With all the fervor surrounding the closed beta of Riot Games’ new shooter VALORANT, the publisher had recently decided to make its viewer reward (or “drops”) granting access to the beta available to any streamer playing the game. The result was a dramatic increase in the number of streamers broadcasting VALORANT content, each fighting for their share of the game’s extremely high viewership figures.
These numbers would only be available until either the closed beta period ended, or demand for access slowed down, and so some streamers went to great lengths to seize the largest piece of that pie they could.
Twitch’s Top Channel – Anomaly
With a third week in first place, Ludwig “Anomaly” Lagerstedt had established his channel as the number one place to mine watch hours in the hopes of receiving beta access. His methods for reaching this position, however, caused some frustration amongst other top streamers. Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar was particularly vocal in voicing his displeasure at Twitch’s rewarding of a channel that remained live 24/7 largely through the airing of recorded replays.
Lagerstedt himself was not live and entertaining an audience 24 hours a day, he had instead set up a channel that viewers could simply leave on nonstop in order to increase their odds of securing a drop. While Lagerstedt was the most prominent example, many other channels soon adopted a similar practice.
This led Twitch to change its policy early last week, publicly announcing that using recorded content to influence viewership during a drop program would be considered cheating. This policy change had an immediate and substantial impact on viewership for Lagerstedt, who dropped to 7.77M hours watched, down from almost 17M the previous week.
While Lagerstedt no doubt gained many new followers during his meteoric rise to the top, much of that unprecedented success was strictly related to drop demand. His numbers will likely continue to fall in the coming weeks.
Twitch’s Top Content – VALORANT
Whether it’s exploited viewer rewards, high profile player signings, or invitational esports tournaments, VALORANT has remained the biggest talking point in esports since the launch of its closed beta. Extreme demand for access to that beta led to unprecedented watch hours for the game, which continued this week. However, that number has fallen steadily as the fervor dies down and the 24/7 streams are removed from the equation. This week, VALORANT lost another 20M hours watched, falling to 46.01M (still well above any other game’s single-week record).
The last few weeks have shown just how much Twitch’s viewership numbers can be inflated by viewer incentives, and this must be factored into evaluating the long term potential of any game. While VALORANT has many qualities that give it the potential to become the next Counter-Strike, it will likely never reach these high figures again.
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