Top Rising and Falling on Twitch: 2/24-3/1
Which games are rising on the Twitch charts? Which titles are sliding? We bring you the hard numbers and reaction, every week, in the GAMESIGHT power rankings!
Note: The following rankings are based on a combination of both gross and percentage change to viewership and total streams. As such, dominant and stable titles near the top of the charts will not always, or often, appear.
Top 5 Rising New Releases
1. Dead or Alive 6
Following an impressive demo earlier in the month, the latest entry in the long-running fighting series from Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo was released in full on the final day of the week for these rankings. Still, its loyal following showed up in such great numbers that it’s performance in that day alone was enough to shot it to the top of our rankings.
From the point it released in Japan through to the end of the March 1st, the title was streamed more than 2500 times across over 1200 unique channels, and it was viewed for more than 274,000 hours. The latter is actually lower than some of the titles beneath it on this list, but none had close to its number of unique streamers or total streams, and that was in a single day.
All of this speaks to the power an established IP can wield in the world of competitive fighting games. Few genres offer the kind of sustainable market presence and permanent online community due to its built-in relationship with the eSports scene. If you’re an established franchise in the space, each new release in your series will come with a built in community of professionals, aspiring amateurs, eSports viewers, tournament organizers, and so much more. The immediate broad streamer-base of Dead or Alive 6 is more evidence of this reality. Over the next week, we’ll be watching to see whether it can continue to grow, or whether the low hanging fruit, though plentiful, was all there was to harvest.
Unlike our previous entry, Pacify from developer Shawn Hitchcock and published by SKH apps had the entire week to build up an audience, and it made the most of its opportunity, being streamed just over 1000 times across 934 channels and a total of 126,000 hours viewed.
Horror titles are, in many ways, where the boom of creator streaming began, and their appeal holds to this day. To be frank, audiences love to see people jump in their seats, knock over their microphones, get so nervous they're frightened by their own cats. So, when anything new in the genre pops up, even if it’s unexpected or a little rough around the edges, if it gets any traction at all it immediately becomes the thing to play for a lot of medium sized to smaller creators looking to show it off before their “competition.” That’s absolutely the case here.
There’s more to it, of course. The game released for a very reasonable $5 USD and features multiplayer, the kind of playground for high jinks and ridiculousness that allows streamers to team up and promote each other’s brands as they create better content. All these things have no doubt combined to contribute to Pacify’s strong debut. Most games of this type don’t last long on the Twitch charts, for sure, as the novelty wears off, but for a title produced by a single person and released with little fanfare, it’s an impressive enough week to call the game itself a success. It won’t be in next week’s article, but it’s an impressive showing, and likely the big surprise of the week.
3. Pogostuck: Rage With Your Friends
What would you get if you combined Getting Over it with Bennett Foddy with Journey? This crazy-hard bit of ridiculousness. Pogostuck: Rage with your Friends is a relatively short but intentionally difficult game where you try to climb a wacky mountain on an unwieldy pogostick. Released on Feb. 28, this title actually more than doubled Pacify’s numbers in total hours viewed, hitting just under 260,000 hours. It did so, however, across only 200 channels, with more than half of its viewership coming from just five streamers.
That’s not to undercut the game’s achievements. In only two days, it managed to double Pacify’s viewership totals for the entire week. If horror works so well on Twitch because it makes its players fearful, Pogostuck and titles like it, from QWOP to Surgeon Simulator, work because they elicit a different powerful emotion: frustration. Viewers are either right there with the creator, feeling the letdown, again and again, of not quite making it across a chasm, and sharing the joy of their eventual success, or they’re enjoying the spectacle of the streamer’s failure, enjoying their extreme reactions, real or embellished, along with the rest of the community in the chat. Why? I’m not here to psychoanalyse. What’s clear is that, from a viewership perspective, it works.
Will this lead to continued success on the platform? The next week will tell the tale. The title’s success came from relatively few channels, so if it generates a healthy amount of buzz it could catch on with more and more creators, but they’ll have to continue attracting creators like Giantwaffle and others his size if they want to keep this run going, and that might be a tall task. We’ll have to wait and see.
4. Ape Out
Speaking of QWOP and Bennett Foddy, he also developed the latest release from Devolver Digital along with Gabe Cuzzillo and Matt Boch, Ape Out, which was also released on Feb. 28. In the two days that followed, the title was streamed 413 times across 225 channels, being viewed for a total of just under 90,000 hours.
Interestingly, this stylized beat’em up reminiscent of games like Hot Line Miami saw half of that viewership coming from a single Korean streamer, and it doesn’t appear that many other big name creators have gotten their hands on it. Given that it’s so early in the title’s lifespan, it might simply be a matter of time before the game, either organically or through sponsorship programs, is played, at least a bit, by some larger names. But, it’s hard to know what the future will bring. The title is ridiculous, striking to look at, and seemingly a blast to play, so if it gets into the right hands it could carve out a nice niche for itself as something that pops up, again and again, for variety streamers. Without more attention, though, it might fizzle quickly.
