An Among Us clone is one of China’s most popular new mobile games
Unexpected success can, paradoxically, create missed opportunities. Case in point: Perhaps because recent surprise hit Among Us lacks Chinese localization, an imitator has taken off in the country. According to the South China Morning Post, “Werewolf Among Us,” created by Shenzhen Youliang Technology, topped the Apple App Store in China this month.
Clones of popular games are inevitable. As SCMP points out, copyright laws in the US, China, and elsewhere don’t protect the rules of games, so no company can claim ownership of poker, or capture the flag, or games where color-coded people are stalked by imposters. Among Us itself is derived from popular party games Mafia and Werewolf—the latter inspiring the medieval monster theme of Werewolf Among Us.
However, Among Us ripoffs like “Killer Among Us 3D” don’t seem like much of a threat to the original Among Us, which has already established itself among players who speak its supported languages—it’s so huge that even US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has streamed it. What gave Werewolf Among Us a way in was the original game’s lack of Chinese localization. The enormous Chinese gaming market was just waiting for a good, localized clone of Among Us, and Werewolf Among Us has apparently done the job. It only just released on October 28.
That said, Among Us itself hasn’t done poorly in China. SCMP reporter Josh Ye says it’s 10th most downloaded game in the country on both the App Store and Steam. Steam is not a legally-approved videogame store in China, but people use it anyway. (Valve is working on an official version of Steam for China, which will apparently operate independently of the current, global version.)
It’s likely Among Us could’ve done even better in China, though. Back in April, we noted that after Disco Elysium received Chinese localization, it saw a big spike in positive reviews. Over the past few years, it’s become clear that developers who don’t include Chinese language support are potentially missing out on a lot of sales—at least so long as Steam’s global version remains accessible in the country.
After Among Us blew up in popularity, developer Innersloth cancelled a planned sequel to focus all of its efforts on improving the hit it already had on its hands. More translations are on the to-do list.
“The game is currently only translated into a few languages (and some of those translations are a bit rough),” wrote the dev in a recent update. “We’re planning on getting professional translations into multiple languages.”
Innersloth didn’t say which languages, but I suspect Simplified Chinese will be among them. Meanwhile, the studio is also working on an account system to help combat cheaters, a new map, and colorblind support.