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Games don’t typically find a way to have a second life on Twitch following their release, but the incorporation of role play servers for Grand Theft Auto V with some help from high-profile influencers, made that possible for the action-adventure game this year.
The title doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional model of what a top form of content should be on Twitch. While there are multiplayer aspects to the game, the interactions between those in the game are less about shooting and more about acting out the life of a fictional character.
For that reason, it wasn’t until Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar and other top influencers such as Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris tried out the role-play game on a whitelisted server called “No Pixel” that GTA V was able to get the spotlight it needed in order to flourish as a form of content.
Following the boom of high-profile personality broadcasters streaming GTA role play, some of the game’s more endemic personalities, like “Vader” (real name unknown), were able to leverage GTA’s overall success and turn it into their personal success.
But what made the game so sustainable for months after it saw a spike in viewership due to the influence of Twitch’s most popular broadcasters?
One element of the game’s success as a form of content for broadcasters is perhaps an aspect of role-playing as a long-form vehicle for entertainment. It’s almost like watching your Saturday morning cartoons.
Because broadcasters are playing the role of a person in the game, the made-up character is living a life of its own that can have however many twists and turns that the broadcasters wants.
Characters can be serious and dramatic or silly and zany, and what happens to them can change from day-to-day. The investment that viewers have in a character that they watch can help content creators retain an audience with the question “what hijinx will these characters get themselves into tomorrow?”
Though the top average viewership for GTA V this year so far has come from influencers such as Morris, Lazar, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, Alan “Alanzoka” Ferreira, and Saqib “Lirik” Zahid, the most-watched streamers of the game by hours watched looks much different.
Lazar, who is by far the most popular personality to stream the game for more than 500 hours, sits well ahead of all other broadcasters, but there are a slew of streamers endemic to role-play who have all recorded 7M or more hours watched this year on GTA.
Along with Vader, Kevin “Lord_Kebun” (last name unknown) and “Buddha” (real name unknown), have each seen their streams grow enormously since Lazar helped bring role play broadcasts to a larger audience.
What’s Going Down?
Despite consistently maintaining a spot in the top 10 charts for most-watched Twitch content since March, GTA V has seen a notable decline in viewership lately with the game having multiple weeks with its hours watched total dipping below the 10M mark.
However, that decline in viewership came at almost the exact same time as World of Warcraft Classic’s launch.
While new forms of content on Twitch typically affect other titles that are from the same genre or are produced by the same developer, the re-release of WoW in its original state seems to be correlated to the decline in GTA in some capacity. As WoW saw the highest viewership on Twitch that it has ever seen, GTA viewership was starting to slip.
What does that mean for the future of GTA, though? The title seemed to be one of the most reliable sources of viewership on Twitch for longer than most titles manage to generate worthwhile reach, but four straight weeks of declining viewership isn’t something normal for a form of content that’s seen as a top-watched piece of content on Twitch.
The answer to GTA’s woes could be as simple as having another surge of starpower. While WoW’s new launch correlated with a dip in GTA viewership it would be amiss to say that the release was the primary “cause” for GTA’s decline.
In the past three weeks Lazar, who has been the title’s most-watched streamer this year despite not playing it nearly as much as some of the game’s more endemic personalities, hasn’t played the GTA nearly as much as he was in recent months.
In fact, since Sept. 6, which was the last time Lazar brought more than 200K hours watched to GTA, the game has seen viewership stabilize between 1.1-1.4M hours watched. Though that’s much lower than the viewership the title was generating since March, missing Lazar could be comparable to a game like Fortnite losing Turner “Tfue” Tenney.
Sure, some of Lazar and Tenney’s viewership will go to other people who are playing the title that they stopped streaming, but there will also be many viewers who simply don’t watch that game anymore.
In conclusion, the strength of influential streamers as a way to improve the reach of games on Twitch certainly pays dividends to those intimately involved with the game. Lazar beginning to stream GTA has helped broadcasters like Vader and others see sizeable jumps in viewership, but the consistent involvement of a powerhouse personality like Lazar isn’t something that can be substituted.
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