What is the 'Banana' game and why it has over 600K concurrent players on Steam

 A screenshot of Banana on Steam. .
Credit: Steam | Sky

If you regularly check out the most-played games on Steam to see what's buzzworthy, you may have noticed a bizarre little outlier called "Banana." And I'm here to report that it's exactly what it says on the tin.

"Banana" shot up the Steam charts this week and peaked at 660,000 concurrent players on Saturday, a quick look at SteamDB shows. That's an all-time high, but even now it's sitting at just around 600k, having ballooned from Friday's previous record of 155,000 concurrent players.

So why is everyone going ape over this game? (C'mon, I had to slip in at least one banana pun. Sorry if it's not the most appealing). Namely, because most of those players are bots. You see, this idle clicker game is a money printer. And I don't mean that as a dig at like freemium games or anything: Click the banana enough, and you earn in-game skins that can be sold for real-world cash.

It's the kind of player-led market we've seen pop up before with popular games like "Call of Duty" and "Counter-Strike. One rare CS:GO weapon skin reportedly sold for $400,000 just last year. Though I'll admit, this is the first time I've seen such entrepreneurial spirit coagulate around a game that's so...simple.

Continue clicking on the banana, and every so often one of dozens of differently decorated skins will drop right into your Steam inventory. Some have silly little outfits, others are bedazzled with gems, you get the idea.

A legal infinite money glitch?

While many of the skins sell for mere pennies, some prices have jumped to dozens or even hundreds of dollars as "Banana" builds up word-of-mouth hype. One in-game skin has even sold for more than $1,000, Polygon reports.

Since it's an idle game, it's designed to be easy for legitimate players to keep "Banana" going on in the background to just hop in and click every so often. Unfortunately, an army of bots has the potential to ruin the fun for everyone.

“I do believe that the reason why it mostly caught on is because it’s a legal ‘Infinite money glitch,’” development team member Hery told Polygon. “Users make money out of a free game while selling free virtual items.”

The developers are working with Steam to crack down on the bot problem.

“Unfortunately we are currently facing some problems around botting, since the game takes basically 1% to no resources of your PC, people are abusing up to 1000 alternative accounts in order to get Rarer drops or atleast drops in bulk," Hery continued.

Sales of the least valuable bananas have soared alongside player (and presumably bot) numbers. It's hard to say for certain why, but the game's simple premise and meme-ability ooze the same "to the moon!" energy of Reddit investors and the terminally online crowd (which I say as a member myself, so no shade). My guess is the bulk of new legitimate players are doing it for the meme. Hey, it's better than NFTs, at any rate.

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