Capcom Arcade Stadium suddenly becomes one of the top games on Steam, probably because of bots

It’s not just because it’s free to play.

Image via Capcom

Capcom Arcade Stadium launched in May of this year. The collection is free to play, but that download only gets you access to the 1987 arcade game 1943: The Battle of Midway — all the bundles come at an additional cost. So why has this collection suddenly shot up to being the third-most-popular game on Steam?

Checking SteamDB, one can see that Capcom Arcade Stadium had fewer than 20 players during the morning of Tuesday, November 30 — before skyrocketing to an all-time peak concurrent number of nearly 500,000 “players” as of the time of this writing. Yes, “players” in quotation marks, because it seems the reason for the unprecedented massive spike is a swarm of bots idling for Steam’s virtual trading cards. Pavel Djundik, the creator of SteamDB, theorized as much on Twitter.

Idling is the act of having a bot “play” a Steam game for you when you’re not actually present, in order to accumulate time spent with the title and unlock trading cards. These can of course be traded, but they can also be sold for real money on the Steam marketplace. Idling is mining strategy by which some less-than-honest folks gather cards to be sold, and it seems to have given Capcom Arcade Stadium a serious boost.

While the collection’s rise is less than legit, Steam itself still had a banner day after Thanksgiving. A new concurrent player record of more than 27 million people was reached during the holiday weekend. Bots or not, the high numbers have continued through Cyber Monday and today with this spike.