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Activision recently held an open beta for its new upcoming Call of Duty title that is released annually as a way to generate hype and advertise the game before it comes out Oct. 25.
During two separate five day periods the past two weeks, early access to the game gave Twitch streamers an opportunity to give viewers a sneak peek of what the game will look like, and the resulting viewership for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare added up to 9.39M hours watched.
As one might expect, the top streamers for the CoD beta were a slew of usual suspects. Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek led all influencers averaging 36K concurrent viewers (CCV) totaling 1.41M hours watched. Herschel “Dr DisRespect” Beahm was the second most-watched influencer with 523K hours watched and an average of 24K CCV.
While more than 1M hours watched per day might seem like an impressive effort to reach potential customers, viewership for this year’s beta paled in comparison to that of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 last year. Over an eight-day period, the beta for last year’s CoD generated 14.5M hours watched, and during the four day period when PC players were allowed access to the CoD beta it had 9.2M hours watched, nearly 50% higher than this year.
It is worth noting that there were a few key changes in beta access from 2018 to 2019. Last year, the beta was only open to PlayStation 4 players from Sept. 10-13 which was limiting to streamers because most influencers veer toward streaming games using a mouse and keyboard. From Sept. 14-17, PC and Xbox players were given access to the beta.
This year PlayStation 4 players were given an exclusive four day period from Sept. 12-16, in which the title had just 2.97M hours watched. The following weekend’s five-day beta period, which included PC and Xbox, generated 6.42M hours watched.
One explanation for the year-over-year decline in viewership for Call of Duty’s beta could be the highly-anticipated “Blackout” game mode which served as CoD’s take on the battle royale genre that was immensely popular in 2018.
Following the boom of games like PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS and eventually Fortnite, numerous developers scrambled last year to bring to the market a version of the battle royale genre that had their unique spin on it.
With Activision is one of the premier, established developers in the video game market, its decision to dive into the battle royale genre with a Call of Duty mode drew the attention of the industry, and many people were left wondering if CoD had the potential to become the “next big thing” in the same way that Fortnite succeeded PUBG in popularity earlier in the year.
For that reason, when the game was made available for broadcast personalities to test live on stream, viewership was significantly higher than it might otherwise be. While Grzesiek and Behm, who led all streamers this year, were the top streamers for the CoD beta in 2018, their viewership was much higher last year.
Grzesiek, who played this year’s beta about the same number of hours as he did last year, produced nearly 2M hours watched with an average of 48.6K CCV. Beahm pulled 1.5M hours watched with an average of 37.8K CCV.
Meanwhile, other influencers known for playing predominantly Fortnite, like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, took a break from Epic Games’ cartoonish battle royale to try the CoD beta in 2018. Blevins aired the beta for 20 hours with 511K hour watched and Dunlop had 438K hours watched over 60 hours of airtime.
It’s unfair to compare the hype and viewership surrounding last year’s CoD beta on Twitch to this year’s while attempting to determine the potential that the new edition of CoD has. The attention that was being paid to battle royale titles at the time led to CoD attracting large amounts of viewership around its release, but ultimately the game’s battle royale mode failed to keep the fleeting attention of influencers who eventually went back to playing other games like Fortnite.
However, as the life of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 wore on, the Call of Duty World League served as a regular boost in viewership for the title whenever league play was covered on Twitch. Following format changes that were announced earlier this year to the CWL, which include a franchise system, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare could have added potential on Twitch due largely in part to the growth of CoD as viewership esport in recent years.
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