Unprecedented, globe-spanning popularity is cool and all, but it comes with drawbacks. The three-person development team behind AOC-approved deception sensation Among Us has been struggling with hacking issues for quite some time, but late last night, one particular hack forced their hand.
The hack, which many players have encountered over the past couple days, is extremely specific, causing players in text chat to spam messages that advertise the YouTube and Discord channels of a person who goes by the name Eris Loris, alongside a website that offers cheats for games like Garry’s Mod and Apex Legends. In various permutations of the message, which appears to afflict all players in a match, Loris threatens to “hack your device” or “blow up your phone” if you don’t subscribe. It concludes with an unrelated but unsubtle political message: “TRUMP 2020.” Via bots, he has managed to spread this hack to many Among Us games, with some players claiming that it’s occurred in hundreds or even thousands of matches.
Last night, Among Us developer InnerSloth announced on its Twitter account that it was “super duper aware” of the hacking problem and would be pushing out an “emergency” server update to mitigate it. “Please play private games or with people that you trust!!! Bare [sic] with us!!” the studio wrote.
An hour later, programmer and business lead Forest Willard tweeted that he was rolling out the update and explained why it had taken some time.
“The reason I didn’t roll this update out sooner is that I was afraid of false positives: You totally might see the game think you’re hacking when you’re not,” Willard wrote. “I’ve done my best to find this kind of bug, but my hand is forced this time.”
Kotaku reached out to InnerSloth for more information, but the studio didn’t reply in time for publication.
Kotaku also reached out to Loris, who took responsibility for the hacking spree. Like many hackers, he does not regret pissing off a boatload of players; that was the goal.
“I was curious to see what would happen, and personally I found it funny,” Loris told Kotaku in a DM. “The anger and hatred is the part that makes it funny. If you care about a game and are willing to go and spam dislike some random dude on the internet because you cant play it for 3 minutes, it’s stupid.”
Loris said he’s a Trump supporter, which explains the last portion of his message. This type of recruiting, though under-discussed, is not uncommon in video games—especially in games popular with younger audiences. Granted, Loris just managed to infuriate everybody, so it’s unlikely that his message got through. Loris went on to say that he plays Among Us with friends and thinks it’s “fun,” but also that he feels no remorse for causing trouble for the studio behind a game he likes.
“Among Us may be a small developer team, but that’s not my fault,” he said. “The game is at a scale bigger than most [triple-A] games. There is nothing stopping them from getting more developers, so the ‘it’s 3 people’ reasoning means nothing to me.”
But Loris’ line of reasoning, which is shared by other players who believe that InnerSloth could just hire a bunch of people to solve Among Us’ larger hacking problem, only makes sense if you don’t know how game development works. It takes time to scale up a development team between hiring, training, making sure code is legible, and a million other factors to ensure that a live game like Among Us doesn’t just suddenly break, rendering millions of people unable to play it indefinitely. Developers can’t just staff up overnight; if studios are not careful, more people can cause more problems than they fix.
Loris claims that his bots have not been halted by InnerSloth’s hotfix, but it doesn’t seem like players have reported landing in hacked lobbies in the past handful of hours Regardless, given the prevalence of cheats and hacks in Among Us’ public lobbies, the studio unfortunately has a lot of work ahead of it.