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 multiple data points to more holistically represent trends on Twitch as opposed to raw viewership numbers, so the biggest titles like Apex Legends and Fortnite won't be listed.
Top 5 Rising
1. Civilization VI (+3377% Viewership, 2.04x Unique Channels)
Turn based strategy gaming has a long and storied history in the world of content creation. The digestible speed and perspective of gameplay makes the game itself very easy to understand and watch, while the creator has to be so cerebral and thoughtful in how they approach each decision that it gives them tons of opportunity to engage with their audience, to talk things through, to show off their personality and get the viewers involved. Sid Meier’s Civilization series has long been at the forefront of the genre, particularly on Twitch, due to the reasons listed above and the game’s unique sense of humor and style.
The release of the latest expansion for Civilization VI, Gathering Storm, has proven to be a huge boon for the game’s Twitch viewership. The recent roll out added a plethora of natural disasters and environmental hazards to the game, and the result is more unpredictable, surprising play sessions where creators are put into precarious situations and have to think their way out. That’s the perfect thing to add to a game like this for viewership: a sense of danger, discovery, and disaster.
The audience has clearly agreed, as it’s reached the top spot of this week’s rankings. That being said, it’s clear that the majority of these gains were from the initial day of release, and it will be interesting to watch how it sustains over the coming days. This week was a clear success, but time will tell as to how long it can last.
2. Return of the Obra Dinn (+4144%, 1.74x)
It was a very strange week for the uniquely styled mystery experience Return of the Obra Dinn. Released this past October, the title isn’t what one would normally consider to be perfect for streaming. The experience of solving a mystery with your audience can be a lot of fun, and a great way to get your viewers involved, but the gameplay itself isn’t the most visually stimulating experience for a Twitch audience. This is a meticulous, slowly paced game, one that prioritizes mood over action, but without that possibility of jump scares or over reactions that tend to make these titles popular for viewers.
It’s interesting, then, that the title managed to have such a successful week nearly five months after its release. More interesting is that it seems to be entirely due to a small number of Korean creators.
This is what a new localization can do for your game. Korean players have been asking for a Korean language option since the game’s release, and it appears that, in the past week or so, they finally got their wish. This alone, allowing them to step into an entirely new region, helped them climb back up in the charts, and perhaps helped to introduce their title to an entirely new population of potential players. We’ll be keeping an eye on this title to see how well this success can sustain itself, and whether future localizations can provide similar boosts.
3. Dance of Fire and Ice (+833%, 4.75x)
Here’s an interesting little surprise. A Dance of Fire and Ice is a one-button rhythm game that was released on January 24. Inexpensive and simple, it’s a great example of the sort of game you pick up for a stream or two, enjoy its music and subtly nuanced gameplay as you get better at it, and then move on. For the first week or so, this is exactly what we saw, with an average of one channel streaming and a peak of only three. Then, on the ninth of February, that number jumped to eight, and it, along with viewership, has been climbing ever since.
Attribution for this newfound success is difficult to pin down. As above with Obra Dinn, the streamers who have taken up the title are predominantly Korean, but the game has featured localization support since release, so expansion to a new region doesn’t account for the increase in play and viewership. Instead, perhaps, it was the above tweet from Akfamilyhome, popular Chinese YouTuber, that raised awareness to the point of increasing its viewership on Twitch. This is the best explanation I’ve found, but even then, you didn’t see improvement on Twitch for another 4 days, so it’s difficult to say. We’ll be paying attention to what happens next for this little title, and whether it can sustain a community moving forward once this surge dies down.
4. Metro Redux (+1235%, 1.46x)
Metro Exodus is finally being released today, and as creators with early access to the title have been showing it off on Twitch, everyone else who wants to get back into Metro and hype up their audience for the impending release used their time to return to the (updated) original. This is very common; when a creator knows their audience is hungry for a particular forthcoming title, and it’s an entry in a pre-existing series, replaying the previous games is a powerful way to whet your viewers’ appetites. It’s a way of reinvigorating the series’s following, of getting the hype machine cooking before the actual title arrives, so when you finally do get your hands on it, everyone is excited and ready to go.
This is particularly true of a series like Metro because, in spite of its wide spread critical acclaim, its combination of tension and survival elements tend to make it a more niche title, something that a lot of gamers are more excited to watch than to play. When a title rides that line between suspense and horror, it tends to appeal to a particular kind of gamer and viewer, people who have turned that particular love into a strong community. Metro, as a series, has die hard fans and an active online presence. That makes building to the release with streams of the previous games incredibly effective. These numbers will, no doubt, drop off next week as Exodus rises up the charts, but its success will be directly impacted by the presence of these streams. We’ll keep that in mind as we look into the new title’s launch next week.
