Sometimes the biggest video games are the result of a dedicated advertising effort that takes years of organization and many millions of dollars. Then, there are viral video games. These titles are usually unexpected sleeper hits that find success due to word-of-mouth reviews from avid players.
Before scrolling further to find our top picks, go ahead and check our own games to discover new and exciting titles!
A viral video game is a title that has gained rapid and unexpected popularity. This is usually because of social media coverage, which is then reported on by mass media. Viral games often outperform the releases of major AAA studios!
Viral games might dream of success, and some might expect it, but none dare reach as high as they eventually climb. Whether viral card games, viral mobile games, or any other form they take, viral games are titles that have exceeded expectations.
Below are standout viral games that reshaped the way we look at entertainment. Whether you're a gamer or not, chances are you've played or heard about at least one of these viral phenomenon.
Augmented reality (AR) games were not new in 2016, but they lacked an app that dominated the landscape. This is where Pokémon GO came in, becoming the first of the AR viral exclusive games for mobile. A viral game that wasn't just fun, Pokémon GO also encouraged exercise.
Pokémon GO counted itself as the first of the viral android games and iOS titles to combine popular appeal and the need for movement. Players of this viral game needed to explore to catch their pocket monsters, then move around to hatch eggs and level them up.
Combined with the social aspect of leading a gym for battles, Pokémon GO did a great job of bringing a long-held fantasy to life. One of the biggest gaming phenomena ever, Pokémon GO is a viral game done right.
Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy is one of those viral games the 2020 era was made for. A basic idea, this title succeeded based on the environment of the late 2010s. This was a time of streaming, and it's thanks to streaming that this viral video game took off.
This is a platform game where the player takes the role of a man in a pot. Wielding only a sledgehammer, the goal is to climb as high in the level as possible. Using clumsy mouse or trackpad controls, this task is a lot more difficult than it initially seems.
What made this title one of the ace viral games is how fantastic it was for streaming. Streaming personalities would put themselves on edge trying to one-up each other. With failures often resulting in a rush of emotion and a lot of lost progress, Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy was a viral game that set trends.
Published by Zynga, Farmville was a video game that demonstrated the strengths of social media gaming. A simple idea, Farmville had players grow crops, tend their farms, and visit others in their quest for continued growth.
The idea of farming in video games was not new in 2009. The Harvest Moon series was also based on this idea, launching its first title in 1996. Farmville took the social aspect of casual gaming to a new level, however, which is why it became a breakout viral video game.
It was easy, it was fun, and it had enough appeal that even non-gamers wanted to give it try. While the original game was discontinued in 2020, its legacy and influence remain strong, and sequels persist to this day.
How Do Video Games Go Viral?
Social media is the biggest culprit, which is why Farmville saw so much success. Closely integrated with Facebook, Farmville arrived before many of us understood notifications. It bombarded our friends with messages, and thanks to a continued discussion, it remained a topic everyone had an opinion on.
Ask people today whether Farmville was a good game, and you'll still get back some strong responses.
Among Us is one of the more interesting viral video game stories, as it took some time to find its feet. Shortly after release, the social deduction game had only around 30 to 50 concurrent players. Thanks to what the developer considered bad marketing, it performed poorly and was nearly abandoned.
For over a year, Among Us continued to struggle, hitting a peak of around 1,000 players during that period. Thanks to continued updates, and streamer attention, the game's success snowballed and then skyrocketed. From a slow start, Among Us would reach a high of over 430,000 concurrent players.
All this, so fans could determine who was 'sus', and vent the accused monster into space.
Now one of the best-selling video games of all time, Minecraft was originally considered a silly experiment by some. The game is still not amazing to look at, but it also relies on a hugely important part of humanity: our creativity. Essentially video game Lego, Minecraft has become a media super force.
Now with a huge modding community and a fanbase of all ages, Minecraft is considered by many to be one of the best games of all time. Not bad for a viral game that has graphics you can imitate with cardboard boxes
Taking a step outside of the box is Wordle. A viral video game that plays with words, Wordle is a tricky title now published by the New York Times. Equal parts challenging and simple, Wordle is one of the most popular games to reach a modern audience.
The idea is simple, players have six guesses to narrow down a five-letter word. Guided by clues, Wordle tickles a part of our brain we rely on but rarely train once we leave school. Plus, unlike the New York Times crossword, it's something most people can actually finish.
These six examples are a drop in the bucket of what the viral game market has to offer, but they illustrate just how broad this section of gaming can be. Whether you're a hardcore gamer or a casual passer-by, these titles are equally appealing, even if their appeal may wear out after a while.
If you haven't already, consider giving one or two a try, and you might be kicking yourself for missing out for so long.