The biggest streaming phenomenon of 2021 wasn’t a Marvel series, a star wars show, or even a long-awaited sequel. On the contrary, the biggest streaming phenomenon of the year was the brutally violent South Korean thriller squid game. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s death game series broke all Netflix records, with more than 1.6 billion hours watched in its first 28 days on the service. Bridgerton, the second-largest show in the Netflix library, scored less than half of that with 625 million hours watched. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that people are trying to recreate the games of squid game in real life.
We actually wrote about one of the contests in October. But that really pales in comparison to what James Steven Donaldson (aka MrBeast) has put together for his YouTube channel.
Squid Game in real video registers 120 million views
For those of you who haven’t seen the TV show, squid game involved 456 participants competing in a series of single games to win a grand prize of 45.6 billion won. The problem? If you lose a game, you die. MrBeast’s recreation is almost identical to the series except for the life or death stakes. 456 real people must participate in a series of games, and only one will walk away with $456,000.
As of Tuesday morning, the YouTube video has garnered over 120 million views. It’s currently the 8th most watched video on MrBeast’s channel, but it’s also been online for less than a week. Ultimately, this could be the creator’s greatest video ever. And that would certainly make sense, considering MrBeast said he spent $3.5 million to produce the video.
You can watch the home version of MrBeast squid game below to see who won the contest:
The controversy surrounding the video
Of course, it wouldn’t be the internet if it weren’t for controversy. On Sunday, content creator and Forbes Contributor Jon Youshaei tweeted that MrBeast’s YouTube video was already threatening to amass more views than the streaming series it was imitating after just a few days.
“More views, less time, less keepers,” he wrote. “That’s the promise of the creator economy.”
Within hours, the tweet had sparked a Twitter firestorm. Countless people started pointing out that the only reason anyone was watching MrBeast’s video was because of the TV show’s popularity. There’s no doubt that MrBeast has a massive following, but there’s a reason this video is on its way to becoming his most popular. It’s because he copied a winning formula.
Youshaei was getting more than his fair share of criticism, so he ended up deleting the tweet. But it raises some interesting questions about the so-called “creator economy” and how we define ownership. squid game Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk reflected on the 10-year journey he undertook to make the show. He also talked about how stressful it was to write and direct every episode of the series. And we know that despite his record popularity, he and the cast haven’t made more money than they were originally promised.
Meanwhile, a YouTuber spends a few weeks and a fraction of the show’s budget copying it scene by scene and enjoying it immensely. At least squid game gets a season 2.
You can watch the real squid game on Netflix with a subscription now.