Among Us’ immense popularity has spawned a near-identical clone game due for release on Steam, and players are getting pretty suspicious of it.
The ongoing popularity of Among Us has attracted copycat games, including one called Pretend that has the Steam community up in arms. Originally released in November of 2018, the simplistic multiplayer game of sabotage known as Among Us jumped in popularity in 2020. Developer Innersloth was working on a sequel to the game originally but canceled it in order to improve the game that players had suddenly latched onto. A game perfect for groups of friends or streamer team-ups on Twitch, it stands alongside Fall Guys as one of 2020’s breakout hits from the indie scene.
Because of that growing popularity, it’s only natural that other developers would look to Among Us for inspiration. After all, Among Us was not the first game to dig into the concept of spacemen hunting impostors in their midst. New Blood Interactive published Unfortunate Spacemen in 2016 on Steam Early Access, and that game has since jumped on the bandwagon somewhat by offering a free-to-play alternative to the more popular game. Spacemen is a first-person 3D take on the same type of premise, which means that there’s room for both in the conversation. There’s less room for games that lift the premise, design, and visuals of a game and then try to pass it off as a completely new product.
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Pretend is such a title, an Among Us also-ran releasing on Steam this month that does the bare minimum to differentiate itself from the streaming phenomenon. Taking place in an office instead of a spaceship, the colorful bean people must avoid “The Pretender” while completing tasks from a top-down perspective. The game borrows specific visual cues from Among Us to the point where it’s less of a homage and more of a mobile clone game that happens to be releasing on Steam. It’s also worth noting that Pretend‘s store page lists both a PEGI and ESRB rating, but neither organization’s official website has a listing for the release.
Pretend‘s Steam community forums are full of users either outraged at the blatant clone or confused about what the point of the release is. Developer whitesquare admits that Pretend was initially wasn’t meant for public consumption, but lists several features his version of the game brings to the table that Among Us lacks. These include in-game voice chat, new maps, and custom “sabotages,” among other things. The game will also be free to play on Steam, but not right away. The developers are planning on charging for the Early Access build, hoping to find players curious about an alternate take on one of the biggest games of 2020.
There’s a fine line between imitation and knock-off in the world of video games, but it seems that Pretend strays far too close to Among Us‘ design to be anything but the latter. It’s especially troubling that the developer is hoping to charge for the Early Access release, considering how much of its inspiration was lifted wholesale and plopped into its own project. These types of clone games can be quite harmful to indies, like in the case of 2468 stealing all the thunder of modern mobile masterpiece Threes. Pretend likely won’t harm the viral success of Among Us in the same way, but it still looks to be profiting from its inspiration’s success.
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Among Us is available now on PC, Android, and iOS.
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