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Squid Game knockoffs are the latest sensation to take over Roblox

Roblox developers are copying the show’s bloody games

A vivid neon pink and green maze full of people, seen from the top down, in Squid Game Photo: Netflix
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

A series of knockoffs of Squid Game, Netflix’s latest battle royale show, have proliferated across the gaming platform Roblox. The platform’s trending section is now littered with titles like “Squid Game” and “Red Light Green Light,” with 8.3 million visits and 27.6 million visits, respectively.

Squid Game is a new Korean thriller on Netflix that hit the streaming service on Sept. 17. Since then, it’s become a viral hit; it’s the most-watched show on Netflix in the United States, and it’s currently on track to become its most-watched show of all time worldwide, according to Netflix.

The drama follows Seong Gi-hun, a man with a propensity for gambling, who ends up in serious debt. Because of that, he gets recruited to join a 450-person competition where the contestants play deadly versions of classic children’s games, like red light green light and tug-of-war. The winner of these deadly, battle royale-esque games will take home roughly 39 million dollars.

The Roblox games each emphasize different aspects of the show. Some are focused on the battle royale mechanics, others are just minigames, and some are even adaptations of Squid Game as a standard prison break game. Red Light Green Light by Slugfo tasks players with trying to cross the arena while playing the children's game. Just like in the show, if a player moves when “red light” is called, their character gets shot by a robot. Other versions of the game create a prison break scenario, where players take on the persona of one of the game’s masked officers in red suits and shoot contestants who fail to follow the rules of the game.

Roblox is largely played by kids, but that doesn’t stop dark games from becoming popular. “Cops and robbers” and “prison break” type games are immensely popular on the Roblox platform. One of the most well-known games in this genre, Jailbreak, has had roughly 5.3 billion visits since it was created in 2017. The game has also inspired a series of physical toys. Some developers have also tried to cash in on the craze by running scams. Squid Game’s bright and cheery children’s games combined with its darker themes fit in with these other popular Roblox games.

These knockoffs are able to proliferate across the Roblox platform because it’s hard to issue a claim against a children’s game, and also, knockoffs and parody games often go unnoticed. In fact, it’s common for on-platform developers to copy original IP, using non-licensed characters from shows like Dragon Ball Z and Demon Slayer. Whether these developers get caught depends on how aggressively the IP owners protect their content. In 2018, a group of developers behind a super popular Pokémon clone called Pokémon Brick and Bronze had their game taken down out of the blue. However, many knockoffs still live on the platform.