The developers of popular party game Among Us have spoken out about the new Fortnite mode Impostors, which seems to lift more than its fair share of ideas from the popular indie game.
First things first, let’s get this off the bat- there are few, if any, truly original ideas. The core concept of Among Us wasn’t created by the team at Innersloth, with secret killer-type games existing in Garry’s Mod or even physical party games like Werewolf.
That being said, Among Us exploded in popularity in the past year, despite being on the market long before its pop-culture boom. Everyone from Vtubers to your friends at a party were playing it, completing tasks to not arouse suspicion before waiting for the optimal time to kill off their innocent crewmates one by one and avoiding Dangan Ronpa-esque trials.
Programmer on Among Us Gary Porter tweeted out some similarities from the Fortnite mode, noting the maps having a similar structure. He didn’t say much else about it, though he does mention that he felt compelled to say anything at all thanks to the new mode.
I haven't been tweeting much recently because I've been working so hard on upcoming content for Among Us. So it feels weird to be compelled to tweet again because of stuff like this.
— Gary Porter (@supergarydeluxe) August 17, 2021
That’s not to say the team at Innersloth are claiming any kind of ownership over the concept of lying to your friends for entertainment- Among Us co-creator Puff writes as much in a tweet, saying that unlike WB Game,s who tried to patent Shadow Of Mordor’s Nemesis System, they didn’t believe in such practices.
That being said, they expressed some disappointment in Epic Games as well.
“We didn’t patent the Among Us mechanics. I don’t think that leads to a healthy game industry. Is it really that hard to put 10% more effort into putting your own spin on it though?”, they write.
Community Director for InnerSloth Games Victoria Tran also echoed the sentiment in a separate tweet, mentioning that Fortnite’s use of the Among Us terminology really leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
“like game mechanics fine, those shouldn’t be gatekept, but at the very least even different themes or terminology makes things more interesting?” she tweets.
Adding to the frustration of these developers is the revelation by Puff that they actually would have been open to collaboration with Epic Games. In a tweet, they confirmed that they’d actually reached out prior to work with Fortnite, though few other details were given:
Worst part is we've been actively trying to collab with them.
— Puff (@PuffballsUnited) August 17, 2021
Chasing Trends With Default Dances (Editorial)
Normally, a game having an eerily similar mode wouldn’t be too much more than just a footnote. The problem is, any animosity towards Fortnite is, at this point, kind of self-inflicted. Fortnite is arguably one of the biggest games in the world, with Epic Games having made enough money off of the game’s microtransactions to willingly try and change the rules of mobile game platforms so they would forego their platform owners’ cuts just to help Epic Games’ bottom line.
Worse still, if you trace back Fortnite’s history, it hasn’t exactly garnered a lot of goodwill either- the original Fortnite, now called Save The World mode, came out at the height of Minecraft’s popularity, being yet another Building-survival game. Then, when the world became obsessed with PUBG’s introduction of Battle Royale into the mainstream, Fortnite became huge chasing that trend, too by adding the now-main Battle Royale Mode.
So for many, the concept of “Fortnite added Impostors mode as part of its creative vision” just isn’t a conceivable thought, and any attempts to innovate feel more like peeking over at someone else’s homework.
Where this really blew up also lies in the Among Us story, too. Among Us are the textbook indie underdogs, having gone from humble roots to being propelled into fame years after their initial launch, all thanks to word of mouth. With Fortnite being the juggernaut it is and Among Us being the underdog it is, it just comes across to many as yet another indie game getting pushed out of the way for a company with a bigger wallet.
This certainly seems to be the common sentiment, with streamers like Ross O’ Donovan claiming as such:
Fortnite started as a horde survival game. Then a more popular game design came along and they copied that.
Now they're doing it again?
Nobody is shocked. https://t.co/rvW9HGZ23o
— RubberRoss (@RubberNinja) August 18, 2021
As egregious as it is, it’s this editor’s opinion that it’s maybe not time to bust out the lawyers. Like the Among Us devs themselves have said, the idea of patenting game mechanics ruins the community spirit of video games, especially among indies where the goal seems to be much more about getting the game you want to make, vs making the game that’s going to sell well enough to feature Ariana Grande.
At the end of the day companies like Epic Games are running Fortnite one way, while indie game developers like Innersloth are running Among Us another way, with very different goals in mind. And copying what’s already popular is definitely a good way for one of those end-goals.