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The logo of
Designer(s)Matheus Valadares[2]
Platform(s)Browser, Android, iOS, iPadOS
28 April 2015[1]
7 July 2015
iOS, iPadOS
8 July 2015
Mode(s)Multiplayer[a] is a massively multiplayer online action game created by Brazilian developer Matheus Valadares. Players control one or more circular cells in a map representing a Petri dish. The goal is to gain as much mass as possible by eating agar and cells smaller than the player's cell while avoiding larger ones which can eat the player's cells. Each player starts with one cell, but players can split a cell into two once it reaches a sufficient mass, allowing them to control multiple cells. The name comes from the substance agar, used to culture bacteria.[3]

The game was released to positive critical reception; critics particularly praised its simplicity, competition, and mechanics, while criticism targeted its repetitive gameplay. Largely due to word of mouth on social networks, it was a quick success, becoming one of the most popular browser and mobile games in its first year. The mobile version of for iOS was released on 8 July 2015 and Android on 7 July 2015 by Miniclip. has inspired similar web games called ".io games", including games with a similar objective but different characters, and games that incorporate elements of other genres like shooter games.[3]

Gameplay[edit] gameplay; this image shows only a small fraction of an map. There are four cells on this screenshot. One cell is partially consuming another one. Another one of the cells is a drawing of Doge, an Internet meme.

The objective of is to grow a cell on a Petri dish by swallowing both randomly generated pellets, known as "agar", which slightly increases a cell's mass, and smaller cells, without being swallowed by even larger cells.[4] The browser version currently holds five game modes: FFA (Free-For-All), Battle Royale, Teams, Experimental, and Party. The mobile version of the game includes Classic (like FFA), Rush Mode, and Battle Royale. The goal of the game is to obtain the largest cell; players must restart from a small cell when all their cells are eaten by larger players or fountain viruses. Players can change their cell's appearance with predefined words, phrases, symbols, or skins.[5] The more mass a cell has, the more slowly it will move.[6] Cells will gradually lose a small amount of mass over time.[7]

Viruses are green, spiky circles that split cells that consume them into many smaller cells, rendering them vulnerable and attractive targets to other players. Players can hide under viruses if their cell is small enough and their name short enough. Viruses are normally randomly generated, but players can also cause viruses to split in two by "feeding" them mass—typically in the direction of another nearby cell which the player wants to consume.[7]

Players can split their cell into two, and one of the two evenly divided cells (if the mass of the original cell is odd, one cell will be slightly bigger than the other) will be shot in the direction of the cursor when the space bar was pressed. This can be used as a ranged attack to shoot a cell in order to swallow other smaller cells or to escape an attack and move quickly around the map.[8] Split cells merge back into one cell if a bigger cell of the same player consumes it. Aside from feeding viruses, players can release a small fraction of their mass to feed other cells, an action commonly recognized as an intention to team with another player.[7]


Development[edit] was created by nineteen-year-old Brazilian developer Matheus Valadares, written in JavaScript and C++. Valadares shared an IP address to the game for playtesting on the 4chan video game board /v/ and game development forums, before releasing it on the domain on 28 April 2015. It is named after agar, a substance used to grow cell cultures.[9][10] Valadares continued to experiment with adding new features—experimental mode was created specifically for this purpose.[11] He thought about adding more complex biological features like photosynthesis and mitochondria, but ultimately decided to strip the game down to its current simple mechanics. In-game advertisements covered server costs.[12]


Valadares never marketed outside of his single post on 4chan, where he received feedback and users formed "cartels" to get on the in-game leaderboard.[12] Its initial success is instead attributed to its popularity among online content creators such as YouTubers and Twitch streamers. Only a week later, the YouTube channel Vinesauce uploaded a gameplay video of On 30 May, PewDiePie, a YouTuber who then had over 42 million subscribers, uploaded the first of nine videos and called it his "new favourite game". However, he stated in the video that his fans had been requesting an video for a long period of time—it had already become popular via word-of-mouth across social media.[9][10][13][b] Dedicated YouTubers saw their subscriber counts quickly rise.[14]

Commentators also suggested's accessibility as a free browser game, as well as the addictiveness of its simple and intuitive mechanics, as reasons for its unexpected success.[10][13]

