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Activision’s latest Call of Duty title hasn’t been able to match the Twitch viewership of last year’s release five days following its regular fall release, but a number of factors suggest that the game could be successful in ways that Black Ops 4 was not.
Since being released on Oct. 25, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has generated 12.36M hours watched in its first five days on Twitch, a far cry from the 20.84M hours watched Black Ops 4 generated during its first five days on the platform.
The viewership that Black Ops 4 was able to generate was short-lived, though. Touting a fresh take on the battle royale genre as one of its game modes, Black Ops 4 attracted attention from high-profile influencers and fans who may have otherwise given it significantly less of their time.
In the first week of Black Ops 4 being on Twitch, influencers known for playing Fortnite, like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Tim “TimTheTatman” Betar, provided the title a significant boost to viewership averaging 62K and 25K concurrent viewers, respectively.
Additionally, the game was led on Twitch by Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek who recently announced that he was leaving the platform in favor of streaming on Mixer. Grzesiek had 4.58M hours watched in the first seven days following Black Ops 4’s launch, averaging 56K CCV over 80 hours of airtime. Grzesiek’s first stream on Mixer was for the launch of Modern Warfare.
While a few other influencers like Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar and Herschel “Dr DisRespect” Beahm have seen a boost to their average CCV so far playing Modern Warfare on Twitch in Grzesiek’s absence, their gains don’t match what the platform has lost from his exit.
Despite missing Grzesiek on Twitch and lacking a battle royale mode, Activision released a statement on Wednesday announcing that Call of Duty’s launch this year set a new record for digital pre-orders and highest three-day digital sales on PlayStation 4, and the game also had a franchise-best opening weekend for PC users as well.
Even though viewership for CoD is down for its launch, the statistics don’t show the whole picture. In 2018, viewership was driven by hype for CoD’s new battle royale mode that was perceived as having the potential to compete with Fortnite and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS as the leader in the battle royale market.
However, as influencers and gamers were exposed to the gameplay of CoD’s battle royale mode, and new content continued to roll in for other games, namely Fortnite, viewership on Twitch took a sharp turn downward.
While viewership for CoD isn’t nearly as impressive early on as it was last year, the health of the game is anything but in jeopardy. Following the decline of CoD’s battle royale last year, the game maintained little traction on Twitch outside of a few esports events tied to the CoD World League.
With the CWL’s transition to a geolocated, franchised league, akin to what Activision Blizzard has done with the Overwatch League, CoD presents an opportunity for growth regardless of what influencer-based viewership is like for Modern Warfare.
By dedicating resources to the CWL, Activision is giving CoD an opportunity to grow more as an esports-reliant game in the marketplace. As opposed to competing with Fortnite, Activision has turned its attention instead to making CoD one of the more esports-centric titles, comparable to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, or even Rainbow Six Siege.
By turning this 180, the developer is making the importance of launch-time viewership slightly less important, though it certainly doesn’t hurt that the game is able to produce top 10 quality viewership in the first week after its release.
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