By Feature Writer Jordan Fragen
Welcome back! This is The Next Level’s take on the key storylines behind the Top 10 Games on Twitch. Last time, we explored how League of Legends fared after the culmination of Worlds 2017, whether or not the boost in Overwatch viewership would last after Blizzcon, and the importance of understanding each game’s unique audience via a case study of Dota 2.
Now, let’s explore the top headlines from the week of November 27th through December 3th.
Thank you once again to our data partner, Waypoint Media. They are the leader in Esports and gaming audience data. They support clients like Nielsen in their efforts to understand the Esports audience. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fortnite Continues To Challenge PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ Dominance
2017 has been the year of the Battle Royale genre. While H1Z1 and others pioneered the genre, PUBG has commanded most of the attention in the space since it launched into early access back in March.
However, that may not be the case for much longer. Since peaking in late August/early September, Total Hours Viewed have been trending downwards for PUBG.
So what have viewers tuned into instead? Vigilant readers may recall that we highlighted Epic Games' Fortnite about a month ago. Since then, Fortnite as continued to chip away at PUBG’s lead. At the beginning of November, Fortnite only attracted 37% of the viewer hours of its rival in the same week.
A month later, Fortnite now has 77% of the Viewer Hours of PUBG in the same timeframe.
But perhaps more telling is that PUBG is continuing to flounder while Fortnite is surging in popularity. All stats for PUBG were within ±5% of the previous week, except unique viewers which fell 8%.
This stands in stark contrast with Fortnite. Compared to the previous week, Fortnite was up in every stat we track. From a 34% increase in Total Viewer Hours and Average Concurrent Viewers to a 26% increase in Unique Viewers, Fortnite appears to have the momentum.
There may be some hope on the horizon for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. A trailer for PUBG’s Xbox One X release is due to premiere at the Game Awards and will supposedly include footage from the highly anticipated desert map. We’ll see if this is the jolt PUBG needs to reclaim its once unquestioned dominance.
Hearthstone’s Ravenous Community Is About To Awaken
Oh, Hearthstone! While most of the esports community has focused on Blizzard’s efforts with Overwatch, the company’s quirky card game has continued to flourish. According to SuperData Research, April 2017 was the most successful month ever for the title. That is until August 2017 where it surpassed the previous record high. Both of these months were propelled into success by the release of the game’s most recent expansions (Journey to Un’Goro in April and Knights of the Frozen Throne in August).
The Twitch viewership data for Hearthstone is also a key indicator of the game’s health. In 2017, Hearthstone has been the 5th most popular game on Twitch (by Total Viewer Hours), placing it behind only the most popular esports titles (and PUBG). To further contextualize this, Overwatch is the 6th most popular title, but it only has earned 53% of the Viewer Hours of Hearthstone.
Unlike these other titles, Hearthstone’s popularity on Twitch is highly cyclical. At the release of the last two expansions, the Total Viewer Hours for Hearthstone have spiked significantly.
While this week’s numbers are nothing to sneeze at (increases of 2-8% in all stats from the previous week, except Peak Concurrent Viewers which fell 42%), this coming week will be very telling as the next expansion Kobolds and Catacombs is due out on December 7th.
The question is not whether Hearthstone's Twitch Audience will see a surge, but rather how large the coming spike be? This expansion appears to be one of the most anticipated yet, but time will tell if December continues the trend of record breaking revenue for Blizzard.
Overwatch League’s Preseason Begins With Plenty of Momentum
Last time The Next Level broke down Twitch Viewership data, we showed that Overwatch had managed to convert the excitement of the World Cup at Blizzcon into a sustained increase in most metrics. How has the game fared since then?
Despite sitting at #8 on our list, Overwatch has undeniably exceeded expectations.
In the 4 weeks leading up to Blizzcon, Overwatch averaged 2.5M Total Viewer Hours watched. In contrast, Overwatch has averaged 3.8M Total Viewer Hours watched in the 4 weeks following Blizzcon.
This means that buzz generated by the World Cup has lead to over a 50% increase Total Viewer Hours for Overwatch.
And the good news doesn’t stop there. In the same timeframe, Unique Viewers increased 24% (from 2.2M to 2.7M), Average Concurrent Viewers increased by 33% (from 17.8K to 23.6K) and on average, viewers were watching almost 13 minutes more per unique viewer.
All of these signs point to a potential growing audience for Overwatch years after its launch, driven by Blizzard’s investment into the game as an esport.