5. Dawn of Man
We spoke about the streaming appeal of city builder and strategy games when Anno 1800 led a previous set of our rankings. In short: for streamers who like to put more substantial hours into games and include their community in the experience, these titles allow creators to essentially have an adventure with their audience, to experience a unique story, in which they are the major players, together. There are so many decisions to make, strategies to employ, secrets to discover, and because it’s a more cerebral experience, it’s easier to include your chat, to ask their suggestions, or even let them make calls for you.
It’s the love for the genre, and the awareness of its appeal, that no doubt led to Dawn of Man from Madruga Works rounding out our list of rising new titles for the week. Released on March first and thus only having a day with players, it nonetheless was watched for a total of nearly 54,000 hours across 912 streams from 288 streamers. Like Pogostuck, these numbers were concentrated pretty heavily, with the top streamer of the group accruing 24,500 hours of viewership, and only eight reaching over 1,000. This could mean that the game has yet to get into the hands of its primary player-base, or alternatively it could be a sign that the game’s appeal is somewhat limited. Still, given its genre and the strong viewership numbers, a stronger showing next week could be on the horizon. We’ll see what comes next for this newly released title.
Top 5 Rising Non-New Releases
1. The Division 2
It still hasn’t even been fully released, yet, but so many players and streamers have had access to both the closed beta earlier in February and the open beta which began on March 1 that it feels disingenuous to consider it a new release. Things get complicated when it comes to how to categorize betas, early releases, early access titles, or the like, and in the future we might create distinct rankings just for those titles. For now, though, given the incredible participation in its second event of the month, Tom Clancy’s The Division II comes in at the top of our list of rising games for the week on Twitch.
Though we can’t find disclosures that would lead us to believe there was a paid promotion campaign, the title managed to ride the participation of streamers like shroud and LIRIK to over 785,070 hours watched in the first day of the beta alone, while also seeing a total of 21.132 streams across 9486 channels. As of the end of the day the following Sunday, it was the fifth most watched title on Twitch during the weekend.
What we’re seeing is the development of a strong community right before our eyes. Using the staggered release we’re seeing more and more from major developers, Massive Entertainment and Ubisoft are steadily building a hype train that draws big time creators to each release event, not only because they want to play it, but because they know their audience wants to see it. Because everyone seems to be happy with what they see, it’s increasing excitement for the game’s full release and drawing a steadily increasing number of viewers who can support the game as community members. We’re only two weeks away from seeing just what that looks like, but we expect the groundwork they’re laying now to lead to success for months and maybe years to come.
2. Trials Rising
Our second ranked new release from the previous week, Trials Rising thrived in its first week of full access, achieving solid viewership over the weekend before building up a healthy daily rotation of streamers once the week started proper. It's interesting that both viewership and total streams peaked out on Monday, then tapered off as the week went on. We'll need to wait and see if this is a regular pattern moving forward.
We covered last week why the Trials series makes for such great streaming material, but its strengths are primarily in its multiplayer and open marketplace of custom tracks, things that are more conducive to long legs, a steady, lengthy lifespan of solid community interaction, than reaching the highest peaks of Twitch. This all helped the title accrue over 950,000 hours of viewership across nearly 8000 streams on 2337 channels. As we move farther away from the title's release date, it's fate will depend on whether these streamers stick around. If can prove to sustain a stable audience and community, it will be a regular feature, supporting the game itself, for a while.
Fortnite has been such a consistently dominant performer for so long that it doesn't typically make our lists; it's rises or falls are too small compared to its overall footprint to warrant notice. We would be remiss, though, if we didn't mention just how strong a week the global phenomenon from Epic Games just had.
While accruing more viewership hours than any other title on the platform, a 39% increase over the previous week, Fortnite also was streamed across an additional 53,323 channels, for a whopping total of 520,057. Given the back and forth between it and Apex Legends over the last month, this was truly a return to form for the most popular video game on Twitch, and a sign that, perhaps, suggestions of its impending fall to Earth in the presence of increased competition were well overblown.
4. StarCraft 2
When you're a foundational title in the eSports world, the power of that community and the attention it commands can propel your game to the top of the Twitch charts even nearly a decade after it was released. Such is the case with StarCraft 2, which was released all the way back in 2010 but finds itself near the top of our charts this week.
Last week saw the beginning of the Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII competition, one of ESL's flagship eSports events, an enormous tournament that lasts months and features the biggest names in the space competing for large cash prizes. Over those seven days, the ESL_SC2 Twitch channel alone accrued 1,247,425 hours of viewership, contributing to its more than 2.8 million hour total across 2876 streams.
This represents the ultimate success for an eSports title: to become such an irreplaceable part of the space that, years after release, your competitions still draw top-level numbers from across the world. This of course, was only the beginning of the competition, so it will be interesting to see how these numbers sustain over the months ahead. In the meantime, we take our caps off for one of the longest-running leaders in streaming once again returning to the top of the charts.
5. Hearts of Iron IV
In another example of what the release of an expansion can do for a title's Twitch viewership, Hearts of Iron IV appears as the final title in our top 5 on the strength of two content updates released within two days of each other. First, the latest update, version 1.6 'IronClad,' was released on the 27th, offering new content and improved mechanics to all players, while the next day saw the release of the paid expansion "Man the Guns," which added a great deal more.
