digital art installations-, like ‘AntCity’, where we see a colony of ants evolve. Others more interactive take very different forms: ‘Realm Grinder’, for example, is a ‘Populous’ that turns us into an omniscient being that makes a civilization evolve … by clicking on it.

The thing has even come to successful franchises, and a little over a year ago ‘Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows’ landed on Apple Arcade. In it you have to defend the Wall of the northern border of the kingdoms of Westeros. To do this, you have to send explorers to different points of the Wall and fortify the Black Castle. All this in a barely interactive way, like a war strategy game in automatic play mode.

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As for the ‘Cookie Clicker’ itself, its mechanics do not have much mystery, although obviously there are strategies that can be put into practice to multiply the speed of the game. All you have to do is click on the cookie as quickly as possible to win more cookies, buy power-ups (like grannies, cursor multipliers, or cookie farms) and produce more.

‘Cookie Clicker’ It is such a “passive” game that one of the possible strategies is to buy automatic push buttons after the start of the game, minimize the game screen and get to other things while the cookies multiply themselves. Quite the opposite of a title that requires dedication and practice … but that has not prevented it from touching on a success that is usually reserved only for big blockbusters.