The most successful games of the year tend to have quite a lot in common. Big budgets, marketing, big teams and non-stop development support after launch. Among Us, by comparison is a micro-budget game produced by three developers over at Innersloth. So how did Among Us, lacking the budget or professional capacity of its rivals, become the fourth most popular game on Steam?
Among Us: Initial release returns only minor success
To say Among Us flew under the radar is an overstatement. Among Us never saw more than 50 players in its first 6 months, and never more than 1,000 in its first 17 months. Additionally, because games require 10 players to play under optimal conditions, the small player base also made picking up the game less desirable.
During the few months following its release, Marcus Bromander, an artist for Among Us, stated that “we’re really bad at marketing,” in an interview with Kotaku where he was asked about why a game capable of reaching over 300,000 concurrent players took two years to do so.
Among Us is a perfect example of the paradox of success. As more players picked up the game, word of mouth helped spread the game through small circles. When players with platforms on Twitch or YouTube began playing, this increased tenfold, and hundreds of thousands picked up the game. Success breeds success.
Additionally, the extremely low cost to purchase (free on Android and iOS, $4.99 on PC) meant that players were not deterred by a large price barrier.
Who began the current Among Us craze?
It’s actually fairly difficult to identify who exactly is responsible for Among Us having the delayed explosive success. In an interview with Kotaku, Innersloth’s developers talked about how the game found success in Brazil, Mexico, and Korea before ever finding a foothold in the United States.
Eventually, Among Us got picked up by big streamers such as Sodapoppin and xQc, who eventually spread it to more and more streamers. Those streamers, in turn, spread it to their audiences. And now the game seems to be everywhere.
At the end of the day, Among Us never would have found the success it did if the game wasn’t worthy of it. The game is fun. It’s fun to play with friends, it’s fun to watch others play, it’s fun to win, it’s even fun to lose if you don’t take it too seriously.
Innersloth created a game that was capable and deserving of an audience of hundreds of thousands. They didn’t achieve those numbers through marketing trickery or inconceivably large budgets, they did it by making an excellent product and waiting for the audience to come to them. To that end, they deserve to be congratulated.