Last year, a colourful backstabbing party game from 2018 quickly became one of the most popular games on earth. But while Among Us (opens in new tab)' sudden success might've been a fantastic break for developer Innersloth, the pressure to keep that ball rolling reportedly resulted in severe burnout for the small studio.
Speaking to YouTuber Anthony Padilla (via Kotaku (opens in new tab)), Innersloth artist Amy Liu explained that she had "definitely burnt out" following an explosion of popularity that saw everyone from talk show hosts (opens in new tab) to US and Canadian politicians (opens in new tab) take to Among Us—and left the team feeling pressured to follow up on that success, fast.
"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!"
"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."
That pressure wasn't just self-inflicted, of course. Programmer Forest Willard added that "when you’re under hundreds of millions of peoples’ worth of pressure, they don’t understand that it takes months. The server issues should be fixed tomorrow, adding new stuff should be next week. It’s so easy. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s overwhelming."
Artist and designer Marcus Bromander noted that even small things would cause a fresh wave of ire with the newly-expanded community. "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.'"
At points, Bromander noted that the negative comments had him no longer wanting to work on the game anymore. But Among Us' success has let Innersloth expand with new staff—and while the game is still big, it's not quite as stratospheric as it was last year.
Innersloth still hopes to see the game grow, and plans to continue to update the game with new modes (opens in new tab) and 15 player lobbies (opens in new tab). But for now, the studio doesn't feel it needs to run itself ragged getting these updates out the door as soon as possible.
"There's no reason to need to get back up to that level," said Willard, "So it's not scary if you don't."