Innersloth Should Have Focused on “Among Us 2” After All
Among Us in on its way downhill and fast — unless Innersloth can make some smart changes, and fast
The game Among Us reached unprecedented levels of success in the year 2020.
If nothing is done, it will hit a rock bottom low in 2021 and only pull mediocre players and viewership for the rest of its life.
Among Us, the online multiplayer social deduction game that took young people by storm in 2020, is not looking so hot now in early 2021. The previously recorded 700,000+ viewers it once pulled on Twitch.tv is now down to a dozen thousand. Twitch viewership has become a barometer for success recently, and it is easy to tell that viewers and streamers have moved on to play Rust, now pulling in the hundreds-of-thousands of viewers that Among Us has lost. Many streamers are running hours-long Rust sessions on Twitch, and their fans are glued to their screens watching.
SteamCharts, a Steam analytics website, tells a similar story around Among Us players. The average number of players has dropped 200% since October. The game peaked back in September of 2020, players logged back on during Thanksgiving and Christmas season, but the decline has remained steady. The data is clear — gamers are not playing or watching Among Us anymore.
Why did Among Us reach such heights back in July, August, September of 2020? Three main factors propelled Among us to it’s nearly half a billion players:
- Streamers like SodaPoppin, xQc, Pokimane, and Disguised Toast popularized the game by playing in star-studded content-creator groups that sold a compelling narrative
- The ongoing global pandemic forcing school-age kids to remain at home and social distance urged young gamers to find new ways to play and interact
- The game is free on Android and iOS, and only $4.99 for PC and Mac, making it an incredibly affordable and accessible game.
With the buzz around Among Us and the low barrier to entry, gamers flocked to the social deduction game like crazy. But why are they moving away from Among Us in 2021?
The main reason Among Us is seeing dwindling numbers is because streamers have moved on. Streamers and content creators are hyper-focused on maximizing their viewership and engagement numbers. If the top content creators can’t pull viewer numbers with your game, they will move to another game — currently Rust.
Streamers are hitting a stumbling block with Among Us content because the content is fairly limited. Take some of Twitch’s mainstay games — League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, Rocket League, and Dota 2. Besides a triple-A budget, many things are lacking in Among Us that these games take advantage of to survive:
- Among Us has no progression system. There is no gameplay changes or incremental growth from playing many sessions.
- Among Us is a social deduction game first-and-foremost. Winning the game heavily relies on deceiving your fellow players, or discovering the true nature of the imposter. There is very little learned physical skill and action strategies in-game, and any such skill is learned quickly and early on.
- Among Us does not have enough content. There are not regular content updates or seasons that introduce new mechanics. The only way to experience new gameplay modes is via mods.
So, what can Innersloth do to save Among Us?
They need to pivot and pivot fast. They need to make more content. They need to rework their internal operations from the ground up.
Hopefully, the Innersloth team is hiring to meet demand — with their estimated millions of dollars in revenue, we should have seen Innersloth grow from a small indie circle to a beefy games studio. Hopefully, Innersloth is working on another game in parallel with adding new content to Among Us. Hopefully, Innersloth is trying to solve the problem of stagnation that is creeping up on their hit game.
I strongly believe that we will see a surge in players flocking to Among Us, once the new update that was announced at The Game Awards last year is released. But it may be coming too little, too late. It probably won’t be enough to save the game, unless they commit to regular updates and added content. The top games on Twitch retain their viewership by treating their games as a subscription service — and subscribers need a steady stream of new content to pledge their regular payments.
At this stage, players only have mod content to look forward to. Opening up your game and supporting the modding community is a great way to stay successful, but it is not a safety net. Mods for a game that does not have a toolkit ordained by the creators is a happy little accident that can potentially cause a lot of headaches for Innersloth down the line. Unless they embrace the mod community and open up their game for easier modding (which is a great and viable direction), they won’t see the volume of new content needed to keep their game afloat.
There was a time when I believed that Innersloth canceling Among Us 2 was the best move for both the studio and the players. But with the dearth of new content added to the game, Among Us is on life support. To drum up support, Innersloth needs to be working on Among Us 2 or better yet a brand new game that can freshen things up. Having “From the creators of Among Us” on a new IP will assuredly attract players for years to come.
But what if they decide to stick to their guns and only work on Among Us?
In the end, Innersloth needs to face its game’s competitive issues head-on and address them. A simple and fun party game with a low skill cap and sparse content updates (read: Fall Guys) won’t hold players’ attention long term. Games with progression, depth of strategy, and the need for some dextrous skill have longer lives — incorporating some or all of these concepts can give Among Us a second chance to take to the skies.
My insight notwithstanding, Among Us is a great success, especially given the small team size and scope. As a fellow indie game developer, I am always in awe of those scarce games that “make it” and see a degree of success. I strongly believe the promise of consistent content and updates will bring players back to Among Us. A “season” structure with a revolving selection of stages, tasks, and methods of sabotage can keep players engaged over the long run.
Are you interested in the landscape of indie games? Are you an aspiring game creator yourself? If so, I think you will enjoy some of my other articles on game design and trends in gaming. Thank you for reading!