Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-11-30 23:54 (JST)
Translated by. Nick Mosier
On November 30, the Steam version of Capcom Arcade Stadium suddenly saw a huge jump in players. At the time of this writing (Nov. 30 11pm JST), the number of concurrent players has climbed to over 480,000, and the game is currently the 3rd most popular title on the platform. But there’s something a little suspicious about the sudden rush of “players” the game is receiving.
Capcom Arcade Stadium is a collection of classic Capcom titles with added features like rewind and save states. The base game can be downloaded for free and comes with 1943: The Battle of Midway included, with other games being available through DLC. There are a total of 32 available titles, including Ghosts ‘N Goblins, Dynasty Wars, Street Fighter II, and Progear. There are also DLC bundles available where games are divided by genre.
The game was first released on the Nintendo Switch February of this year, with Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One releases following in May. If we look at the number of concurrent players when the game released on Steam, we do see that it reached over 600. But since then, the game has steadily only been in the double digits as far as concurrent players goes. To put it frankly, it’s not played a lot. However, there was a massive jump on November 30.
The Steam version suddenly jumped to over 10,000 players, and then to 100,000 over the course of a few hours. The hours that followed saw the game reach nearly 500,000 concurrent players. As mentioned earlier, the game was the 3rd most played game on Steam at the time, passing the likes of even Apex Legends and PUBG. But why the sudden increase in players? The answer isn’t totally clear.
While being able to play 1943 for free is certainly enticing, that’s been the case since launch. And while there was a Black Friday DLC sale, there’s a bit of a gap between the start of the sale on November 25, and the jump in players. Capcom Arcade Stadium also doesn’t look to have been an especially hot topic on social media, and there hasn’t been a jump in Twitch viewers, so it’s hard to imagine why so many players would suddenly start playing the game all at once.
The reason is likely bots. Pavel Djundik, creator of SteamDB, a database that tracks activity on Steam and is unaffiliated with Valve, points out that the sudden increase is due to bots working to acquire Steam Trading Cards.
Steam Trading Cards are a feature within Steam where players received virtual cards for playing games and can trade those cards with other users. In order to easily acquire these cards, bots have been created to make an account look like it’s playing a game, despite there not actually being a person doing so.
Why would someone want to get their hands on these trading cards? For some, it’s of course about collecting. But cards can also be bought and sold on the Steam Community Market. The cards mostly go for a few cents, but since Capcom Arcade Stadium is free, each card sold is profit. Bot users are likely running bots on multiple accounts to rake up cards to sell for money.
Why the game would suddenly become a target for gathering trading cards 6 months after its launch is unknown. There also isn’t proof that the players are actually bots at this time. But if I were pressed to say, it seems likely the game got the attention from bot users for some reason, and they are driving the concurrent player numbers up. The sudden increase also seems to be turning heads in the Steam Community. Djundik did provide some additional insight in a follow-up tweet below.
Capcom Arcade Stadium is available on PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.