In March 2016, videos reached two billion views on YouTube.[14]

Digital Trends said in 2021 that still maintained an active core fanbase.[4]

Mobile game[edit]

After meeting with him in Lisbon, mobile game publisher Miniclip began working with Valadares at the end of April 2015. They were attracted by's wide appeal; the game already had five million daily players and Miniclip executive producer Jamie Cason stated that their staff were all playing it within a week.[3][13] Miniclip released mobile ports of on the App Store and Google Play on July 8.[9] It became the number one app on the App Store in the United States, United Kingdom and 32 other countries.[15]

Reception[edit] was praised for the addictive nature of its simple gameplay and graphics. PC Gamer included it on its list of the best browser games.[16]

Engadget described the game as "a good abstraction of the fierce survival-of-the-fittest competition that you sometimes see on the microscopic level."[17] TouchArcade praised its simplicity, strategic element, and "personality".[18] It was chosen by SFGATE as App of the Week in August 2015.[19] Criticism was mainly targeted towards its repetitiveness and the controls of the mobile version. Tom Christiansen of Gamezebo was mixed on the game, saying that there was "nothing to hold my attention" and that it was "highly repetitive, overall".[20] Pocket Gamer, reviewing the mobile version, described its controls as "floaty".[21][22]

Game journalists also noticed that the ability to choose usernames and skins enabled players to declare their support for geopolitical causes and figures in-game. Some even formed alliances with players supporting the same causes. Others adopted internet memes and online platforms as their skins, as well as offensive usernames.[18][23] One reviewer jokingly recounted: "I've ... seen the Earth be swallowed by Pubes, Steam absorb EA, and France split in two and flee from Mars before being eaten by Your Mom's Ass (which was, quite frankly, enormous)."[6]

In the weeks leading up to the June 2015 Turkish general election, Kotaku noticed that players using names related to Turkish politics were prevalent and often cooperated against other political parties.[5][24] An article in the journal Games and Culture argued that the feature was the main reason for's success. It noted that provided a platform for competing ideologies in a "survival of the fittest" simulation when they would instead be shut down on social media. In an effort to make the game more commercial, Miniclip improved moderation and removed the Swastika and ISIS skins, a move which was described as furthering the game from its original 4chan audience—Valadares himself had refused to remove the Nazi skin on Reddit.[9][10]

Because it was frequently propagated through social media and broadcast on Twitch[6] and YouTube,[25] was a quick success. The website (for the browser version) was ranked by Alexa as one of the 1,000 most visited websites[26] and the mobile versions were downloaded more than ten million times during their first week,[27] and 113 million times as of December 2016.[28] During 2015, was Google's most searched video game.[29] It was Google's second-most searched game in the United States in 2016.[30] A 2015 press release by Miniclip stated that was listed as the fifth top game on YouTube's list of top games.[31]

Similar '.io' games[edit]

Inspired by's success, Steven Howse released the snake-themed in March 2016. The game soon reached the top 10 most downloaded apps on iOS and Android, buoyed by the similar word-of-mouth and attention from YouTubers that had propelled By June, had hit over sixty million daily players.[32] It eclipsed's popularity,[4] pushing it to second place to become the most Googled game of 2016.[33]

The rapid rise of and led to the beginning of a new genre of browser games, dubbed ".io games" for the domain name they use. Characterized by simple graphics and gameplay in a free-for-all multiplayer arena, .io games received around 192 million visits in 2017.[3][10][4] Many .io shooters launched after—Valadares released in July 2016. Miniclip also began developing new .io games.[3][34]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the fourth season of the television series House of Cards, the character Frank Underwood is briefly shown playing Underwood compares its objective of eating smaller cells to get bigger to a presidential campaign.[35]


  1. ^ Sometimes called or pronounced "agario" (/ˈɡɑːr, ˈɑː-/).
  2. ^ Valadares had submitted the game through Steam Greenlight on May 3. Despite quickly receiving approval, was never released on the Steam platform. Cameron Lindsey, writing in the journal Games and Culture, supposed this was because of its existing popularity as a browser game.[9]


