Capcom Arcade Stadium reached nearly a half-million concurrent players on Steam earlier today, making it the eighth-biggest game in the platform’s history. There’s a free download with access to classic shmup 1943 but, uh… well, this isn’t exactly the only way to play arcade games for free on PC. You can thank bots and Valve’s trading card system for that.
If you keep a close eye on SteamDB‘s list of the most-played Steam games of all-time, you’ll find some weird names in the top 25, like Life is Strange 2, Postal, World of Warships, and Kathy Rain. Some of those games are quite popular, but not normally at the level of the platform’s biggest games. What they all have in common is that they briefly went free without disabling access to Steam trading cards, drawing bots to idle in those games so they could resell the cards on the Steam marketplace.
At a peak of 488,791 players, though, Capcom Arcade Stadium is the biggest bot draw ever. (The game didn’t even clear 1,000 concurrents at launch.) As SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik tells, cards just became available for the collection, drawing in bots by the hundreds of thousands.
Besides the free download with 1943, Capcom Arcade Stadium offers individual arcade games at $2 USD a pop. The full collection is currently on sale for $36.30 / £25.05 / €36.30.