How Battlestate made Escape from Tarkov one of Twitch’s top games

"It was just born ready for streaming."

Screengrab via Battlestate Games

Battlestate’s Escape from Tarkov has taken off as one of the top influencer-driven pieces of content on Twitch to start 2020. Although the game was given a boost by its in-game loot drop event with Twitch, their success is about more than just one event. 

Tarkov’s growth on Twitch has been a long time coming. It was born out of Battlestate’s attempts to connect with its player base by fostering relationships with endemic content creators and keeping a close eye on streams as well as social media.

Battlestate COO and game director Nikita Buyanov told Dot Esports that media plays a significant role in the way Battlestate does its business. The developer pays close attention to streamers as well as all social media, ranging from Reddit and Twitter to Facebook and Instagram. 

Streams are particularly useful.

“In our case, [streams are] not only interesting, but also useful from the point of view of development, since the game is in beta—we see bugs, issues, make notes what needs to be improved, corrected,” Buyanov said. “We watch lots of streams, not only big names. User experience is very important—for example, how a professional plays, how his audience reviews the game, and what they would like. It often happens that events in the chat find a quick response in our actions.”

Buyanov said that Battlestate didn’t deliberately make Tarkov with the intention of it being a game for streamers, but having a relationship with people who play the game for an audience is important for the developers. 

“We didn’t create a game specifically to make it more suitable for streaming—it was just born ready for streaming,” he said. “However, we do some auxiliary things for streamers, such as protection from stream sniping. Streamers themselves often help in various issues with balancing, finding bugs, and other suggestions, but we definitely do not rely on the opinion of streamers when developing. The game’s stream ability has always grown organically.”

The New Year’s Twitch drop event obviously boosted viewership for Tarkov on Twitch, but Buyanov was quick to point out that it’s been steadily growing all year as the game, which is still in beta, develops over time.

Streamers like Pestily, Anton, and Veritas have all helped Tarkov grow over the course of the past year, even before the game had a massively popular in-game drop event for viewers on Twitch. Buyanov said that the endemic base of Tarkov streamers maintains a close relationship with the developer in a number of ways. 

“These guys are just our friends first of all, there is no sponsorship in our relationship,” he said. “The dudes play Tarkov because they love the game. These are olds who have been with us for a long time, and started their careers mainly by playing EFT.”

He added that the developer invites its top endemic broadcasters to be guests on podcasts whenever possible and the company tries to stay in communication with them as well. 

“These players have a lot of experience and often offer very interesting ideas to improve the gameplay,” Buyanov said. “We are generally open to ideas, and often we ask the community questions through streamers. Streamers are important to us from the point of view that they represent the interests of their communities.”

Battlestate’s recent event also shows that the developer has a strong relationship with Twitch itself. 

The one-week in-game loot drop event to celebrate the new year a few weeks ago was just a manifestation of the connection that the two companies have. The way that in-game loot works in EFT made the event a perfect fit, too.

“We have always been on good terms with Twitch and have long planned to do something interesting with them,” Buyanov said. “Drops is the most interesting option that fits EFT very well. This was also due to the fact that we wanted to make gifts during the holidays.”

Buyanov said that from a logistical standpoint, both Twitch and Battlestate worked together to improve and refine the loot drop idea as they made it a reality. With more than 30 million hours watched on Twitch in a week, Tarkov is still feeling the residual effects of a successful start to 2020 through its partnership with the streaming platform. 

Battlestate’s plans with Twitch aren’t over, either. The developer is still working with the streaming platform to conduct more events. Buyanov even added that the developer could be looking to have similar events with other streaming platforms as well. 

Correction Jan. 31 9:10am CT: This article previously misattributed the quotes to Battlestate head of global PR Dmitri Ogorodnikov, who provided the answers in an email.