Party games have taken over Twitch this summer after Mediatonic’s obstacle racing title Fall Guys stole the attention of the masses. Since then, the two-year-old multiplayer deduction game Among Us has stormed seemingly out of nowhere to become the most-watched content on Twitch over the past two weeks.
The game, which generated little to no hype on streaming platforms like Twitch when it came out in 2018, has become a uniting force for streamers from a wide array of backgrounds.
The who-done-it title is most easily described as a virtual version of popular imposter and murder mystery games like Secret Hitler and Mafia. At the beginning of the game, at least one person is assigned as an imposter and the remaining players must complete missions without knowing who the imposter is. The imposter’s job from there is to sabotage others’ attempts at doing tasks and kill members of the crew until the number of crewmates matches the number of imposters.
In the past 30 days, the game is the second most-watched content on Twitch behind Just Chatting, according to Twitch stats website SullyGnome. And in the past two weeks, the game has pushed its way to the top of the charts, recording nearly 80 million hours watched in 14 days, according to SullyGnome.
But where did it come from and does it have the potential to be a consistent top form of content on Twitch?
Prior to July, Among Us had relatively insignificant viewership on Twitch. From 121,499 hours watched in June, the game saw its viewership on Twitch grow exponentially in July, hitting 4.1 million hours watched.
In gaming, this sort of growth is typically caused by one of just a few factors: esports events, influential content creators, or advertisements.
Due to the social nature of Among Us and the game’s age, it doesn’t take masterful deduction to realize that this trend was born organically through streamers playing the game.
In July, two popular variety streamers in particular—Sodapoppin and xQc—played Among Us, generating 631,279 and 336,518 hours watched, respectively. They managed that feat with just 32 hours of airtime on the game combined.
Outside of those two, the game had a growing assortment of Asian Twitch channels that were taking part in the game as well. Streamers like leechunhyang, handongsuk, and saddummy, among others, played the game, each racking up more than 100,000 hours watched in July.
Following massive growth in July, Among Us saw even more viewership in August with xQc leading the game’s viewership, pushing more than 3.5 million hours watched in 70 hours of airtime.
That growth led more variety streamers, like Mizkif, Rubius, and Trainwrecks, to play the game as well. In August, the game recorded 30 million hours watched overall despite going up against stiff competition in the party game genre.
Fall Guys, which was released at the beginning of August, touted nearly 113 million hours watched in August. While it probably took some viewership and streamer attention away from Among Us initially, it likely played a hand in the game’s current success.
With Fall Guys breaking into the top ranks on Twitch, streamers from every genre and background were exposed to the benefits a party game offers to a channel and the overall gaming ecosystem. While not every gamer is interested in MOBAs or first-person shooters, party games serve as a nearly universally unifying genre that, if done well, can attract viewers and streamers across all walks of gaming.
Fall Guys hasn’t been able to maintain the same success that it had in July and the viewership of Among Us is at least partially responsible for that. But it helped open the door for a game like Among Us to grow.
Can it thrive?
Viewership on Twitch is fickle. Nearly every month, there’s a new game that causes fans to ask the same sorts of questions. Is this the next big game? Can this game kill other more established titles in its genre?
Among Us has had by far its most successful month on Twitch ever—and it managed to do so without the hype of any new content releases.
The most important things to consider when determining the longevity that Among Us can have on Twitch are its replayability and organic growth.
As far as organic growth goes, the jump in popularity for Among Us was born from streamer interest. It wasn’t something that was generated from a top gaming publisher paying numerous high-profile streamers to play during a sponsored stream.
The rise of Among Us can be compared to something like what happened to Grand Theft Auto roleplay streams in the past year when Summit1g brought massive attention to the scene. GTA wasn’t anything new when Summit started playing, but his audience and reach attracted other content creators and shined a light on the game, turning it into one of the top 10 titles on Twitch consistently.
But unlike GTA, Among Us didn’t have much of a player base or streaming culture prior to xQc and Sodapoppin playing the game.
Summit playing GTA exposed viewers to an already-established category that just hadn’t gotten the attention it might have deserved. The explosion of Among Us will instead rely on top content creators to keep playing the game instead of moving to whatever shiny new trend pops up next month.
In terms of replayability, the game’s social elements make every round completely unique for each player as well as for viewers. But the biggest concern in terms of the replayability of Among Us would be player fatigue.
With the game requiring large amounts of social engagement and concentration, it’d be understandable that some content creators wouldn’t want to play the game for 40 or 50 hours a week the way that they might play Fortnite or Call of Duty. Those games rely significantly more on natural reflexes and mechanical skill than a game like Among Us that could be more socially exhausting to some.
Among Us isn’t going to disappear overnight. Over the course of the next month or two, it will likely remain one of the top games on Twitch. But its long-term viability will depend largely on how its developers keep the game fresh for top content creators who are expected to pump out 40 to 60 hours of livestream content on a weekly basis.
As the game competes with titles like Fortnite or Call of Duty that release new content on a regular cycle, including cosmetics and map features, it’ll behoove party game developers like InnerSloth and Mediatonic to continuously keep in-game content fresh to maintain the attention of top streamers.