How Did Lethal Company Become So Popular?

One in a million indie game.
Why is Lethal Company so Popular
Screenshot by Prima Games

Lethal Company seemingly came out of nowhere, taking the PC gaming world by storm. For an indie co-op horror game developed by a single person, I can firmly state that we have a cult classic after just a month of its existence, and all while it’s still in Early Access! But how did Lethal Company become so popular, and where did this meteoric rise come from?

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What Lethal Company Accomplished in its First Month of Early Access

The chart below may make your head spin, but here we are. Lethal Company has set the concurrent players record (184,015 players) on Monday, November 27, 2023. Casual players love it. Roleplayers love it. Streamers love it. Hardcore horror players love it. Even video game content consumers (some of whom won’t touch the game because they are too scared to play it) love watching funny highlights of Lethal Company online.

When it comes to Steam ratings, the game has the best Steam Rating for games released during 2023 – 97.33%. It is in the Top 5 games when it comes to the raw amount of positive reviews (soon to pass 110,000) while having just about 1,300 negative reviews (many of which are likely in jest, though the game does have some technical problems that would warrant an actual negative review).

In hindsight, Lethal Company has no big goals, no major storyline, and no competitive options. You hunt for scrap, run away from monsters, and then dump your scrap to the Company, either meeting the profit quota requirement and proceeding to an even more difficult quota for your next playthrough, or failing and getting launched into space Among Us-style. So, where is the appeal of this game?

There are many potential factors as to why Lethal Company is so popular and successful. Hell, jackfrags even said that it might just be his Game of the Year for 2023!

1. Proximity Voice Chat

Proximity Voice Chat in Lethal Company makes it so that you cannot talk with your crewmates if you are too far away from them (unless you buy a Walkie-Talkie), and if someone dies, they’re abruptly cut off from the comms without any in-game warnings or indications.

“I think there’s something in th—”

Famous last words of one of my crewmates the first day I played Lethal Company

This makes the horror setting of Lethal Company feel much more realistic and it can produce some really funny moments (like those “Perfectly Cut Screams” compilations).

Warning: Strong Language

Mind you, Lethal Company is definitely not the first game with a Proximity Voice Chat feature, but it sits so well in it and is very immersive.

2. Fast Pace of Games

Lethal Company is fast-paced and is also a decent “party” game. It’s not like some games where you must invest hours in order to get a good session in. You can just play it for an hour (or less), save your progress, and return another day to resume where you left off.

3. Easy to Pick Up, Hard to Master

Despite having little to no tutorials, the game is fairly easy to pick up, and most of the crewmates are glad to help a newbie out. Sometimes, your teammates may prank you. And you should prank other new players as well. It’s a great comic relief, after all.

“Just keep pressing this bell, and I’ll… I’ll… go and… sort our ship inventory? Yeah. Bye!”

How I got pranked.

Mastering the game, however, might be harder than one would expect. Luckily, we’ve got an extensive library of tips and tricks for Lethal Company here.

4. Low PC System Requirements

One of the major reasons why some games live longer than you would expect is their general accessibility from low-end PCs. Technically speaking, you can run Lethal Company on a mid-range PC from the 2015-2016 era.

5. Low Price

It’s just $10, which is amazing. Lethal Company’s price could possibly rise as it reaches the end of Early Access, but a low entry price guarantees that people who were on the fence about trying the game out might just push them in. Of course, you’ll have plenty of time to determine if the game is for you or not within Steam’s gracious refund window. I think it’s actually outselling Call of Duty by some metrics.

6. It’s Basically a Content-Producing Machine

Lethal Company has it all:

  • Stream potential.
  • Stream highlights potential.
  • Dark horror “Let’s Play” potential.
  • Perfectly Cut Screams / Deaths / Funny Moments / Jumpscare / compilation potential.
  • TikTok / IG Reels / YT Shorts meme potential.

“Yo, come look at this Lethal Company video I found last night.”

Colleague sitting next to me in the office trying to put me in the right mood since the early morning

When combined with the previous two points, that’s basically “word-of-mouth” marketing in the current digital age. I’ve checked YouTube just now, and there are eight videos that already broke the one million view count. YouTube keeps recommending various funny Shorts and short-form videos every day, and some of them are embedded into this article for your enjoyment. On Twitch, there is a consistent viewership for Lethal Company that oftentimes surpasses well-established AAA games.

7. It’s Very Moddable

Modding will give more angles to enjoy this game and will give it new life in case the developer abandons it. There are many mods that the community is enjoying already, one of them being the “Bigger Lobby” mod, which allows you to have more than four players aboard. Other notable (funny) examples are the mods to introduce Peter Griffin, Goku, Among Us characters into Lethal Company.

8. The Mixture of Scary and Funny Moments is a Dopamine Buffet

From time to time, we discover those games that make you go “just one more” with your buddies on Discord, whether it’s a MOBA, FPS, Battle Royale, or any other genre for that matter. It’s new to you, you want to get better, you want to see what happens if you do X, Y, Z… You want to see what is there to explore in the game.

“God damn it, it’s five in the morning again!!!”

Me during my university days when I kept promising to my friends on Discord that we’ll go to bed earlier tomorrow but we play until sunrise anyway.

A lot of funny moments are co-created by your playgroup, and despite not feeling the need to record them and post them online, you will remember them and tell tales about them for years to come.

9. Procedural Generation of Facilities

Facilities in Lethal Company are procedurally generated, meaning you’ll never enter the same compound twice. Not only does this keep the game more engaging and fresh, but it also leads to hilarious moments, like coming face-to-face with an active turret, or other adversaries immediately upon entering or leaving a facility.

10. The Community

The community is mostly very friendly, welcoming, and helpful, and they are mostly out there to have fun and not ruin someone’s day or grief their runs. Luckily, I haven’t encountered any toxic people so far. I’ve also seen quite a few RP lobbies for those interested in that type of gameplay. If the community remains as good, there’s not worry about the future of Lethal Company.

If you hop on Lethal Company, I hope you’ll enjoy it for a long while and make your purchase worthwhile. If you and your friends get bored of Lethal Company at some point, or you just want to take a break until some new content gets added, check out our list of games like Lethal Company.

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Author

Nikola L
Nikola has been a Staff Writer at Prima Games since May 2022. He has been gaming since being able to hold an Amiga 500 joystick on his own, back in the early 90s (when gaming was good). Nikola has helped organize dozens of gaming events and tournaments and has been professionally attached to gaming since 2009. His current favorite titles are Vampire Survivors, CS2, Legion TD 2, Below the Stone, Brotato, Power Chord, and Halls of Torment