by Aaron Miller
A video game that had nearly no players or viewers at the beginning of the summer just surpassed some of the most popular games ever created in a matter of months.
Among Us, an online multiplayer mystery and suspense game is shattering records for concurrent players and views on live streaming and other video platforms since getting its big break in August 2020.
The game, which was released in 2018 by Innersloth, an indie developer consisting of three employees, topped four billion views on YouTube in September, according to YouTube’s Culture & Trends discover and data page—statistics that AAA games with thousands of developers sometimes fail to record.
Twitch, the most popular platform for video game, esports, and other live streaming content, also saw Among Us racking in industry shattering numbers. In September, the game ranked third for hours watched and recorded 146 million hours watched, beating out powerhouse games such as League of Legends, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Warzone, and Fortnite. according to TwitchTracker.
Because of the influence gaming entertainers have over consumers, Among Us brought in 788.86 percent more average daily players in August (18,719) than in July (1,489) on the Steam version of the game alone, according to Steam Charts.
Innersloth can thank popular South Korean and Brazilian entertainers for beginning the wave of success Among Us has captured, and American Twitch streamer “SodaPoppin,” who first played the game in July in front of nearly 25,000 people, according to Twitch Tracker.
What makes the game so interesting to a wide demographic of players—which includes individuals ranging from as young as four-years-old to 100—is its depth of play that rivals popular board and card games such as Clue, Mafia, and Secret Hitler. All of these games have one thing in common—deception.
At its core, Among Us, is an online multiplayer mystery game that places 4-10 players on a spaceship, where the majority, dubbed “crewmates” are assigned with completing tasks, while the randomly chosen “imposters” have to sabotage or kill everyone before the tasks are finished. To make things more interesting, game chat is disabled during each round and is only reenabled when players reconvene to discuss who they believe the imposter is. If there is solid enough evidence (or not) players can vote an individual out. If all of the imposters are voted out the crewmates immediately win the game.
Whichever party succeeds with their mission wins the game and has their player icons and names prominently displayed on screen.
With the unforeseen circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon most of the world’s population, individuals are seeking new ways to interact with their friends online. Among Us provides players with a way to chat, have fun, and occasionally lie to their friends.
Allowing for an even higher ease of use for players, the game has cross-play ability between Windows PC, using the Steam game client, and iPhones, iPads, and iPods running iOS and phones and tablets running Android. The game is free-to-play on mobile devices, and is $5 on PC, with both platforms sponsoring in-game cosmetic items for about $3 each.
Apart from its record breaking viewership and players, the game has quickly become a popular culture phenomenon. U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently livestreamed the game to nearly 425,000 people and played with some of the gaming industry’s top talent to raise awareness for voting in the November general election.
Among Us memes and gifs have been created to go along with every popular cultural moment, such as the first 2020 Presidential Debate where young people shared a meme saying “orange is sus,” which translates to U.S. President Donald Trump being suspected of wrongdoing.
Despite the game’s sudden and exponential growth, there is speculation that the wave will eventually crash. Competitive tournaments and competitions typically are what keeps a game relevant more than a couple of months and esports organizations have not had much success on that front.
FaZe Clan, which is valued at $240 million by Forbes, hosted a $25,000 Among Us tournament recently. While the official livestream and individual streams by the competitors saw huge success, the structure and competitive landscape did not hold up well. Like other party and communication focused games, Among Us at its core is not intended to be a competitive game.
However, as long as viewers and players are interested in Among Us, the amount of content and hours played will continue to grow and cement itself as one of the most played and watched games of 2020.