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Among Us - how an Indie Game became a global phenomenon within a month (10 min read) 

Among Us - is a multiplayer Indie game made by Innersloth.

The players have to work together to complete tasks found around the map, all while avoiding the Imposters lurking in the shadows, plotting the deaths of the crew. It's an engaging social deduction game that is available on PC, Android, and iOS

?Strategy & Tools

Highlights

  • Nov 16, 2018 - Game release date

  • Dec 2018 - Among Us was featured on the main page of itch.io

  • Dec 2018 - A Korean streamer named Kevin Choi, noticed the game and gave it their first boost

  • Beginning of 2020 - More streamers drove sales of the game

  • February 2020 - Amoung Us was featured on a Steam's Daily Deal  with a 50% discount

  • Jun 2020 - Among Us was featured on Steam Summer Sale with 75% discount

  • Jul 15, 2020 - Twitch Streamer Sodapopin Streamed Among US

  • Jul 18/19/20/21, 2020 - Sodapopin streamed Among Us again  

  • Jul 20, 2020 - Till that date the numer of peple playing Among Us on Steam didn't exceed 3k. After that, it started gaining traction and finally blew up.

  • August 2020 - Among Us reached 100k views on Twich

  • September 2020 - Among Us became the most-watched game on Twitch

  • September 2020 -The game reached a 100M downloads from the Google Android store

Good Quality Game
Among Us is a really good game!

It is well implemented, it is fun, and people like to play it for hours. 
Most of the game's reviews on steamare very positive.

Simplicity
Among Us has a simple rules.
You don't need to spend hours learning about it. A short tutorial and 1 or 2 games wll be enough. 

The game is easy enough, that even people who're not gamers, start to play it.

Numerous Of Strategies 
The holy grail of every game developer is to create a game with simple rules, yet open to various player strategies.

Best examples of such games: Tetris, or chess.

Charming Graphics
Colorful avatars, funny death animations, or even the cartoon bone sticking out of a corpse.
All of this little things make this game really fun to play and addictive. 

Low Hardware Requirements
Among Us could be easily played on every PC, even very old ones. Which isn't a usual practice today.

Normally to be able to play the popular games, you need a decent hardware to be able to start the game even on the lowest settings.

Low Barrier To Entry
With the price of $5 per unit, Among Us is easily one of the cheapest games on Steam.

The mobile app version of the game is free. 

Language Support
An underappreciated part of Among Us’s success is its language support—it’s available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Korean.

They Persisted
The problem with making a multiplayer game as an indie game developer, is that it's hard to get a sufficient enough number of people to play your game simultaneously, that there will be people to play against. 

Among Us started very slowly and almost flopped because of lack of players. They had to reduce the minimum number of players from five to four, even though it was barely playable.

Partnership With A Video Game Marketplace
Among Us team reached out and asked itch.io if they could be featured on the front page promotion.
They got it!

This promotion was noticed by a Korean streamer named Kevin Choi. 

Flash Sales
Even though the game was cheap from the beginning ($5) the flash sales promoted it to the bigger public.

Valve noticed the spike in Amoung Us sales and reached out to the Innersloth team, giving them the opportunity to participate in Steam's Daily Deal (a 24 hour quick sale) for a 50% discounted price. 

The Daily Deal sold a bunch of units, but more importantly, it drove a ton of people to wishlist it.

In June, Amoung Us was featured in the 2020 Steam Summer Sale and dropped the price to an all time low of 75% off.

Thousands of people from the wishlist got a notification about it.

One of those people was a Twitch employee named Pluto who had a friend named Sodapoppin.

Influencer Marketing
From that stream, Among Us Blew up in Korea and to this day makes up 50% of their audience on Steam. Here is the post they wrote shortly after that initial stream blew up.

Developer ForteBass gave even more details on how they built up their fame. Several other medium sized streamers discovered the game over the years. Then a streamer with about 580K subs named Kaif found Among Us, streamed it, and brought a new European audience to their game.

And Sodapoppin’s stream was what sent Among Us to go thermo nuclear.

Improve And Communicate
Innersloth team was updating the game and posting about it quite frequently.

They have posted at least 15 updates to steam community alone.

Among Us has been regularly maintained and the team has done a great job talking to their community.

They also setup an active Discord to manage their community. 

Timing
Year 2020 sucks. Covid-19 is still raging strong.

It's not that easy anymore to play party games like Mafia in-person. People are stuck at home.
Social interactions moved to Zoom.

Amoung Us is a greate alternative to have a good with your friends right now.

Memes
As Elon Musk once tweeted: "Who controls the memes, controls the Universe".

When something becomes a meme you can be sure it will go big.

The same happens to Among Us. 
When the game began to rise in popularity, it was impossible to get on reddit, 9gag, or 4Chan without stumbling upon the imposter memes.

Twitch
Twitch is for video games, as TikTok is for songs.
If your game get the traction on Twitch, you can be sure it will get  

Tools
Twitch
Discord
Steam
itch.io

?Psychology

The MAYA Principle
MAYA (Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable) It’s a principle that provides users with enough of what they already use (familiarity) and understand with enough new features that are easy to adopt.

The game rules might seem familiar to you. 

This addictive playability of Among Us appears to be inspired from a well-known party social deduction game, Mafia, which is alternatively known as Werewolf or Secret Hitler

The familiarity of the game, brought the wider audience to it.
People who were not really prone to playing video games, but were familiar with the party game Mafia could not enjoy socializing while stuck at home.

Socializing
A big part of Among Us’s success is simply that Mafia is a fun, endlessly playable game. It scales well to big groups. Trying to decide who to trust is always tense. Getting away with murder and turning the whole team against an innocent player is always a thrill.

Bandwagon Effect
The bandwagon effect is a psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override.

Among Us memes and videos are everywhere!
You can't scroll through the internet and don't come across it in one way or another.

Usually those memes and videos are hilarious! No wonder people want to be a part of it, especially right now.

Friendly Competiveness
For most people, there is something unexplainably compelling about the nature of competition. Some scientists argue, “competitiveness” is a biological trait that co-evolved with the basic need for survival.

The desire to "destroy" our friends and loved ones has always been the driving force behind games such as Monopoly and Counter Strike.

Sure, games in which we "fight side by side" for a goal also have their charm, but direct clashes and destroying someone's plans "here and now" always cause a thrill.

?Extra

  1. Though it seemed like Among Us came "out of nowhere" the game was already a big hit on mobile. 
    It was downloaded over 1M times back in May 2019. 

?Window of Opportunity

To gain initial traction, reach out to marketplaces, flash sales, small influencers, local press, small blogs and more.

Use the the already published content about your product as a proof for the slightly bigger publishers.

Build your way up until you reach the big guns. 

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