The number of players in space shooter Evolvation from a team called HyperReuts has grown from a few to hundreds of thousands in a matter of days.
Evolvation was released on Steam back in February 2017, but almost no one played it: the number of people simultaneously in the game was at most a few people.
To remedy the situation, HyperReuts decided to distribute ten thousand keys for free, but after a while they saw that some of these keys were being illegally sold and blocked them in the Steam settings. By mistake, not only pirated keys were banned, but also keys honestly obtained by users.
Players began to fill up the game page on Steam with negative reviews, and then the authors tried to contact Valve's technical support to get them some more keys, but were refused. In return, Valve offered to make the game temporarily free as a solution to the problem, which the developers did.
This led to the fact that a huge number of people came to Evolvation: the peak number of players at the same time was 172,870 people. But the servers of the game could not withstand such a load, and the authors urgently started updating them.
And this is not so easy for a team of two people, whose income from the game at the moment was only about a hundred dollars.