“It’s An Addiction”: Over 60 Million Chinese Netizens Are Playing Sheep A Sheep

China’s latest craze is a tile matching passthrough challenge — Sheep A Sheep. The mini-game’s popularity is no coincidence, but the result of a shrewd strategy of user engagement.

What Happened: Recently, the addictive tile matching mini-game Sheep A Sheep (羊了个羊) has become an overnight sensation in China, boasting over 60 million players daily. In fact, the excessive amount of users has caused startup Jianyou Technology’s viral passthrough game to crash several times already.

The hit game has only three levels, however, it has become well known for its “hard fun.” The seemingly intuitive gameplay — which demands users find three identical tiles and eliminate them until all are cleared — has an extremely testing second level. Data shows that only 0.1 percent of its millions of players have scraped through. The high difficulty has lured many to the challenge, resulting in the upstart’s meteoric success.

The Jing Take: Such programs are rapidly gaining popularity in the mainland market. According to Tencent’s data, WeChat mini-games achieved more than 30 percent of commercial growth in 2021. Given the popularity, there are so far more than 100,000 developers in the country — making this a highly competitive sector.

Yet the virality of Sheep A Sheep is no coincidence. Many young netizens have expressed how the “hard fun” of the game is highly addictive, with some of them staying up all night to (try to) pass the second level. When asked what made them so eager to win, the shared answer was “regional pride.” Continue to read the full article here