Nearly every time I’ve opened my phone the last couple weeks, I’ve tapped the Telegram icon and taken on the role of a crypto exchange CEO… who’s also a hamster, for some reason.

That’s Hamster Kombat, the latest Telegram gaming sensation that builds upon the simple screen-tapping premise of Notcoin before it. The success of Notcoin—which yielded a NOT token on The Open Network (TON) with a market cap that surged well above $2 billion at peak and an airdrop for players—appears to have supercharged this spiritual successor.

More than 150 million people are playing the game now, the developers claim, apparently on the hunt for a share of the coming TON airdrop that’s targeted for July.

What does it mean to be a hamster CEO of an exchange? Well, as in Notcoin, the core gameplay is simple tapping—in this case, a cartoonish hamster logo—to start earning in-game coins. But in Hamster Kombat, you can then spend those coins on a variety of upgrades to help grow your virtual exchange and get it in front of more people.

Screenshots from Hamster Kombat. Image: Decrypt

This means paying for partnerships, licenses, feature launches, tech support, and other things you might expect a crypto exchange to need. And for you, all this really entails is tapping on buttons in the game. But you’re spending money to make money, as the upgrades earn you more and more passive income when you’re offline.

There’s not a ton to it. But the “number-go-up” pull is strong, as it was in Notcoin and is in the mobile game Bitcoin Miner, and it’s easy to get sucked into the routine of hopping in and playing for a moment or two—and maybe claiming the daily combo or entering the daily cipher code to boost your coin pile.

Will those stray moments spent tapping buttons add up to a sizable airdrop haul? I’m not betting on it personally—but I know there are people pouring far more time and attention into this game than I am, and who are perhaps willing to spam out invites to their friends to boost their haul.

I approached Notcoin much the same way, checking in regularly but not really going above and beyond to try and boost my potential airdrop haul. Ultimately, the NOT tokens I earned were worth $170 or so at the peak price a couple of weeks after launch.


It’s hard to believe that Hamster Kombat will match that kind of tally, not only because it has about five times the players already, but also because Notcoin was such a new kind of social gaming phenomenon. Hamster Kombat has a little more depth to it, but it still feels like another stab at the same core premise.

But a few weeks later, it’s still my mobile diversion of choice as I pass 100 million coins. And who knows? Maybe it’ll earn you a nice little bag of tokens in a month or two. In any case, Hamster Kombat is an amusing way to kill a couple of spare minutes here and there and dip a toe into a social crypto phenomenon that’s quickly gaining steam.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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