Why is a banana driving Steam gamers nuts?

The runaway PC gaming hit explained

A banana
(Image credit: Deon Black / Unsplash)
Quick Summary

A crazy, simple game called Banana is going viral on Steam right now. 

All you do is click a banana. But, with a tiny chance of winning money, gamers are hooked.

Sometimes gamers do things that don't necessarily seem all that worthwhile to other people – whether it's grinding out levels in an RPG or waiting for random drops in a live-service title.

Still, either of those goals might seem positively normal compared to simply clicking on an image of a banana for hours on end.

That's the entire gameplay loop of a game called Banana which is currently one of the biggest titles on the huge gaming marketplace Steam. 

The game (if it can be called that) has already attracted over 17,000 reviews and sits on a "Very Positive" overall score, so it's not like people are bored by it. However, all it offers as gameplay is the ability to click on a banana. As you do so, there's a small chance at any time that you'll get gifted a sticker by the game, directly into your Steam inventory.

These stickers, of which there are a few to collect, can be sold for real money – some of them for pennies, but the rarest potentially for much more. That means you could theoretically make actual money from a free-to-play game. The chances of that happening are vanishingly slim, but that hasn't stopped people from trying their luck. 

Talking to Polygon one of its developers said that in Banana "users make money out of a free game while selling free virtual items", and that it wasn't some big conspiracy, but rather just "pretty much a stupid game". That's hard to argue with, but it's a fun dichotomy that both parts can be true at the same time. 

With the average payout on a banana sticker currently sitting at around $0.02, even if the most expensive sales have been for $1,400, Banana doesn't look like a great way to build up some savings. That hasn't stopped gamers before though, and it doesn't look like it's stopping them now. 

The developers have been caught out a little bit by the runaway success of the game, but they're now apparently planning some additions, including minigames and a shop to let people trade in duplicate banana stickers they might collect over time.

Whether this will inspire a new wave of similar idle games will be interesting to watch, and will doubtless become clear pretty quickly. 

Max Freeman-Mills

Max is a freelance writer with years of experience in tech and entertainment. He's also a gaming expert, both with the games themselves and in testing accessories and consoles, having flexed that expertise at Pocket-lint as a features editor. He has tested all manner of tech too, from headphones and speakers to apps and software.