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The Real Reason Among Us Got So Popular So Fast

For indie developers, games that release to very little fanfare are not unusual. In fact, that's the norm most of the time. There's a lot of competition out there for the hearts and minds of gamers, and indie developers often lack the marketing dollars needed to get their attention. Every once in a while, a groundbreaking title slips through door and, for a brief period, becomes the life of the party. But it's not common.


Where a Call of Duty title's launch success can almost seem inevitable — it's going to sell no matter what — a successful indie release is more akin to a winning lottery ticket. People do get them, but they need to be in the right place at the right time. They need to be extremely lucky.

That's what makes the post-release trajectory of Among Us so unique and fascinating. It originally released in 2018, and languished in relative obscurity for nearly two years. In 2020 — seemingly out of nowhere — the game became a worldwide sensation.

How did something like this happen? How did this quirky little game go from zero to hero so quickly after being out for so long? Here's the real reason Among Us got so popular so fast.


Among Us checked all the right boxes

If you go by what PC Gamer said in September 2020 — right after Among Us shot off like a rocket — the game hit a few sweet spots all at once, which led to its breakout success.

Board games in the style of Mafia were becoming more popular, and Among Us – a sort of video game spin on that concept — was ready to take advantage. Twitch streamers also helped the game reach a larger audience; a crucial component to ensuring a multiplayer title has staying power. Last but not least, the coronavirus — which continued to ravage the world in 2020 — also meant that people were looking for ways to hang out and do traditional things remotely.


Among Us was the closest some friends could get to spending time together while playing a sort of Mafia-style board game. It may not have been quite the same; there's no replacement for staring down a potential "imposter" seated across from you, after all. But the reality of 2020 — and a combination of other circumstances – are largely responsible for why the game went viral, and why it was (and at the time of publication, still is) a huge hit.