Among Us - What made this indie game so popular?

If you are someone not heavily involved in the world of online gaming, then the Among Us thunderstorm may have taken you by surprise.

And well, if you still haven’t heard about this game at all, we pray that your hermitage adventure has given you the spiritual enlightenment that you were looking for.

But if you have, then it isn’t unusual to wonder about the whole deal behind this one game.

Briefly: If you’re unaware, Among Us is a self-deduction game where the players are segregated into two categories of players – Crewmates and Imposters. The primary focus is for the Crewmates to find out who these Imposters are while completing specific tasks. On the other hand, the main goal of the Imposters is to sabotage the progress of Crewmates and kill them.

So, if the Crewmates can’t kill, how will the Imposter be eliminated?

Ah, here is where things get interesting. At any point during the game, the Crewmates can call a meeting. During this meeting, all the players can communicate via text and figure out who the imposter is.

After each meeting, the players get to vote, and the one who receives the most votes is eliminated.

While it may seem like Among Us seemingly gained popularity almost overnight, that’s definitely not the case. This game, formerly known as InnerSloth, was launched in 2018 and was not a success.

It wasn’t until August of 2020 that Among Us gained exponential popularity and started to fly over the Steam, Android, and iOS app charts.

With millions of active players, Among Us became the most played online game in 2020.

This murder-mystery game was well under the radar for two years, so how did it suddenly gain so much popularity?

What made Among Us popular?

It was gaming streamers from South Korea and Brazil who realized the untapped potential of this game.

The gut-wrenching tension that the viewers experience on streaming platforms when they know what side the streamer is on made this game extremely exciting for the players and the viewers.

As soon as the game hit the YouTube and Twitch market in the United States, the game was an instant hit.

The game videos on YouTube gained over four billion views in September 2020. The game had around 60 million active players every day, and a massive chunk of them were iOS and Android users.

In fact, InnerSloth had announced a sequel to be launched in August. However, the sudden spike in traffic in September made them go back on this announcement and instead work on fixing the original game’s issues and improving its features.

But while the game’s popularity is justified, why are people attracted to the game in the first place?

What is it about the game that gets people so hooked?

This game revolves entirely around mind games. While there are hundreds and thousands of online games where you have to kill your opponents, this game ventures into uncharted territory.

This game not only depends on communication and cooperation like many multiplayer games but also deception and sabotage.

Among Us - Deception & Sabotage

It’s an asymmetric multiplayer game where you don’t know your opponents, and you can only keep going if you are better than the rest.

It’s more like survival of the fittest. It’s life.

What else can make a game more interesting than a literal reflection of the very essence of life?

Mind Games

At the end of the day (erm, game?), the Imposter must be good enough to convince the Crewmates to vote out and eliminate their own comrades.

They have to manipulate the Crewmates into trusting them, know how to divert attention by spinning lies and nailing the blame onto the other players.

This psychological manipulation is what makes this game so brilliant.

Among Us - Game Play

Imagine, even liking someone too much can get them to be voted out!

Guilty Pleasures

Nobody admits their guilty pleasures out loud, and businesses that capitalize on these most innermost desires are the ones that are the most successful.

Among Us is no different.

We, humans, get a perverse sense of joy when we successfully deceive, lie, trick, or otherwise manipulate others. Among Us is a platform that allows us to indulge ourselves without harm.

We can’t, in good conscience, indulge in these deep-rooted guilty pleasures in real life. Well, not if you’re a law-abiding and socially adaptive person.

The euphoric sensation of successfully slithering out of a problematic interrogation is something all humans are attracted towards.

A Simple Premise

Most of the popular online multiplayer games, like Fortnite and PUBG, have an extravagant setting. Their graphics are outstanding, which is one of the main reasons for its popularity.

On the other hand, Among Us has a simple 2D interface with hand-drawn cartoons as characters.

The layout is very simple, where you can memorize the best places to hide and ambush crewmates if you are an Imposter.

If you are a Crewmate, you will have to understand the most efficient means to move around and how you can best protect yourself.

The baseline is that you need to be good at recognizing behavioral patterns.

The game doesn’t have many visual stimulations; it has very few variables. What makes it interesting is your own mind.

So, What’s Next?

This dynamic where a team’s work is against another human’s manipulation and deception is not something any other popular game has explored before.

Well, it goes without saying that now that this game’s core psychology has proven to have such potential, we can expect a lot more games to explore this dynamic.

But as for Among Us, the developers are focusing on improving the current version by including more stages and making it more user-friendly for colorblind players.

While they have canceled the launch of the new and complex version of Among us, that doesn’t mean that the idea is completely scaped.

And well, who knows? If the game suddenly drops down from its millions of concurrent players, they may go back to release their second version of the game?