The GTA: Online Roleplay mod is one of Twitch's most popular games, but can it survive losing creators like Lirik and Sodapoppin? Let's investigate.
Over the last few months, the roleplaying mod for Grand Theft Auto Online has attracted some of the biggest names in streaming, and as a consequence began accruing viewership numbers on Twitch comparable to the platform’s most watched titles, like Fortnite and League of Legends. The game mode, which uses private servers for a consistent cast of other players, is built upon, of course, role-playing, with players staying in character at all times and even getting jobs, playing the role of garbage man or police officer or, in the case of Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris, a recruiter at a vineyard named Kevin. Its emergence has transformed what was already a successful title into one of the most popular games in streaming.
But, as explained by Nathan Grayson over at Kotaku, some of those big names appear to be on their way out. “Many previously popular streamers dropped out as quickly as they dropped in, but folks like Sodapoppin, Summit, and Lirik stuck around, turning GTA RP into their main game,” he writes. “However, as of the past couple weeks, all three have abandoned their stomping grounds in Crime City, USA, seemingly with no plans to return.” These three creators have among the largest audiences on Twitch, so we wondered: was this a sign that ‘GTARP’ was losing momentum? Is Grand Theft Auto Online going to return to its original numbers of broadcasts and viewers? Let’s take a closer look.
Some Creators Have Left… But Many Still Remain
Since the launch of the most popular roleplaying servers in mid-March, eleven creators have accrued at least two million hours of viewership while playing GTA Online. Now, looking at the title’s top contributors for the month of May, six of those creators still remain.
It would have been only five, but Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar actually returned to the title after a several week hiatus on May 9th, and he is the top performing streamer in terms of viewership for the game over the last two months, so that’s a pretty important detail. More broadly, of the original eleven aforementioned creators, five of the top seven contributors are still playing the title, including each of the top four. While Saqib “Lirik” Zahid and Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris appear to have, indeed, moved on, in addition to the return of Summit, creators “Lord Kebun,” “MOONMOON_OW,” and “Vader” all remain and continue to pull in large numbers. So it appears that it may be true several large creators are no longer contributing their sizable audiences to GTA Online’s overall viewership, but even those big names who have left weren’t the game’s top contributors. The biggest names in the community don’t seem to have gone anywhere.
Grand Theft Auto Streamers Doubled… and They’re Sticking Around
Shown above are the total Grand Theft Auto V streams since the beginning of February. The rise of Roleplay began in mid March, when all of the big names above, and others, jumped into private servers and began featuring the title as their main game. The boost this gave the game’s overall Twitch presence is obvious, with average peak streams reaching approximately twice previous levels. What’s noteworthy is that, even when Summit, who as previously mentioned is and was the top contributor in the category, was absent from the space between April 24th and May 9th, the community retained most of that growth. And, of course, Summit has returned to the game, which bodes well for these numbers in the future.
This is really impressive. Role-playing is a lot of fun to watch, with tons of organic storylines and unique paths to take each character. We would have to do some serious digging to find out what percentage of these new channels are playing on private servers using the mod, but it stands to reason it’s a healthy percentage. This free, user-generated addition to the world of Grand Theft Auto hasn’t just reinvigorated the game’s community, it’s shot it to the very top of the Twitch charts. The fact that many creators are sticking around, even after superstars have left the space, really speaks to how big the mod has been for the GTA community.
Play GTA:RP, Get Bigger Audience
When Summit left the game in April, he was praised by many in the streaming space for putting his own passion and mental health above Twitch performance and the success associated with it. Superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was very supportive, saying “To play GTA RP and go from 40-50k viewers to knowing that you’re going to lose half that viewership when you play other games and continue to stick with it, that’s tough, man. But the mental health of streamers and streamers actually enjoying what they’re playing and what they’re doing is way more important that numbers.”
This is a dilemma because, as Ninja said, playing Roleplay has been absolutely huge for the channels that have made it their primary title. Summit’s decline in viewership while he was away was only one example. Streamer “Lord Kebun,” currently the second largest streamer in the Roleplay community, was averaging approximately 500 peak viewers at the beginning of March. Within a week of the release of the latest GTA:RP servers, that number had climbed as high as 15,000, and now, he’s regularly reaching peaks of between 20,000 and 30,000 viewers. He’s also gained more nearly 190,000 new followers, and accrued more than seven million total hours of viewership. And he’s not alone.
Creator “Buddha” rarely saw peaks of more than one hundred concurrent viewers prior to his involvement with the Roleplay community, but, like Kebun, he’s not reaching daily audience peaks of over 10,000, and has climbed as high as 25,000 concurrent viewers, while also gaining more than 130,000 followers. The impact Grand Theft Auto: Roleplay has had on these and other channels has been overwhelming, and it’s easy to see why more and more creators are being drawn to it when viewers have demonstrated such incredible enthusiasm.
This modification isn’t just making already successful channels even bigger and more stable, it’s allowing smaller channels to explode out of obscurity and start accruing numbers alongside the biggest personalities on the platform. From that perspective, it’s even easier to understand why the title continues to do well, even as larger creators begin to move away. Audiences absolutely love watching GTA:RP, so much so that it is creating brand new Twitch stars. That potential for explosive growth is going to keep pulling more creators in, and keeping the title’s community healthy.
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