Among Us developer Innersloth has explained how it dealt with the title's meteoric ascension during a recent chat with YouTube interviewer Anthony Padilla (highlighted by Kotaku).
Despite launching in July 2018, the meme-spawning social deduction game didn't become a household name until 2020 when it was picked up by well-known Twitch streamers and YouTubers -- and was even used by high-profile politicians to connect with voters.
That influencer uplift combined with perpetual COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, which also contributed to the social title's growth, saw Among Us become a liquid hot property almost overnight.
Among Us' rise to stardom was so swift that Innersloth actually scrapped a work-in-progress sequel to focus on supporting and expanding the first title -- which had amassed 1.5 million concurrent players at the beginning of September 2020.
That newfound success extracted a heavy toll, however, with Innersloth artist Amy Liu explaining how the pressure to suddenly deliver on multiple fronts became overwhelming.
"Among Us going viral, it was just like, 'OK, this is my life,'" said Liu. "The pressure to get things done quickly was really high. September to December, we’re talking to Xbox, PlayStation. They were gonna try to get Among Us on these platforms, which usually takes many months -- like, half a year to a year. We were like, ‘Three months! We’re gonna try that.'
"I definitely burnt out. It was tough because during all of this, we weren’t able to see friends and family. Being so tired from working, I couldn’t even go visit my family during COVID and had to spend holidays alone. That was definitely the hardest time."
Artist and designer Marcus Bromander also explained how the sudden tidal wave of fan expectation resulted in the team struggling to process a huge amount of scrutiny and negativity.
"The amount of attention that we had on us, and like, every little thing we do is gonna get looked at and criticized," added Bromander. "We changed the font at one point because it needed to be changed, and people were like 'Bring back the old font! I don’t like this new font.'"
"There was a while at the beginning of the year, when a lot of the negative comments were really starting to get to me, and -- combined with the overwhelmed feelings -- I was just like, 'I don’t even want to work on this anymore. I’m done.'"
It's worth pointing out that Bromander has since come to terms with the title's rocketing success and inevitable dip (though that's not to say Among Us isn't still hugely popular), with the designer acknowledging "you can't go up forever."
"There can be pressure to [be] like, 'We’ve gotta squeeze everything we can out of this game,' but I don’t think we’ll do that," he added. "We’ll do what we can with the game. Once there’s no more ideas, we’re not gonna force it."