5. The Escapists 2 (+4588%, 1.15X)
This is simply an interesting demonstration that single or small groups of influencers can have a wildly disproportionate impact on a title’s viewership. The Escapists 2 came out in 2017, and its last major expansion was released in December of last year. In general, the game has not been popular on Twitch in recent memory. And yet, looking at the graph above, we can see that twice, in the past week, its audience has exploded, then immediately returned to baseline. What’s happening?
The first bump is from a single streamer named Cellbit. His stream was only an hour long, but drew more viewers alone than the entirety of the game’s audience over the previous month, and beyond. Then, four days later, three streamers, MrBboy45, Domingo, and Jirayalecochon, streamed the game as well for a collective six hours between them. These two days alone were enough to squeeze this game in as the last of our five biggest climbers on this week's Twitch charts. A simple lesson to take in? Just one right creator can do more for your game than hundreds of poor fits. Know your audience, and know who they love.
Top 5 New Titles
1. Project Winter (23.6 Million Minutes, 198 Channels)
Released into early access on February 7, this eight-player co-op competitive back-stabbing survival simulator has immediately carved out a solid foothold on Twitch, pulling in 23.6 million minutes watched across nearly 200 channels. Players are clearly enamored with its unique gameplay structure and social elements, so it will be interesting to see if players continue to enjoy it as it matures through early access and builds on this initial foundation.
Early access games are often some of the best performing titles on Twitch, but those that lack consistent updates often struggle to maintain their player-base, and for a multiplayer game, nobody playing means the party’s over. This is absolutely one to watch moving forward, and we’ll be keeping an eye on whether it can continue the success it achieved in its first week.
2. Jump Force (34.28M, 4572)
Well, this game was always going to be a hit with its audience. The overlap between gaming culture and manga/anime fandom is extensive, so when the massive shonen crossover was announced, it immediately became clear that its audience would be anxiously awaiting its arrival.
And now here we are. On its first day of release, Jump Force was streaming to nearly 40,000 viewers, and while it hasn’t reached that number since, it’s overall trend is still pointing up. We’ve yet to even reach its first weekend, which should really prove whether this hype is real. It will take a lot to branch out beyond anime fans and become a fixture in the fighting game space, but it’s off to a decent start.
3. Far Cry New Dawn (30.67M, 226)
No real mystery here. The latest and greatest in the Far Cry series officially releases tomorrow, but already those with early access have amassed a sizable following on Twitch. The real question here is why are viewers watching? Are they trying to get excited for their own playthrough, or are they merely there to get an early look at a game nobody else can play? Will these early viewership numbers translate to a healthy audience post-launch, and would that lead to healthier sales? It’s something we’ll be keeping an eye on in the weeks ahead, as the official launch date passes and everyone can get their hands on the first post-apocalyptic entry in the Far Cry series.
4. Spellbreak (13.99M, 2771)
Here we have another game that has yet to see an official release, with the “battle royale RPG featuring epic magic combat” currently running a closed alpha. Because it’s by application only, the team behind Spellbreak have been able to pick and choose who would get access to their title, including which streamers, and as a result they’ve been able to get the game featured on some reasonably sized channels. Streamers sodapoppin, LIRIK, and alanzoka all showed the game off for audiences in excess of 18,000 viewers over the past three days, and the result has been over 236,000 hours of gameplay watched over that brief period of time.
Now, battle royales compete in an over-saturated, crowded space, and with this only being an alpha, it’s likely that we’ll have a long build up of further alphas and betas as the team refines the game and moves closer to an actual release. Whether or not they’ll be able to take this early success and built upon it, thus, remains mostly in the air. We’ll have to wait and see.
5. Tetris 99 (12.58M, 1306)
Tetris is back! One of the less talked about stories of the week was the release of this new “battle royale” version of one of the all time classic games. As explained by Sam Machkovech at Ars Technica:
“Every game of Tetris 99 begins with an apparent 99-player requirement…From that point, the goal is simple: outlast 98 other players in what's essentially a solo game of vanilla Tetris... with the addition of the series' "garbage" mechanic scaled up to 99 people. When you clear more than two lines at once, that will send incomplete, "garbage" lines to the bottom of another online player's grid, thus pushing their stack upward, and they can do the same to you.”
