What is Among Us Game and why has it become so popular suddenly?

Among Us was a game which was launched in 2018 but it gained tremendous popularity in 2020 and is now one of the most sought-after games.

File photo of the Among Us game. (Image credit: Twitter/Among Us)
By Arnab Mukherji | Mar 18, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

In June 2018, an American game studio called Innersloth developed a game called Among Us. The game was in a space-themed setting, in which players each took on one of two roles, most being Crewmates, and a predetermined number being Impostors. The goal of the Crewmates is to identify the Impostors, eliminate them, and complete tasks around the map; the Impostors’ goal is to covertly sabotage and kill the Crewmates before they complete all of their tasks. Players suspected to be Impostors may be eliminated via a plurality vote, which any player may initiate by calling an emergency meeting (except during a crisis) or reporting a dead body. Crewmates win if all Impostors are eliminated or all tasks are completed whereas Impostors win if there is an equal number of Impostors and Crewmates, or if a critical sabotage goes unresolved.

It did not get mainstream attention and was largely deemed below average. However, in 2020, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Among Us saw an unprecedented surge. Among Us’ popularity was initially driven by content creators online in South Korea and Brazil and it was believed that the game was more popular in Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea than the United States.

The game’s popularity continued into the following months. YouTube reported that videos about Among Us were viewed 4 billion times in September 2020, and TikTok videos related to Among Us had over 13 billion views in October 2020. YouTuber CG5 wrote a song based on the game in September 2020, titled “Show Yourself”, and gained over 60 million views in 4 months. In September 2020, the game exceeded 100 million downloads and its player count rose to 1.5 million concurrent, then peaked at 3.8 million in late September. The sudden increase in players overloaded the game’s server.

What worked for Among Us?

The COVID-19 pandemic was frequently cited as a reason for the popularity of Among Us, as it allowed for socializing despite social distancing. Among Us was also praised for improvements over other popular tabletop games that had been inspired by Mafia, such as Secret Hitler. The game popularized the slang word “sus” which meant suspicious. This word had been used as a slang term before the game’s release.

Controversies and issues

During its time of widespread popularity, Among Us was controversially played by the U.S. Navy Esports team, in which players on the stream used in-game names referencing the N-word and the bombing of Nagasaki. The stream was deemed “offensive” and “intolerable” by some viewers. A planned sequel was also cancelled as Innersloth deemed the game’s codebase “outdated and not built to support adding so much new content”, so the team made plans to rework the game’s core code to enable adding new features.

The Associated Press noted the game was the most downloaded app on the iOS App Store for both iPhones and iPads in October 2020. According to SuperData Research, the game had roughly 500 million players worldwide as of November 2020, with the free-to-play mobile version accounting for 97 percent of players and the buy-to-play PC version accounting for three percent of players, though it was the buy-to-play PC version that generated 64 percent of the game’s gross revenue