There’s no denying the wide appeal of Blizzard’s new shooter Overwatch. It’s only been three weeks since its May 24 launch and already more than 10 million people have played the game. Now, it looks like Overwatch may be conquering the front line of hardcore gaming—PC Bangs in Korea.
Last week, Overwatch helped pull League of Legends under a 30 percent share at PC bangs—Internet cafes where patrons pay hourly to play games—for the first time in about four years. Now, by one measure, Overwatch has toppled the titan of PC gaming this week. In another, it’s inched to within 1 percent of League.
Calycae, who works at a Korean gaming company, provided a look at Korean PC cafe statistics on Reddit today:
The graph shows statistics from Korean site Gametrics, which tallies PC bang stats from a large portion of cafes in Korea. Since release, Overwatch has steadily climbed the chart, gaining players as other popular titles, League of Legends and Sudden Attack, decline. As of yesterday, the gap between League and Overwatch was just over 1 percent. Data from another PC bang chain, GettoGold, which runs about 40 percent of Korea net cafes, showed Overwatch on top with 29.21 percent share compared to 28.80 percent for League of Legends.
It’d be a stretch to take those numbers as a sign that League of Legends is dying or Overwatch will topple League as PC gaming’s biggest title. Overwatch is riding the wave of post-release hype, offering gamers something new and exciting that they haven’t yet seen. While PC bangs in have their fingers on the pulse of gamers in Korea, the numbers may not be representative of the nation as a whole and certainly not of the rest of the world.
Yet for years, League of Legends has reigned like a monolithic titan over PC gaming. It’s a game that has seemed secure in its place at the top for years to come. League has seen dips in popularity before in the face of new game releases, after all, and it weathered those storms. But none of them were as fierce as Overwatch, which looks like it could contend for League’s throne—if Blizzard can keep people playing it.
Whether Overwatch’s popularity ends up calming down past the post-release period or it remains at the top, the shift has led to a bit of an existential crisis for many League of Legends fans. Some blame dynamic queue for League’s decline, which is a bit ironic since Overwatch’s queue system is also dynamic. Others say Riot Games has been too lax, failing to give players what they want. Some are just bored of League of Legends after five years playing it.
Players may also get bored of Overwatch, too, in a few days or weeks or months. It has those quick, 10 minute games and a comparatively small hero pool. Who knows? There’s plenty of other metrics you could cherry pick to show that League of Legends is stronger than ever in many markets, and blowing Overwatch out of the water, like Twitch viewership, which has declined for Overwatch after a huge spike at release.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that League of Legends may have a challenger for the most popular game in the PC and esports market—even if it’s not clear how long that challenge will last.