Epic Games launched Fortnite: Impostors yesterday, a new mode that copies the Among Us game mechanics. While Among Us, the multiplayer game that soared in popularity at the start of the pandemic, was free on the Epic Games Store recently, Epic didn’t collaborate with Innersloth, the studio that created Among Us, for the new Fortnite mode. The developers behind Among Us are clearly surprised and unhappy that Epic has copied their game so blatantly, with social deduction gameplay and a very similar map.
“It would’ve been really, really cool to collab,” said Victoria Tran, Innersloth community director. “Like game mechanics, fine, those shouldn’t be gatekept, but at the very least even different themes or terminology makes things more interesting?”
Gary Porter, a developer for Among Us, also pointed out the similarities between the map that Fortnite uses and Among Us. “It’s okay though they flipped electrical and medbay and connected security to the cafeteria,” joked Porter on Twitter. “I wasn’t even around for the development of Skeld [the first Among Us map] and I’m still kind of offended.”
Calum Underwood, another developer on Among Us, tweeted and deleted what he referred to as “spicy tweets,” before then inviting other game makers to collaborate with Among Us instead. Kotaku also spotted that Adriel Wallick, a programmer at Innersloth, also shared a comic about the theft of art online.
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?— Puff (@PuffballsUnited) August 17, 2021
Innersloth co-founder, Marcus Bromander, said the company didn’t patent Among Us mechanics as “I don’t think that leads to a healthy game industry.” Instead, Bromander expected Epic to put more effort into their own spin on it.
Epic’s Impostors mode in Fortnite has obviously taken the Among Us team by surprise, even if it’s only a temporary mode in the game. The not-so-subtle hints at copying and art theft here come after small creators have accused Epic of stealing their work in the past. Epic has faced years of legal complaints related to emotes that the company copied from children and independent artists without paying for them.
Epic’s choice to copy Among Us also comes just months after the company’s bitter legal battle with Apple. It’s a legal fight that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has described as about “basic freedoms of all consumers and developers.” It’s not a great look if Epic is fighting for small developers in one sense, but undermining them elsewhere.