Strategy games, as we mentioned above in our discussion of Dawn of Man, are perfect for community oriented streaming, but require frequent updates so that creators and players always have something new to explore or show off. Viewership for Hearst of Iron IV increased, over the past week, nearly 570% to a whopping 481,536 total hours across 977 channels. That's the power of a cultivated, engaged audience that's excited to see new content. For other strategy games building out their long term plans, this demonstrates how important updates and expansions can be.
Top 5 Falling Games
1. Metro: Exodus
Every week, there's at least one single-player game that, after achieving great success on the platform in its first week or so, finally falls back down to earth as interest wanes. This week, that game is Metro Exodus, with its viewership dropping over 78% and the number of streams dropping by nearly a quarter.
Well received and well reviewed, Metro's mixture of tension, claustrophobia, and expansive lore makes it an ideal game for personality focused streamers looking to take their audience on a journey. It can elicit the extreme reactions you see from a horror game, while, also featuring resource management and cerebral decision making to get the chat involved. That, plus its already established audience, combined to push Metro to the top of the charts in the weeks after its release.
It would seem, however, that most interested viewers have had their fill, and as streamers have finished the game, they're not diving back in for a second go around. Again, like with other single player experiences such as the recent Resident Evil 2 remake, this is not a sign of failure, but the typical path of a successful story-driven game on Twitch. It's time at the top may be over, but it was still a very positive sign that the game was a success.
As Tetris 99 exploded onto the scene, quietly, in the background, the original classic was carving out a sizable audience of its own. Whether it was players practicing for the new Battle Royale flavored update, or streamers looking to take advantage of the former's success by reaching the top of the page for a related, but less competitive game, it's clear that the new game's release has drawn a ton of attention to its original progenitor, and that led to a surprising week where the original Tetris was being streamed at a peak of nearly 50 channels a day.
This quick burst of attention was not to last, though, as while Tetris 99 continues to pull in a huge audience, the original is trending back towards stasis. In the past week, its viewership dropped 67%, and its total streams were cut in half. It's likely that we'll continue to see this trend moving forward until it falls back to the small numbers it had originally.
This one is really unfortunate, as our top rising new game of the previous week saw itself crushed by unexpected circumstances well outside the realm of typical gaming controversies. After a placeholder image containing a controversial Chinese phrase was found in the game, a torrent of bad reviews and admonitions fell upon the game's developers, and within a week of releasing their game, it was delisted on Steam and, it would appear, no longer available to purchase anywhere.
Obviously, this has completely tanked the game's streaming numbers, as you can see above, but that's secondary to the existential threat of the game not even being available. It's truly a shame, as the game from a small team was well received and strongly trending in the positive direction before all of this happened. Other developers should watch and take note; this is the power your audience can have. Sometimes, a controversy can become so sticky so fast that it completely destroys an otherwise fine game. You can never be too careful when avoiding controversy, and Devotion is that lesson in microcosm.
4. Far Cry: New Dawn
Like Metro Exodus, Far Cry: New Dawn is a single player, story-driven experience that, while flourishing in its first week or so on the Twitch platform, is beginning to see its numbers decline. What's interesting to note, though, is that this inevitable decrease in attention is less pronounced and later into the title's lifespan than the former, and that's likely do to the "sandbox" nature of Far Cry's gameplay.
New Dawn has a story, and actually represents the first direct sequel in the series's history, but for players it often takes a back seat to the open-ended nature of the gameplay, the fact that you can really go anywhere and do things in whatever order you'd like, or alternatively just mess around, causing havoc, or challenging yourself to do things in particularly difficult or explosive ways. This has likely extended the game's initial lifespan on Twitch, because, while the story does eventually end, there's so many ways to keep yourself and your audience entertained beyond that story that its value can extend beyond it.
Still, attention for a single player game like this is always limited, so we're seeing the expected dip. It will likely continue moving forward, until it reaches a much lower baseline.
5. Apex Legends
Apex Legends did not have a bad week. Besides Fortnite, it was the most watched game on the platform in that time, accruing a mindblowing 24,379,413 total hours viewed. This game is a phenomenon, and it's not going anywhere.
And yet, last week it saw the largest total drop off in both viewership and total channels, losing 18% of its audience and 13% of its streamer-base. Now, when you're achieving the kind of ridiculous success that Apex has, you can experience falling numbers like this without it really impacting your position on Twitch as a whole. Again, it was still the second biggest game on the platform. But, given the month of dominance the game has experience, it's notable that, for the first time, its experienced a bit of retraction and given up ground to Fortnite. Both games will be around for a long, long time, but now that we're beyond the former's first month, the massive hype, the paid influencer campaigns, the huge marketing push, it will be interesting to see how the title matures and eases in to a more stable, permanent position. Will it remain second place into perpetuity, or will it be neck and neck with Fortnite for the forseeable future? We're not sure, but we're very excited to find out.
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