VALORANT had the strongest first month that any game has ever had on Twitch in terms of viewership—and it wasn’t even remotely close.
A combination of the game’s hype, Twitch drops, and the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept people at home made it so that Riot’s new tactical shooter racked up insanely high hours watched totals. VALORANT had more than 344 million hours watched on Twitch in April despite not even being streamable until about a week into the month.
The early numbers were staggering and broke just about every viewership record a game could imagine having on Twitch. Dividends even extended to a few streaming partners that the game had, like Summit1g and TimTheTatman, who had exclusive access to Twitch drops early in the closed beta’s time on the platform.
But despite posting such insanely strong statistics, the drop off that the game has experienced can’t be ignored. While the first days and weeks of VALORANT’s life on Twitch were extraordinary, the game’s decline toward the end of the month brings forth questions about the sort of longevity that the game can have.
Additionally, the presence of 24/7 streamers who have used VOD streaming to skew viewership statistics as a means to help people farm beta access makes assessing the true value of the game’s viewership murky.
A quick look at the top streamers for VALORANT in the past 30 days shows some channels that have streamed the game for almost unrealistic amounts of time. With more than 550 hours of airtime, channels like Anomaly and Onscreen have boosted VALORANT in the directory by farming viewers who are looking to get drops from 24/7 streamers.
The impact of these channels was largely seen as a negative by Twitch veterans like Summit1g, TimTheTatman, and Dr Disrespect, who all spoke out about the issue on their channels. But it wasn’t until the end of the month that the platform responded.
On April 28, Twitch announced that VOD streaming is a way to take advantage of in-game promotions and deemed it to be against the platform’s guidelines. People like Anomaly, who previously had a 184-hour and 110-hour stream session between April 16 and 28, were effectively told to stop.
Anomaly has continued to execute a few lengthy streams that have ended up eclipsing 30 hours of airtime by using friends to help co-stream gameplay. It’s not necessarily the same as it was before, but the channel’s airtime of 127 hours in the past seven days doesn’t appear to be sustainable in the long term.
More established Twitch veterans, like TimTheTatman and Summit1g, have also started veering away from the game, which might be a sign that VALORANT’s success on Twitch could have a limit.
This doesn’t mean that VALORANT can’t remain hugely successful. But if a game wants to have sustained viewership on a platform like Twitch, it needs a combination of established faces and fresh new content creators who are playing the game consistently in a way that won’t result in burnout.
There’s still a plethora of individuals watching streams to get their VALORANT beta access and airtime numbers for many of the most-watched streamers are still sky-high. But in the past two weeks, the game’s total hours watched is down 37 percent from the previous two weeks, according to Twitch statistics website SullyGnome.
The future of VALORANT as a highly-popular game on Twitch is still uncertain. Despite its decline, it remains the most-watched content on the platform by a wide margin. It’s 63 million hours watched in the past week is more than 20 million higher than Just Chatting, which was in second place.
The key to judging VALORANT will manifest itself as we get closer to the game’s official launch once people aren’t watching the game on Twitch simply to farm for access to it and once streamers aren’t finding ways to exploit the system by streaming marathons of content.
From the perspective of a developer like Riot, the first month of VALORANT’s beta on Twitch has been massively positive for generating hype for the game. But as far as its future is concerned, we still don’t know what will come of VALORANT until viewership isn’t so inflated.