A re-release of one of Asia’s most beloved video games is taking the Chinese internet by storm 13 years after its original release, fueling a wave of nostalgia among the country’s young adults.
The mobile version of Mole world peaked in free downloads on the Apple App Store and has also been downloaded millions of times on Android phones, increasing its creator’s share price by 25% in the week of its release .
First available on PC in 2008, the farming simulation game features a round-faced creature with a clown nose that caught the attention of a generation of gamers ten years ago.
Players who once buried themselves in Mole’s World as children are now adults showing off their virtual farms to their colleagues during lunch breaks at the office.
“I play it out of nostalgia for who I was when I was playing it back then,” Zhao Yiping, a 24-year-old student and longtime Mole fan, told AFP.
The popularity of the game gave the Shanghai-listed shares of developer G-bits Network Technology an increase of nearly 25%, bringing the company’s value to more than 41 billion yuan ($ 6.41 billion).
G-bits heavily marketed the relaunch of Mole’s World to young adults, bringing in Chinese pop-punk group New Pants to star in a promotional video.
He is part of a wave of companies using nostalgia to sell products to young Chinese people eager to escape the stress and uncertainty of adulthood.
Several 1990s-themed restaurants have sprung up in major cities, and new interpretations of old-fashioned kid’s snacks such as White Rabbit and Want-Want have been released.
Spurred on by the Covid-19 lockdowns, China’s online gaming industry grossed 279 billion yuan in 2020, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.
Player videos showing their proud exploits in Mole’s World have received tens of thousands of views on Bilibili, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube.
Gambling is “definitely a way to unwind,” Wang Jingwen, a 25-year-old Mole’s World fan, told AFP.
“People born after the 90s are now the ones who support society and face a lot of pressure on a daily basis while studying or at work,” she said.