How Among Us became a mega-hit, thanks to Amazon Twitch

Among Us is a multiplayer PC and mobile game that has suddenly exploded in popularity, becoming one of the hit video games of 2020. Although it was released in June 2018, Among Us did not emerge as a hit until recently, when video game streamers on Amazon’s Twitch service realized it was the perfect game for pandemic quarantines and started streaming their contests.Developed by InnerSloth, a small studio in Redmond, Washington, Among Us was download nearly 42 million times on Steam in the first half of September, according to Safebettingsites.com, and it was downloaded nearly 84 million times on iOS and Android that month, according to SensorTower. The game hasn’t left the top five on Apple’s U.S. App Store since Sept. 1, and it has seen more than 158 million installs worldwide across the App Store and Google Play to date, SensorTower says.It’s easy to play, fun, and inexpensive, and has emerged as one of the best pastimes for virtual socializing amid a pandemic. What is Among Us?Among Us is a modern take on classic social deduction games like Mafia and Werewolf. Using a PC or mobile device, users play as crewmates and must accurately identify the impostors among them or complete their tasks to win. The impostors, meanwhile, achieve victory by killing off their crewmates or sabotaging the spaceship. The game randomly chooses the impostors at the start of each game.Among Us is a multiplayer PC and mobile game that has suddenly exploded in popularity, becoming one of the hit video games of 2020.Salvador Rodriguez/CNBCThe 2-dimensional cartoon game is played on one of three futuristic maps: A spaceship, space station or planet base. The short, two-legged crewmates run from room to room, completing simple tasks like solving puzzles and swiping their ID cards. All the while, they must be on the lookout for any of their peers who act suspicious, or “sus,” and report any dead bodies they come across. Once a body is reported or an emergency meeting is called, players discuss what they saw while completing their tasks in an effort to out the imposters. These discussions take place within the game’s in-app chat function or on a complimentary video-calling app, such as Discord. Users can join public games online or create their own private games. Each game has a unique code that users can give to their friends so that they can join. Games can be as small as four players or up to 10 players. PC players can download the game for $4.99 from Steam, a popular game app store built by Valve. The game is also available for free with ads on iOS and Android devices, and users can pay $1.99 to turn off ads. Users can also pay for cosmetic items, like pets, to customize their crewmates’ looks. Why is it so popular?Initially, the game was only available on mobile, and wasn’t released via Steam until months later. Even though it only had a small following, InnerSloth continued to update the game with new features based on player feedback, slowly but surely making it better. A few months after Covid-19 forced people around the world into quarantine, Among Us caught the attention of popular video game streamers on Twitch, Amazon’s market-leading video game streaming service.With its virtual gameplay and dependence on social interaction, Among Us was a perfect fit for virtual socializing — like a board game you play online. In July, Twitch streamers began to play the game with their peers, broadcasting their gameplay and introducing Among Us to their numerous followers. “The game had been building a small yet loyal following for more than two years before it shot into the spotlight thanks to Twitch streamers,” said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at SensorTower. “Its current success was really born out of that platform more than traditional social media, which is where most viral app hits find their launchpads.”Adoption of the game grew from there due to the low-cost of the game and the simplicity of its gameplay. Although users must complete tasks, these actions are easy to perform and doable by anyone who knows how to use a touchscreen or operate a mouse and keyboard. As the game has grown in popularity so have the memes around it, creating a flywheel effect that draws in more users and keeps them coming back. As with any viral hit, the next challenge for AmongUs is maintaining and growing its success. Already, the studio InnerSloth has shown a commitment to the game. In August, the studio announced that it would begin to develop a sequel to the game, but those plans were quickly cancelled a month later. As Among Us continued to grow in popularity, InnerSloth canceled plans for the sequel to maintain focus on the original and continue supporting it. The company is adding an additional map, for instance.”We have lots of other things planned too, we just need to prioritize and organize all our plans,” InnerSloth said in a blog post in September. “Stay tuned!”

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