Why everyone is obsessed with a game about toys

gif: Digital Cyber ​​Cherries / Kotaku

For the past week, the gaming world has been obsessing over an indie shooter coming to Xbox and treating it with the passion (and wildfire social media metrics) of an upcoming AAA tentpole. But here’s the weird part: this game is already out. It has been playable on multiple platforms for years.

You may have heard about it Hypercharge: Unpackeda wave-based shooter where you play as an action figure against a bunch of other action figures – big toy story mood here. Developed and self-published by Digital Cybercherries, hypercharge does a lot with little, combining both first-person and third-person shooting with base-building elements in childhood-inspired environments. It’s also multiplayer, offered both online and, in an sadly rare but much appreciated blessing, local co-op.

According to most accounts hypercharge is damn good and has a “very positive” (91%) rating on Steam. Here is a brief synopsis about kotakuZack Zwiezen, who wrote positively about the game two years ago:

The basic gameplay loop has you breaking out of your toy box, then scavenging a map for tokens, which you use to buy defenses and upgrades to protect your power stations. After a few minutes, a wave of enemies will attack. You fight them and then have a few minutes to search for more loot and build up more defenses. It’s not a terribly new or fresh twist on this type of gameplay, but what’s here is solid. Weapons feel good, enemies are responsive when you shoot them, and movement is fast and snappy.

An action figure shoots at a toy dinosaur in Hypercharge, a multiplayer game coming to Xbox.

screenshot: Digital cyber cherries

Although it was first released in Early Access five years ago, hypercharge saw a full release for Switch and PC in 2020. But you wouldn’t immediately glean that from the game’s official feeds, which could easily be read by a casual observer to indicate that the game isn’t out yet. Specifically on Twitter hypercharge has garnered the kind of buzz usually reserved for big-budget games, thanks to what appears to be a sophisticated digital marketing strategy.

At the moment, hyperchargeThe twitter page is focused on the Xbox, except for the other platforms it is playable on. The current banner photo explicitly calls out “Xbox gamers” and asks potential gamers to vaguely “sign up” for… something. (Click through and you’ll learn it’s a newsletter.) The pinned tweet — a post that stays at the top of a Twitter account’s feed regardless of post chronological order —refers exclusively to the “Xbox Series S”. That Bio is a call to action for “Xbox players” with no mention of other platforms, as is a textbook for pretty much any other game with a social media presence; if you want to link hypercharge‘s steam or Nintendo eShop Storefront pages require you to click your way through a link tree first.

Video clips on the topic hyperchargeThe gameplay of has gone mega-viral a number of times over the last few months in the wake of a marketing boostseemingly started in springto generate excitement for a potential Xbox release. Just this weekend such a clip has garnered more than 13 million views, thanks in part to cross-feed shares from popular gaming personalities with huge followings, such as: Sports commentator Jake Lucky. (Lucky’s accompanying text could also be read in this way hypercharge is a yet to be released game: “These 5 guys are trying to make an indie game where you play as an action figure in a toy store… and it’s sick.”)

This strategy – basically deal hypercharge like it’s a whole new game – makes sense as the game isn’t exactly taking off on existing platforms. According to the Steam tracking database Steamcharts, hypercharge‘s supreme simultaneity of all time is less than a thousand players. And while official metrics for Nintendo’s storefronts aren’t publicly available, come on.

It’s unclear how much the studio anticipated the recent excitement. Digital Cybercherries officials did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

An action figure shoots at toy soldiers in Hypercharge, a multiplayer game coming to Xbox.

screenshot: Digital cyber cherries

But whether intentional or not, the dividends are obvious. Digital cyber cherries says more than 20,000 people have signed up for last week’s newsletter. Added to this are the millions of views of the videos and the relatively high engagement in the social media posts, which regularly receive thousands of likes. Unfortunately, of course, this level of attention also has its downsides. Last week, the studio released a statement Call the toxicity it received due to the lack of a specific release date.

Personally speaking, and maybe I’m just being a chump, but the excitement of the last few weeks has gotten me totally hooked? hypercharge is not the kind of game I would play on Switch (not enough tech hp) or PC (not a gaming rig for me). But I’d totally play it on Xbox – where I usually play local co-op games which, and I just repeat how much crap that is, are rare these days.

A week ago I thought hypercharge was just another shooter. It’s now at the top of my gimme, gimme, gimme list. hypercharge is slated for an Xbox release early next year, corresponding The edge‘s Tom Warren, windowed to launch on Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s hugely popular games-on-demand service. Let’s see if the buzz lasts until then.