Ah. Among Us. It seemed to be the one game to rule them all, for a time. As simple as it was genius, it was one of the most pro-social anti-social games ever made; you needed friends whom you love and trust but only so you could subsequently betray them by gleefully stabbing them in the back. Indeed, Among Us made for great TV, which is one of the reasons it was picked up by the mainstream audience, years after its initial release, to become one of the most popular games in the world — for a time.
What better story could there be for a charming little game like Among Us? Years spent collecting dust in some dimly lit corner of the Steam Store, serving a respectable but modest audience, only to seemingly be chosen out of nowhere by the gaming gods and thrust above all other games?
It was wild, phenomenal, watching Among Us soar through chart after chart to outdo venerable colossi like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Call of Duty. It was a story as compelling as its bare-bones mechanics, and millions flocked to the game in a time of lockdowns and quarantines.
But the Skeld feels a little more empty these days, doesn’t it? You can actually get into the top room on the first page now. Is something going on? Is Among Us dying?
Is Among Us Dying in 2021?
Yes. And no.
Among Us is, now, a shadow of its former self. After an explosive run at the absolute heights of popularity, no longer the reigning champion of Twitch and Steam. As of July 2020, few had yet heard of Among Us. Almost 2 years since its initial release, the game’s concurrent player peak record was approximately 6,700 on Steam. Two months later it capped out at almost 440,000 for September.
Streamers had come to realize that good content wasn’t just good games, it was good TV. And what makes better TV than one based on deceit, lies, betrayal, murder, and suspense. Nothing.
Couple that with the fact that the game was available for free on mobile with a cross-platform player-pool and everyone’s stuck at home, searching for ways to hang out from afar and boom! You’ve got a mega-hit the likes of which are rarely seen. Among Us‘ almost unthinkable success was a mixture of solid gameplay, streamer support, circumstances, and bona fide fun.
And it rode that mix to the top of the Twitch Directory too, where it stood at well over half a million viewers for three golden months in September, October, and November — #1, beyond even the likes of Just Chatting channels and goliath titles like Valorant, LoL, Minecraft and Fortnite.
Nowadays Among Us‘ stats are a far cry from that wild ride. The game started steadily shedding average Stream players in November, falling from 174,000-ish the month before to just over 110,000 — still, a wild number — and currently sits at about 50,000 for the last 30 days.
The same goes for Twitch, where Among Us now stands at 20th place in the directory with about 42,000 viewers at the time of this writing. Altogether, if we’re using Twitch and Steam charts as a metric, Among Us is down by almost 90% from its peak. An absolutely earth-shattering plummet.
But that doesn’t mean Among Us is dying.
Let us remember a game we all played just 4 short years ago: a little game by the name of Pokemon Go!. Do you remember when the streets were awash in Pokemon trainers of all ages, quitting jobs, skipping school, running into traffic while their brains did the backstroke in a pool of pure, unadulterated nostalgia? We do.
For a few months, it seemed you couldn’t have a conversation about anything without Pokemon Go! finding its way to Weedle into it. Governments were trying to ban it, and schools were formulating policies to combat it. The game was a full-blown cultural phenomenon — and then, as quickly as it rose, it seemingly vanished. The very spitting image of Among Us.
And fitting too, that the closest comparison to the game that ushered many of us through a large portion of these extended lockdowns with everyone trapped inside was the game that got millions of us gamers outside again, our vitamin-D deprived skin soaking up sunlight like solar panels while underworked calves grimaced in agony. Ah, those were simpler times back then. Good times.
But here’s the thing, Pokemon Go! never died. Not by a longshot. In fact, 2019 was reportedly Pokemon Go!‘s best year ever — making even more money than it did the year of its cultural phenomenon. Yeah. And you probably don’t know anybody who will openly admit to playing it anymore. But people are.
And while Among Us might be down 90% in terms of popularity, few games on Steam or on Twitch ever get even remotely close to the upper echelon of gaming popularity, let alone smash through the city gates and steal the crown.
Even a fraction of Among Us‘ momentary explosion in popularity is enough to make an effective game viable. With the new consoles launching in November, alongside giants like Assassin’s Creed and the then hyped to the gills Cyberpunk 2077, a downturn in popularity was downright assured.
To put things in perspective, Among Us is still, numbers-wise, rubbing shoulders with Destiny 2, Ark: Survival Evolved, and Cyberpunk 2077 — big games on their own with healthy playerbases to speak of. There’s no dearth of community when it comes to any of those games, two of which happen to be open-world multiplayer, so Among Us is, in reality, nowhere close to dead nor is it really “dying.”
So if you still enjoy pretending to help your friends before heinously slaughtering them in the shadowy recesses of spaceships and exo-bases, fret not. Among Us will have plenty of action and updates for years to come. Inner Sloth has a valuable and profitable IP on their hands that will experience a further ebb and flow in popularity as new content is added and the game naturally evolves.
And there’s nothing sus about that.