Fortnite rips off Among Us with 'Imposters'

Originally published at: Fortnite rips off Among Us with 'Imposters' | Boing Boing


Is there case law about stealing video game mechanics? Are the mechanics themselves copyrighted? Would that mean that every sidescroller owes Sega’s Bomber money? How about for board games?


I think Roblox has an Among Us game clone as well.


Meh. Among Us “stole” its game mechanics from various social deduction games like “Mafia” or “Werewolf”. Stealing maps is maybe bad if they’re direct copies, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.


There are gameplay mechanics patents but they’re a bit controversial in of themselves going by how developers reacted to WB Games patenting a storytelling system that was featured in a Lord Of The Rings game.

Imagine Street Fighter being the only fighting game or Doom and/or Wolfenstein 3D being the only FPS game(s) on the market for at least a decade after they are introduced and you’ll see why many developers are iffy on those patents.


Yeah. The hidden role/social deduction genre has a long long history in table top games, Among Us isn’t even a new idea in PC/Mobile/Console games.

Off the top of my head there is a game called “The Ship” which is a bit more of a symmetric game, where every player has target to kill and a someone trying to kill them.

I also recall a game (but I don’t remember its name) where players are attending an embassy party, one player is an assassin the other a detective. The assassin need to impersonate the NPC party goers long enough to reach the ambassador without the detective finding them.

Epic’s problem is that they aren’t even trying to innovate at all from what I’ve seen, just a carbon copy of the game system into Fortnight. Legally that is probably fine, but it leaves players of either Fortnight or Among Us no better off then they were before this addition.


Which is also how Fortnite: Battle Royale started. Just a carbon copy of PUBG into the survival game Fortnite they were developing at the time.

So I guess they have form.


There’s a long tradition of stealing the heck out of other people’s gameplay mechanics/innovations in video games. Some more blatant than others, but it’s not overstating things to say the entire industry is based on it, so it’s normalized. (The early days of video games were powered by a heck of a lot of “clones” that were only very slightly altered versions of other games - that’s not really possible, now.)

It’s just that these days the innovation is happening almost entirely in lower-budget, mostly indie games, so when AAA games are ripping off their mechanics in big-budget games that get a lot more players (and undermine the innovators’ sales), it rankles. When AAA games (e.g. Warner Bros. with Shadow of Mordor) patent one of their rare original gameplay mechanics, it occasions a lot of side-eye, and rightfully so, because it really is a dick move.


And Team Fortress 2 had the Spy long ago.

Not even table top. Simple party games going back a long time.

Werewolf is the most famous formalized version.

But the core game play starts in murder mystery parties which are like $200 years old.

It’s called Assassin. And as “Sock Assassin” it’s a common community building thing at colleges and high schools. That variation has lots of assassins and “agents” and your weapon is a rolled ball of socks.

The whole mechanic is OOOOOLD and common. It’s been dropped into video games in a wide number of ways over the decades.


Colonel Mustard in the reactor with a laser.


Not to mention that the idea has been part of pop culture for generations in movies and other media such as The Thing.


yeah, it’s not like epic needs the money, so when they’re blatantly lifting game mechanics and levels, undermining small developers, it’s especially evil

they could have worked with the among us team, officially licensed it, and made everybody happy.

the connection to mafia, etc is much more tenuous.

would it be obvious to take those games and wind up with among us? id argue no

there’s lots of games you could make from that concept, and they came up with their own unique take. epic could have done that too. but they just wanted the sure win that someone else took the risk on

it’s totally a jerk move


Apparently the package name of Among Us is com.innersloth.spacemafia q:

Among Us is clearly derived from existing games/ideas, though they did add some things of their own. Epic is as usual copying popular games (like PUBG), but IMO still within the limits of decency, it’s not a carbon copy (and just a mode).

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like… the game. mafia is an in-person card based party game. among us is… not.

again the mapping between the two, the specifics of the play, how characters are visualized and move… those are non obvious adaptions

compare to if they had made an online card game

they still would have made money by simply licensing the game from the among us team. they could choose to be a good citizen, but they know they didn’t have to, so they chose the marginally extra dollars instead.

according to the developers epic even took one of their maps! lazy, and mean. legal, but unethical


i get that this is super irritating for indies, but it would be very unwise to pull the thread on this sweater for too long. can you imagine how many games would simply not exist if say, Nintendo or Capcom decided to drive a nail through the heart of every game that stole from their early work?

we would lose so much. “Among Us” is fun. I’ve never played “Fortnight” but I guess the kids like it. There’s room for both.

there are very few successful game mechanics, and there’s a whole lot more to game design than just the core mechanics. GMTK on youtube has nice explainer on why this is.


I asked this aloud and was told, “it does, it’s obvious. It’s not like they tried to hide it.” This person also laughed loudly when I read out the headline.


P.S. re: Roblox, I’ve found i can roughly bisect the parental cohort according to whether they call it “Roblox” or “Roadblocks.”


as much as i wish steve jackson would have used his time machine for more practical uses, it still doesn’t make me happy that epic is lifting from indy devs. and it’s not a good sign of their company’s health if that’s the best they can manage

reported 100 hour weeks is probably another sign that all is not well at epic, company culture wise, regardless of how much people love fortnite


I didn’t say it was purely based on mafia, just that it seems they used it as a premise due to the package name. Other games they probably looked at are mentioned in this thread.
(about the maps: It’s obvious for a game with such requirement to have hubs with interconnected smaller rooms around it, other than that they really don’t look much alike)

I don’t like Epic at all, and I like many indie games for their fresh ideas. Am a game dev myself, and only work with small studios, every bigger company I had contact with gave me bad vibes. But I wouldn’t want to work anymore if ideas got licensed. It’s like patenting brush strokes or material usage. Real copycat games do exist, especially on mobile, but this is not that, and the way Innersloth makes drama about this seems to me only to get attention and validation.

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