Due to the pandemic, 2020 was an incredible accelerator for video games. We’ve had insane successes like Animal Crossing: New Horizons or the free RPG Genshin Impact. As with the latter, new names have entered the very closed club of large annual boxes. Including: Fall Guys and Among Us, exclusively multiplayer titles. So much so that a trend that could rule through 2021 seems to have calmed down.
Which 2020 release do you think became the most popular game of all time? More like Cyberpunk 2077, new blockbuster from the Polish CD Projekt Red or maybe The Last of Us Part II, heartbreaking and perfectly mastered story from the Naughty Dog studio? Well, neither of them. And the correct answer isn’t even a triple-A. The designated as such was developed by a team of only three people : It is Among Us, a kind of Garous Wolves by Thiercelieux online, which has become a phenomenon in the world of streaming and video games in general in 2020, while its release dates back to 2018.
According to the SuperData organization that monitors industry trends, the title has merged 500 million active users on PC and mobile last November and could therefore claim the title of “Most Popular Game of All Time by Monthly Players” and “By Far”. A number that is undoubtedly more important now, Among us who joined both the PC Game Pass catalog and the Switch catalog in mid-December. It will appear on Xbox Series and One in 2021.
InnerSloth’s game would even have managed to replace the indebted Pokémon Go, whose largest known audience dates back to May 2018 147 million players had gathered for over a month to catch the pocket monsters. In an article by The edgeCarter Rogers, an analyst for SuperData, explains The game that came up with Among Us brings together “only” 300 million people a month. The question: How can this success be explained and will it be repeated for other games in 2021?
“Thank you” the pandemic
The global pandemic is obviously the first reason that comes to mind. Throughout most of 2020, several countries have opted for a restriction, sometimes national as in France, sometimes according to the outbreaks at risk, as in the US or Japan. In all cases, the observation is simple: Millions of people ended up in their homes with more time to spend on hobbies like video games. Last May, Nintendo estimated that sales of its hybrid console had increased 24% compared to the previous year, which also led to supply problems. The joint venture in particular has proven to be a great way to rediscover social bonds. Participation in online multiplayer games on the Microsoft Game Pass has thus increased by 70% in March 2020 compared to the previous month.
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It is a fact that the pandemic has exaggerated the results of the industry, be it in terms of sales, players, but also for everything to do with live streaming. Between March and April 2020, the number of hours displayed on the Twitch platform would have increased significantly 1.645 billion hours observed every month. A delusional result that can of course be explained by the increase in the number of people in front of their screens, but also by the simultaneous arrival of millions of new streamers.
A streaming boom that is no stranger to Among Us. It is thanks to Twitch that the multiplayer title was kind of successful, when very large streamers (including Sodapoppin and xQC which bring together millions of subscribers for the English speaking world) were interested. Before 2020, the game did not exceed that thousand simultaneous players. And recently Among Us was the scene of a record stream in which the American Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez garnered 439,000 viewers at the same time (200,000 more if we count the streams of the other party members, very well known). The goal: Promote the United States’ suffrage as the country prepares for the appointment of its new president.
Marketing Sauce Streaming
Streaming arguably sparked the miraculous fate of Among Us (the game’s success came in spurts in 2018 and 2019 according to its developers). The media Vice First of all, for his part, that the reasons for this story caused by COVID-19 are hidden in the nature of the title, Type of transcription of the year 2020 in the form of a video game
I think the current climate of social distancing reinforces the potential that already exists (in Among Us, editor’s note). – Marcus Bromander, artist and game designer at Among Us in Kotaku
While there are as many interpretations of Among Us’s success as there are chances of being a crew member in a game (that means a lot), this story highlights one more thing: the incredible influence of streamers on a title’s popularity, Containment or not containment. We remember, for example, the thunderous start of Apex Legends that managed to team up 25 million players A short week after its release in February 2019. All thanks to a strategy that focuses on Twitch and the start of which was launched by the parties of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the superstar of Fortnite, among others. The man would have received a million dollars from Electronic Arts publisher to treat himself to the title.
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And what other battle royale recently created a place of pride, especially thanks to Twitch? Yes, it’s Fall Guys, the game inspired by Takeshi’s Castle by the British at Mediatonic. “Notable” because The title was available for free to PS Plus subscribers at launch and for a month. A big boost that made it possible to become the most downloaded game of all time on PlayStation subscription. The strategy had already worked wonders with the famous Rocket League.
And in contrast to Among Us, whose success is still a great godsend (“We’re really bad at marketing” InnerSloth’s Marcus Bromander explained in an article by Kotaku) Mediatonic prepared the ground well. The journalist Jason Schreier reports at Bloomberg What The company has partnered with around 3,500 streamers for Fall Guysor a potential of 250 million viewers among fans and subscribers. Also note the effectiveness of the title’s Community Manager Twitterwho gathered 1 million subscribers in just six months thanks to quirky, often funny posts.
Power of Mobile and free to play
But it won’t have escaped your notice that we now hear less about Fall Guys than Among Us, as Mediatonic spawned Season 2 of content, even if the third was more generous. Yes, InnerSloth’s title isn’t an example in this area either (the first invisible card since its media explosion will arrive in early 2021), but Between us, Fall Guys is much less reliant on major updates than Fall GuysThe latter draws strength from its levels and gameplay, while the other works wonders thanks to situations created directly by the players.
Regardless, the success of Among Us also shows how mobile and The free-to-play model can multiply the potential of a title. In order to, SuperData reports that “64% of August through November sales (under” Us “, editor’s note) were made by PC users, who represent only 3% of gamers.”. And according to the Sensor Tower organization, the mobile version of InnerSloth’s title, which is free for iOS and Android, recently passed the exam 217 million downloads. To ensure its revenue, InnerSloth can also count on its microtransactions that enable the purchase of cosmetics in Among Us.
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The mobile / free-to-play cocktail has made others happy in 2020, like Activision and its Call of Duty license, which is particularly successful thanks to the Battle Royale Warzone and COD: Mobile, two free games used as a goal to serve entry for newcomers. And let’s not forget the other very big surprise of the year: Genshin Impact, Chinese role-playing game with gacha sauce that has grossed hundreds of millions Both are available for free on PC, PS4, Switch, iOS, and Android. Successes that the pandemic seems to have exacerbated. In addition to the globalized health crisis, successes such as Fall Guys or Among Us show above all the effectiveness of certain strategies (passing on streamers, mobile version, free-to-play) that can completely change the fate of games. Not to mention the most important thing: being a good game, but also a game that stands out.