Exterior of store in Supermarket Simulator
Screenshot by Destructoid

A simple simulation game is taking the streaming world by storm

Live out those retail empire dreams

If you’ve visited Twitch or used TikTok in the last couple of weeks, you’ve likely encountered some live streams that look like a regular day in the life of a retail worker. One game, Supermarket Simulator, seems to have taken over streaming platforms, racking up millions of hours of views. 

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Have you ever wanted to run your own grocery store? The answer is probably no, but that’s exactly what people are watching other people do in Supermarket Simulator. The game is simple at first glance; open a store, sell products and try to make a profit. So why is it so popular?

Store interior in Supermarket Simulator
Screenshot by Destructoid

Supermarket Simulator is taking Steam by storm

Supermarket Simulator is an early access game developed and published by Nokta Games, a Turkish team that first came together in 2017 and prides itself on creating “hyper casual games.” Their first release, Toy of War, launched in 2019 on Google Play and wasn’t exactly a hit, but their latest offering, released on February 20, is currently 8th on the top-selling charts on Steam, sandwiched between Helldivers 2 Super Citizen Edition and Baldur’s Gate 3

In Supermarket Simulator, you are a new supermarket owner with $50 in your pocket to stock your first items. To begin with, you have six products to choose from, including Pasta and Bread – you know, the basics of any small convenience store. You buy stock on the computer, it gets delivered immediately (Amazon, eat your heart out), you put it on the shelves, pick and selling price and open the store. 

Screenshot by Destructoid

The NPCs who come in to do their shopping are… Questionable. They walk like they’ve had some kind of bowel-related accident and absolutely refuse to make eye contact when they hand over their cash or card for payment. According to the description of the free prologue demo, which was released on January 26, players are making repayments to “the gangs,” so maybe that would explain the customers’ hesitance to look you in the eye.

Steam top selling charts March 10 2024
Screenshot by Destructoid

Over the last seven days on Twitch alone, the game has amassed over 5.7 million hours of watch time, persistently receiving more views than titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and Minecraft. This doesn’t account for TikTok live streams, which regularly have thousands of viewers watching multiple content creators playing the game. 

It also doesn’t account for creators on YouTube jumping on the bandwagon and cashing in on the game’s unexpected popularity. Videos on the platform are receiving hundreds of thousands of views with new videos being uploaded every day.

It’s a shock hit, and honestly? I can understand why. I bought the game on the day it was released and I’ve played enough to know why this is fun to both play and watch. There’s an element of pride for your own store and also envy for other people’s stores – they feel like competitors and you begin to feel as though you need to better them. For a game with absolutely no competitive aspect, there sure is a lot of competition between players. 

Product licenses in Supermarket Simulator
Screenshot by Destructoid

Eventually, you hire staff to do most of the work, leaving you free to constantly restock and micromanage the world around you. There’s a constant list of things to aim for, new product licenses to expand your stock, and expansions to both the store and your storeroom. Small goals like these keep people playing because there’s always something to earn right around the corner, and most of all, they feel obtainable. Nothing is out of reach.

The game has its “quirks”—you can’t move items without a suitable box to put them in, so you constantly need to have a pile of empty boxes cluttering up the place. As soon as you buy a product license, customers start to complain that they can’t find the item while you’re trying to earn enough money to buy new shelves for said products to go on, never mind the money to buy the products themselves. 

There are currently no customization options, although according to the list of coming updates, this will come with time, along with cleaning and the ability to move items without boxes. Supermarket Simulator does feel a little basic, but that doesn’t seem to have affected the game’s popularity.

As I mentioned, the NPCs feel very low effort, and you’ll see the same person shopping 20 times a day, but that does lead to some interesting backstories if you use your imagination. Some of them insist on giving you a $100 bill to pay for a $2 bottle of water, which is infuriating, but as you seem to have a never-ending supply of money in the till, you can repay them in coins if you have the dedication to do so.

Currently, Supermarket Simulator is 12.99 USD and available only on Steam, with the promise of a long list of future updates. 


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Author
Paula Vaynshteyn
Paula has been gaming since she can remember and is now juggling family life with virtual adventuring. She is a long-time FFXIV nut with a passion for helping others in the game. If she's not writing or traversing the realms of Eorzea, she's either asleep or traveling between the UK and the US to see her fiancé, whom she met in Zadnor.