Alright well, the answer is kind of a no brainer. What happens is that your game will become really, really popular. The bigger question is how LONG will your game remain popular? The consumer side of video games is a rapidly moving and turbulent mass of people just waiting for the next big trend. Most gamers are more than happy to jump ship from a "dying" game as soon as streamers stop playing it as frequently. The days of game loyalty are a vintage thought as the sheer volume and variety of video games continually increase. On top of that, modern games desperately try to imbed themselves into your gaming routine with battle passes, seasonal rewards, and limited time events.

During these frantic scrambles for games to establish themselves in the eyes of the masses, something miraculous occurs. Some big name streamer, lets call them Billy, decides to play a random recommended game via their chat, steam store, or a quirky online ad... And whad'ya know, they like it! All of a sudden, a game with a modest following and 5,000 average concurrent players is thrust into the limelight. Billy is having a genuinely good time playing a new game and living in the moment. Chat sees this merriment and thinks "Wow, this game seems really fun". Twitch regulars see that Billy is playing something other than their main game and thinks "Wow, it's unusual to see Billy playing a new game, I wonder what's going on?". More and more people tune in, increasing the games exposure. But that's not all, these events generally have a trickle down effect. As other streamers see the fun and success Billy is having playing his new game, they hop on the hype train. Now dozens of high profile and mid tier streamers are playing the game, rocketing it to the top of the Twitch charts.

This type of organic occurrence can make or break a game. Game developers can also opt to contract streamers to play their games on or after release with the intention of increasing exposure and popularity. Below we'll take a look at some real world examples of games that have gone through this scenario.


FINAL FANTASY XIV ONLINE

(FFXIV ONLINE official art, copyright SQUARE ENIX)

The most recent example of this hype phenomenon is Asmongold's venture into Eorzea with FINAL FANTASY XIV ONLINE (abbreviated to FFXIV for the rest of this article). It's been 20 days since Asmongold decided to give FFXIV a try, and the following data compares the time period between June 1st-30th and July 1st-22nd.

  • The average viewer count went from 7.1k to 36.6k.
  • Total hours watched went from 4.9 million to 18.3 million.
  • Average Twitch viewer rank went from 53 to 22, peaking as the 2nd most watched game briefly on July 3rd.

Several other high profile and mid tier streamers started playing FFXIV not long after Asmongold's viewership peak of over 210,000. Channels like Rubius, summit1g, fextralife, and moistcr1tikal all joined in on the bandwagon. In fact, FFXIV got so popular after this streamer craze, they briefly ran out of digital keys for the game. Not the worst problem to have for a game with a new expansion coming out this fall.


Among Us

(Among Us official art, copyright Innersloth)

Most people active in the gaming world are at this point keenly aware of Among Us, and have more than likely played it. The "who done it?" game released in 2018 to... minimal acclaim. But that was before a combination of 8 Korea based streamers started to play the game on a regular basis. Before long, sodapoppin and xQc were streaming the game to tens of thousands of concurrent viewers. A snowball pattern can be seen between FFXIV and Among Us here. Once a game starts to gain a little popularity on Twitch, it just keeps growing. The following data compares the time period between April 1st-June 30th 2020 to July 1st-September 30th 2020:

  • Average viewers increased from 256 to 80.6k
  • Average Twitch viewer rank went from 602 to 68 (but averages at 2 after August 15 once things really start to sodapop off).
  • Total hours watched increased from 535.2k to 177.5 million.

The craze eventually came to an end though, as most hype trains do. Around the beginning of 2021 streamers started to drift away. In the last 3 months, Among Us has averaged 11k viewers, totaled 20.9 million hours watched, and an average Twitch rank of 67. But in the end, Innersloth sold hundreds of millions of copies, which is a major win no matter how you look at it.


Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

(Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout official art, copyright Mediatonic)

Another such instance of this frenzy involves the battle royale game show, Fall Guys. The game launched to instant fame in August of 2020 and people couldn't get enough of it. The same catalyst of a few big streamers playing the game caused a cascading effect of other mid tier streamers jumping in on the fun. There was a point in time where it seemed like the entire world was watching TimTheTatman try to get his 1st win (peaking at 342,312 viewers on August 19th). Some Fall Guys stats include:

  • Averaged 102.1k average viewers between August 1st-September 30th 2020.
  • Resulted in 146.4 million hours watched.
  • Averaged as the 2nd most watched game on Twitch for the month of August (peaking as 1st most watched many times).

Much like Among Us and other frenzied Twitch games, the Fall Guys hype eventually died off, only averaging 5.5k viewers this past month. But again, much like Among Us, this decline occurred after selling tens of millions of copies. Among Us and Fall Guys are two good examples of how once the hype dies down, viewers and streamers jump ship to the next big thing. Few games survive this trend.


Ending Thoughts and Conclusion

In conclusion, regardless of how a game manages to catch the eye of Twitch, it generally results in a positive outcome for the game's exposure. Additionally, when considering contracting a streamer, remember that it's not about getting X amount of streamers to play your game, it's about getting the RIGHT streamers to play it first. So that they inspire other streamers to latch onto the momentum. Paying a streamer that doesn't like the game criticize it in front of 20,000 viewers is the last thing a developer wants for their reputation. This is a big reason why many developers come to us here at Gamesight, where we tailor your influencer campaign by finding the best suited streamers for your games' optimal viewer-base.

Many times when a game starts to get a little momentum on Twitch, developers leave the hype to build on it's own, thinking "Oh look, free marketing!". Sometimes this can work out, especially for the bigger hype trains, but as previously stated, the modern gamer is often a fickle being looking to latch onto the next big thing. When the hype starts to die down, it dies down FAST (I'm looking at you, Knockout City). When Twitch momentum starts, especially for smaller games, it's the perfect time for developers to be more aggressive with their marketing. Try to view the Twitch hype as a baseline that your marketing can build upon in the moment. Much like how the official Fall Guys twitter was trolling timthetatman for the entire month of August. They just kept building momentum, and it paid off big time in sales.

Twitch hype is becoming the lifeblood for games marketing. So rather than hoping a big streamer chances upon your game, why not take the initiative and try to formulate the hype avalanche yourself? One of the reasons Apex Legends had such a phenomenal release was because of the sheer amount of formulated streamer hype behind it. Every situation is different when looking at games that go through a Twitch hype phase. So while the phenomenon between hype events is similar, the tactics behind how developers can use the hype to their advantage are equally as different. Improvise, adapt, overcome.

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At Gamesight, we help PC and console marketers implement performance marketing techniques for their games. If you are seeking help setting up and measuring your campaigns, working with influencers, or would like to simply talk with us about this article, please reach out on our website!