The past few years have made us all pretty numb to the depths of human depravity, but large swathes of people still remain shocked that anyone would dare cheat at a party game. First, it was Fall Guys. Now it’s the even less win/lose-focused Among Us.
Among Us is a game about players teaming up to do maintenance on a spaceship while some are secretly sabotaging it. It’s not really a white-knuckle competitive game so much as it’s an excuse to laugh and yell and argue with your friends. Despite this, some players are breaking the rules like children lifting the blindfold while taking a swing at the birthday party piñata.
If you peruse Among Us’ subreddit or search the game on Twitter, you’ll immediately stumble across a host of cheating complaints. These tend to take two forms: Some people cheat by covertly communicating with other players, who are actually their friends, and relaying information about who’s an impostor and who’s not—even if they’re not on the same team or have died and shouldn’t be communicating with anybody anymore. Others just straight up hack the game so that they can, say, kill everybody instantly, see who’s an impostor, or employ old standbys like cheats that make them go incredibly, needlessly fast.
Now, Among Us is a game that a lot of people play with their friends. Don’t want players swapping secrets over Discord? Boot your friends who are assholes. But not everybody has enough game-liking friends to fill a lobby, so they go online. That’s where things have gotten especially dicey due to the aforementioned hackers. Among Us development studio InnerSloth now finds itself in an even more impossible situation than Fall Guys developer Mediatonic, which has also been forced to fend off hackers after a not-entirely-expected popularity boom.
Mediatonic, at least, is fairly large as far as independent developers go and always seemed intent on making some kind of splash with its game. InnerSloth is made up of three people, and its game first came out in 2018, only to blow up due a series of sudden, entirely unplanned chain reactions on Twitch in July and August of this year. The company had actually wrapped development on Among Us before it became the quarantine “feel alive, if only for a few fleeting moments” game du jour and planned to move on to Among Us 2, only to about-face and resume tinkering around under Among Us 1's hood in reaction to its sudden popularity explosion. The game peaks at well over 300,000 concurrent players on Steam every day, making it the PC gaming platform’s third most popular game. It’s also the top free app on Apple’s app store and the top game on Google Play’s trending list. A major reason InnerSloth wanted to move on in the first place, however, is that, as programmer and business lead Forest Willard told Kotaku in an interview last month, the game was already in a place where it was “really difficult to make a change that doesn’t break the game or cause bugs or something like that.”
Despite that, InnerSloth is trying. In a Discord DM, Willard told Kotaku today that the team is doing its best to put out a number of fires, this one included.
“We’re rushing to get an account system in place so we can have better moderation and reporting systems built around that,” Willard wrote. “Also getting help with making the servers better at detecting and blocking hacks. And investigating client-side hack prevention as well. I’m sort of scrambling to get all the right people in place, but I’m attacking it from multiple angles so it can get better in many ways hopefully all at once.”
These things will, of course, take time, even with Willard and company rushing to make them happen. The question is whether or not players will have the patience to stick around in the meantime. For now, Among Us remains a sensation, but on the great list of Reasons We Can’t Have Nice Things, Ranked, cheaters are near the top (alongside capitalism and people who make podcasts about Elon Musk). Here’s hoping they don’t take this nice thing from everybody, too.