All of a sudden, Tetris is an intense, stream-worthy title, and people are playing the heck out of it. This feels like the sort of game that’s so easy to pick up and get through a quick session that it’ll make its way into the rotation of “variety streamers” everywhere. Its reach is limited, at this point, by the fact that it’s exclusive to the Switch platform, so that could keep it from reaching its full stream potential, but regardless, it’s been really exciting just seeing an entire new generation of gamers get excited to play Tetris. Nostalgia for the win.God Eater III (11.09M, 2183)
Top 5 Falling
1. Subnatuica: Below Zero (-92% Viewership, -%40 Unique Channels)
The long awaited sequel to underwater survival simulator Subnautica was officially released on January 30 of this year, and immediately reached over 70,000 viewers. Unfortunately, its audience has dropped precipitously since, and only 8% of its viewership remains in its second week on the platform.
Now, like its predecessor, this title has been released in early access, which means that there’s a lot of room to grow, and many opportunities to release updates and enhancements moving forward. Each new roll-out is an opportunity to bring players back in and get more eyeballs on Twitch, so we’ll have to pay attention to their long-term plans regarding content and how it augments their Twitch presence. Still, this massive drop-off does not bode well for the title’s long-term staying power. It’s a bit odd, as the game itself is very well reviewed, but it might simply not be different enough from its predecessor to develop a similar following. Time will tell.
2. The Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare (-92%, -69%)
This one is more of a success story than it might seem at first glance. The Mean Greens originally released in 2015, and it’s a rather typical online shooter with a fun art-style. Prior to January 24th of this year, it had only had fleeting moments of success on Twitch, the most pronounced being a two day period last March where it reached audiences just over 4000 before immediately tanking back down to near nothing.
Then two weeks ago, the game went on sale for a dollar.
The week that followed, the title had its three biggest days on Twitch in its history, and its ranking on the platform, usually in the quadruple digits, reached as high as eighteen. All of this on the back of a temporary price reduction that got people to grab it on a whim.
But, it appears the initial novelty has worn off, and the game is once again riding low on the Twitch charts, losing most of its viewership. Still, this was a massive success, and a representation of the surprise impact something as trivial as a small sale can have on a game’s Twitch presence.
3. Praey for the Gods (-87%, -50%)
This long gestating action RPG adventure was finally launched into Early Access on January 31, a Thursday, and enjoyed a strong weekend of viewership on Twitch. Particularly with something strictly single player, audiences are often excited to get their first glimpse of a game, and flock to their favorite creators to see actual gameplay for the first time.
At the conclusion of the weekend, however, viewership began to decline, and by that Thursday it was near zero. No doubt the team behind the game was hoping that it would see its viewership increase again with its second weekend, but no such increase occurred, and instead it languishes near the bottom of the pile. Again, this is an early access title, so how it's supported long term will largely inform whether it can regain its footing. At this point, the developers admit on their steam page, the game lacks a great deal of content and even a “proper ending,” so there’s absolutely more development to be done before this game can be written off. What exists now, however, seems to lack the staying power they’d have hoped for.
4. Heat (-88%, -54%)
A survival simulator that seems a lot like RUST, Heat launched into early access on January 30th and saw its immediate audience of 25,000 viewers dwindle to less than 700 by the following Monday. Honestly, there’s not a lot on display, at this point, that sets this game apart from others in the genre, and, while it’s in a very early state, players have frequently complained about the game being too unstable to play properly. Initial interest for this title fell off really fast, so they need to be building a strong release plan for updates and enhancements to support it moving forward. If they can’t manage to recapture the limited excitement they achieved at launch, this game will have a very short lifespan.
5. Pikuniku (-87%, -40%)
This game is weird. I don’t even know if that’s relevant to the discussion, but I feel compelled to say it anyway. Absurdity and delight seem to be at the center of Pikuniku, and indie adventure game featuring claymation, ghosts, deep state conspiracies, and tons of other stuff too strange to properly describe. The point is that this title’s appeal lies in its lunacy and color, and when it launched on January 24, its mild initial viewership quickly ballooned to over 11,000 by its first Sunday. Since then, its performance had been a bit up and down, but it still pulled in impressive numbers on multiple occasions.
All of that seems to have come to a conclusion, though, as the majority of players interested in the title have made their way through to the end. This is always the way things go for single player titles, particularly smaller indies like Pikuniku. The amount it achieved in its first week was impressive, and likely enough to call the game a success, but finite experiences always have a finite life on content platforms. It will be interesting to see if any sort of price change or sale might bring the game back up at some future date, but, for now, its life on Twitch appears to be at an end.