  1. ^ Irmak, Şafak (14 May 2015). "İnternetin Yeni Çılgınlığı:" [The Internet's new craze:]. Webtekno (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  2. ^ ", le nouveau jeu phénomène sur iPhone/iPad et Android". (in French). Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Takahashi, Dean (11 February 2017). "The surprising momentum behind games like". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Nicol, Will; Hicks, Michael (28 March 2021). "Eat and Be Eaten: How to Survive and Thrive in". Digital Trends. Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  5. ^ a b Grayson, Nathan (26 May 2015). "A Game That's Become A Political Battleground". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Livingston, Christopher (27 May 2015). "Agario: the dot-gobbling browser game that's a hit on Twitch". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b c "Comment battre vos collègues au jeu en ligne" [How to beat your colleagues in the online game]. Le Monde (in French). 3 August 2015. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  8. ^ " a guide to the hit game – and the best tips to win". The Week. 20 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e Lindsey, Cameron (March 2019). " The Game's in the Name". Games and Culture. 14 (2): 154–169. doi:10.1177/1555412018821483. S2CID 150281404. Archived from the original on 5 May 2023. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d e Castello, Jay (22 February 2018). "The rise and rise of .io games". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on 6 May 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  11. ^ Smith, Sam (3 October 2015). "The new mobile update – what's new?". Miniclip. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  12. ^ a b Christian, Jon (5 January 2016). "A Browser Game Called Got Googled More In 2015 Than 'Fallout 4'". Vice. Archived from the original on 7 May 2023. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  13. ^ a b c Burgess, Matt (12 April 2016). "How addictive simplicity made a global hit". Wired UK. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  14. ^ a b Takahashi, Dean (3 March 2016). "Darwinian bacteria survival game has bagged 2B views on YouTube". VentureBeat. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  15. ^ Gordon, Scott Adam (30 July 2015). " can the Play Store's top game continue to grow?". AndroidPit. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  16. ^ Hadley, Jupiter; Palmer, Philip; Macgregor, Jody; Morton, Lauren (9 May 2022). "The best browser games". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 10 April 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  17. ^ Fingas, Jon. " brings massively multiplayer games to the Petri dish". Engadget. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  18. ^ a b Carter, Chris (28 July 2015). "'' Review – The Amoeba Boys (and Girls)". TouchArcade. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  19. ^ Kaul, Greta (14 August 2015). "App of the week:". SFGATE. Archived from the original on 5 May 2023. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  20. ^ Christiansen, Tom. " Review: Bursting Your Bubble". Gamezebo. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  21. ^ Fox, Glen (14 July 2015). " review". Pocket Gamer. Steel Media. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  22. ^ "Ludicrously popular browser game is now available on iOS and Android". Pocket Gamer. 10 July 2015. Archived from the original on 23 July 2023. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  23. ^ Brandom, Russell (16 August 2015). "This online blob game has reduced me to a shell of a man". The Verge. Archived from the original on 16 August 2023. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  24. ^ "Web game becomes latest battlefield in Turkish politics". Hürriyet Daily News. 27 May 2015. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  25. ^ Matuk, Pablo. ", el nuevo y sencillo juego de moda" [, the new and simple game in fashion]. Unocero (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  26. ^ " Site Overview". Alexa Internet. Archived from the original on 1 September 2015.
  27. ^ "How conquered the App Store, without spending a penny". Pocket Gamer. 28 July 2015. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  28. ^ " amasses 113 million mobile downloads in 20 months". Pocket Gamer. 6 December 2016. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  29. ^ Makuch, Eddie (16 December 2015). "2015's Top Trending US Games on Google Revealed, Number 1 May Surprise You". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 28 January 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  30. ^ Fitzpatrick, Alex (13 December 2016). "These Were the Most-Googled Video Games of 2016". Time. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  31. ^ " is #5 on YouTube's list of top games". 22 December 2015. Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  32. ^ Needleman, Sarah E. (17 June 2016). "As '' Goes Viral, Game's Creator Scrambles to Keep Up". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  33. ^ Cowley, Ric (14 December 2016). " beats to be the most Googled game of 2016". Archived from the original on 5 May 2023. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  34. ^ Hodapp, Eli (21 July 2016). "'' Hits the App Store From the Creator of ''". TouchArcade. Archived from the original on 16 August 2023. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  35. ^ Schreier, Jason (7 March 2016). "House of Cards' Newest Video Game Cameo: Agario". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 11 May 2023. Retrieved 11 May 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]