It’s not every day that a mobile game, developed by an indie developer with a three or four-person team, becomes the most downloaded game in the app stores.
We’re all happy to assume that in order to grow a successful mobile game (or app) you need:
However, InnerSloth, the team behind Among Us, had almost none of these factors in play when they launched the game. They still don’t have most of it in place, with exactly four people on their team according to their company profile.
So how come an understaffed and under-resourced team managed to manufacture such a success?
Well, given that some of the team members are pretty vocal with their opinions as to why it happened, we can assume it has nothing to do with an elaborate growth strategy planned out in advance.
As Marcus Brommander, the game designer and artist put it:
“… we were really bad at marketing”
I do believe we, the entire mobile marketing and growth industry, have a lot to learn from what Brommander and his team stumbled upon and smartly took advantage of. At the end of the day, we’re in the business of discovering the science of mobile growth, and the science that led to Among us’ growth can and should be replicated.
So let’s dive in!
Among Us is a cross-platform game that allows you to play with friends or strangers online and follows the mechanics of the good old Mafia/Secret Hitler/Werewolf game where you try to work with a group to identify a “traitor”. In short, you play with a group of people in a spaceship (there are two other possible maps) and one or more people are “imposters”. The non-imposters or crewmates try to accomplish various tasks to maintain the ship and the imposters try to sabotage the ship as well as kill crew members.
The crew tries to identify, then discuss, agree, and vote on getting rid of the imposters by throwing them to outer space. The imposters of course will try to confuse the crew as much as possible by derailing their conversation.
Each game has 4-10 people in it, and a game round takes between 2-10 minutes to complete.
So although the game itself didn’t have any significant IP or brand weight, it did build on top of the well-known Mafia game mechanic which is loved around the world.
Click here to see the game in action.
Among Us was launched on June 15, 2018 on mobile and by November 2018 rolled out for PC as well.
Among Us is available on iOS, Android, and PC (through Steam).
Among Us is running ads on the mobile version, selling a no-ad in-app purchase for $1.99, as well as selling skins and character add-ons on Steam. Recently the among us hack team also launched a merchandise store, although this is its most negligible revenue source.