'Squid Game: The Challenge': Everything We Know

Netflix has turned its most viewed show ever into a controversial reality competition.

players walk up a staircase in squid game the challenge netflix
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Squid Game, Netflix's most viewed series of all time, is returning to the streamer in a new form. In June 2022, the streaming giant announced that it had greenlit a reality competition based on Hwang Dong-hyuk's chilling K-drama about a Battle Royale-style tournament where impoverished contestants play death games for the chance of winning 45.6 billion won. The reality version of the series—which thankfully takes the death out of the series—invited 456 players to participate in games directly taken from the series and several new show-inspired events. It also includes a history-making $4.56 million cash prize.

Squid Game: The Challenge has received a mixed public response from day one, with fans of the original show questioning whether the execs who approved turning Squid Game into a reality show actually understood the anti-capitalist themes of the series. And earlier this year, reports came out accusing the reality competition of "inhumane" conditions on set, with contestants alleging that the show was "rigged." (Netflix and the show's production company Studio Lambert denied the claims at the time.) This fall, after months of controversy, the high-stakes game of survival is arriving on the streamer. Read on for what we know about Squid Game: The Challenge. (And for anyone wondering about Squid Game's highly-anticipated second season, we're keeping track of all updates here.)

When will 'Squid Game: The Challenge' be released?

The 10-episode reality series will premiere on Netflix on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, and air weekly through December 6. The official description for the show, which the streamer is calling its "biggest competition ever" reads: "As they compete through a series of games inspired by the original show — plus surprising new additions — their strategies, alliances, and character will be put to the test while competitors are eliminated around them."

Is there a trailer for 'Squid Game: The Challenge'?

As seen in the official trailer, Squid Game: The Challenge painstakingly recreates the aesthetics of the original series, from the stark, candy-colored facilities where the red-suited workers run the games, to the contestants' green numbered tracksuits, to the vast field and super-sized Young-hee doll awaiting them. The clip begins with hundreds of players starting a round of "Red Light, Green Light," and then shows glimpses of new games that appear to be inspired by claw machines and Battleship. Though we hear one of the contestants say, "It's a savage game," the clip also focuses on the quick bonds and subsequent betrayals that are formed as the players have to team up or fight against each other as the rounds progress. The biggest question the trailer answers: Eliminated contestants get a black paintball to the chest rather than a bullet.

What news has come out about 'Squid Game: The Challenge' so far?

In January 2023, British tabloid The Sun published one of the first reports about the series, with contestants alleging that they had to stand for hours in temperatures of -3 degrees Celsius (27 degrees Fahrenheit) while filming the "Red Light, Green Light" round, adding that medics were rushed in to assist at least 10 people who couldn't withstand the cold. One month later, Rolling Stone published an expose where four unnamed contestants confirmed the early reports and also alleged that the competition was rigged from the start, with sources claiming that certain cast members "appeared to be pre-selected to advance to the next round no matter the outcome of the first game." One source said of the show, "It was just the cruelest, meanest thing I’ve ever been through. We were a human horse race, and they were treating us like horses out in the cold racing and [the race] was fixed."

Netflix and U.K. production companies Studio Lambert and The Garden said in a statement at the time: "We care deeply about the health of our cast and crew, and the quality of this show. Any suggestion that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue. We’ve taken all the appropriate safety precautions, including aftercare for contestants—and an independent adjudicator is overseeing each game to ensure it’s fair to everyone.”

Quinci LeGardye
Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.