InnerSloth and Unity Gaming Services
InnerSloth’s idea for a Mafia-like game inspired by The Thing (1982) met with moderate success after being picked up by Korean and Brazilian audiences. The team was considering a sequel when, in summer 2020, the game was featured on Steam. This moment catalyzed Among Us to break the eight-digit mark in daily users, turning the game into the phenomenon we know today. But how did they deal with their sudden, explosive success?
Improving stability and UX as Among Us became the world’s most-played game
Mobile, PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One S, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Supporting a massive success
Among Us was released in June 2018. Post-launch, the game saw a spike in players much later in the year, when a South Korean audience picked it up. The next summer, it got another bump when Brazilian YouTubers helped the title accumulate another 1 million DAU.
In 2020, the game dropped to around 500K DAU, and the team began to think about a sequel. That August, the game was featured on Steam, and everything changed. It bounced back up over a million DAU… then doubled that nine days later, before finally breaking eight digits in DAU a few weeks later.
Among Us wasn’t built to handle such numbers, and its initial launch never hinted that it would blow up two years later. This kind of success is very rare, indeed, especially so long after launch for a game by a small indie team. In short, InnerSloth was not prepared.
Victoria Tran, InnerSloth’s community director, explains what it felt like to work on the game when it exploded in popularity.
“Suddenly, it became half a billion players. While it was exciting and amazing, it was also a shock to the system, and there was a stressful side to it, too. It felt like building a plane while flying it.
“Except the plane is overbooked, and you never expected the plane to take off, and the navigation is broken, and you’re understaffed, and everyone is demanding different in-flight meals, but you only had time to prepare pretzels, and now different airports are asking you to land in them, and they wanted all this by yesterday!”
Strength in numbers
Tran notes that the community is what kept the team going through the challenges that this popularity surge brought.
“We can’t tell you how much seeing someone’s fan art, animations, streams, mods, or messages, or hearing how the game helped them make friends, has pushed us through the tough dark times. We’re grateful for our community, and we want to do good for them.
”With sudden success came new problems. The team wasn’t scaled to tackle these kinds of challenges, and issues stopped them from working the fun parts of their game.
The InnerSloth team needed some backup to help them steady their airship, as well as to plan for future smooth flights as they built out ideas for new content and features.
Among Us’s servers were having difficulty keeping up with the massive amount of new players. There were frequent issues with players being unable to join lobbies or disconnected from games entirely.
The Unity Multiplay team worked closely with InnerSloth to deploy and stabilize their online multiplayer offering, even as millions of players around the world were creating lobbies.
The team behind Among Us also ran into ad-quality issues. Mobile versions of the game would show brief ads to pay for server and development costs, but it was hard to fully control what their players were seeing.
Unity Ads was able to step in and improve the user experience while giving the team more granular insight into what ads were shown in the game.