The murder-mystery game Among Us was first released by indie developer InnerSloth in 2018 and floated under the radar for two years. Fast-forward to summer 2020, and the social deduction game has surged to levels of popularity on Twitch that its three-person dev team could have never imagined.
People in the tens of thousands love watching streamers try to deduce the imposter online, and Google Stadia's cloud-gaming platform may have just provided the perfect way to level-up the Among Us experience.
Among Us hit three million players across all platforms on September 28 and has consistently remained the most-watched game on live-streaming platform Twitch since late August. The title puts six to ten players aboard a spaceship. The "Crewmates" are tasked with figuring out who among them are the "Imposters" before the Imposters murder them all.
The game's sudden rise to internet stardom is in large part due to its popularity among Twitch streamers with massive followings, like Imane "Pokimane" Anys and Felix "xQc" Lengyel. Among Us is a game that millions of people love to watch as much as they love playing it, which precisely why it needs to implement something similar to Stadia's Crowd Choice feature.
Crowd Choice works similarly to how old gameshows would capitalize on the at-home audience by involving them in the process, whether by calling or texting in votes. That way, the audience is able to participate in the action.
Streamers playing games like Baldur's Gate 3, for example, will have the option to let their viewers vote on what actions and dialogue choices they might make. And in Dead by Daylight, viewers can select whether or not they want the streamer to play as a Killer or Survivor.
“When enabled by the creator, Crowd Choice brings the journey to YouTube viewers, where the Stadia Audience can vote,” the service’s official description explains. “The streamer is seamlessly presented with the results in percentages, and can then choose to follow the players, or to go their own way.”
For now, this can only be done on YouTube Studio, but it's the kind of intuitive innovation that can really change how streamers engage with their audiences.
Adding in-game support for a similar feature could let streamers and YouTubers host fan Among Us sessions where they let their audience decide who gets voted off — or at least weigh in based on the evidence to help the streamer cast their vote.
This is almost possible on Twitch right now by using the platform's poll feature, but that requires streamers to manually populate each poll choice every time they use the function, so it sort of requires a producer working behind the scenes to mange polls while the streamer plays. Plus, the streamer has the final call on who they want to vote out as the audience is never really controlling the game.
A more refined version Crowd Play in Among Us could instantly cast a vote for whoever the crowd decides without any input from the streamer, or perhaps the streamer could toggle whether viewers have full control or if they'd just be casting votes to help the streamer make their own choice. This would allow content creators to throw some variety into rather redundant Among Us stream sessions and further engage their audience, who clearly all wish they could play with their favorite internet personality.
There are no doubt some programmatic roadblocks to making such a feature a reality, but considering the fact that Amazon owns Twitch and is coming out with Amazon Luna, a cloud-based platform to rival Google Stada, it could be just the thing that decision-based games need.
Among Us is available now on PC, iOS, and Android.