Streaming has grown into its own industry as a branch of gaming that allows fans to interact with each other and showcase their abilities. From a developer perspective, it helps sell more copies and increases popularity. And generally speaking, the most-watched titles on Twitch mirror the most popular games.
Game popularity varies throughout the year. While Fortnite remains securely in the No. 2 spot for a yearly average, it was briefly dethroned earlier this year by Apex Legends. Since its initial release, however, Apex has drastically dropped in watched hours.
Statistics website Sullygnome looks at Twitch’s stats and averages them for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly trends. Since Sullygnome examines all of the categories, not just limited to gaming, we removed the Just Chatting option from our list. Streamers may change topics in the middle of a stream, which isn’t always reflected in Twitch’s algorithm.
Here are the top Twitch games, not categories, of 2019.
Hearthstone sits at No. 10 for 2019. Blizzard’s competitive card game was involved in a controversial situation when Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai said the slogan of the Hong Kong protest movement on stream during a post-game interview in October. Hearthstone streams were filled with counter-protests from viewers. Blizzard reduced Blitzchung’s penalty, which appeased some but not all fans.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was one of the first battle royale games to surface. The game fell in popularity, however, when rivals with flashier graphics and more polished gameplay starting competing against it. But thanks to the release of a zombies mode, the game drew more viewers as streamers and YouTubers tested it out.
Blizzard’s hybrid MOBA and FPS game remains entertaining and unique even in a saturated market. Balance changes have become a meme in the Overwatch community, however, driving former players to watch instead of joining in themselves.
The competitive environment is enjoyable, too. With the addition of the Overwatch League, the game’s category on Twitch gains more viewers during the season while pros compete for pride, glory, and a luxurious prize pool.
7) Apex Legends
Apex got off to an amazing start. Released earlier this year, it overthrew the king of Twitch on day one.
Apex is another unique take on a battle royale game. With good mobility, better team communication, and creative characters, Apex surged to popularity so fast that it overtook Fortnite in viewership. There were rumors of Epic Games promising additional bonuses and content to streamers who played Fortnite again. But since Apex sits at No. 7, Epic apparently didn’t have to worry for long.
6) World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is one of Blizzard’s oldest titles. The MMORPG’s environment and character options make it flexible and enjoyable over many replays without the threat of feeling repetitive. Earlier in the year, Blizzard released World of Warcraft Classic. The nostalgic gameplay and graphics brought returning players to the scene.
We’re finally moving away from Blizzard’s content now. Another long-running franchise, CS:GO has a loyal fanbase. With quality gameplay and consistent matchmaking, it’s easy to see why the game has such a long life.
4) Dota 2
This is the first true multiplayer online battle arena on the list. Dota 2 is a MOBA game developed by Valve. It boasts huge numbers in both viewers and players. MOBA games’ characters stand out in comparison to other genres. Colorful characters with creative backgrounds and unique abilities are the backbone to the game.
3) Grand Theft Auto V
The real winner of the third spot was Twitch’s “Just Chatting” category, but that’s not a game. Instead, Grand Theft Auto V takes the third spot on this list. Grand Theft Auto V is an open-world sandbox. Players spawn in and have an option for missions, but if they feel like it, they can just work on improving their character, obtaining more vehicles, or just causing general chaos.
2) League of Legends
League of Legends is Twitch’s runner-up in 2019. Riot Games’ MOBA lands in second for the same reason Dota 2 isn’t far behind: beautiful and creative characters. While the content is enjoyable, the champions, such as the famous fox-tailed Ahri, are one of the real reasons for playing.
Fortnite is the king of Twitch this year. While it was momentarily usurped by Apex in April, its dip in popularity was short-lived. Fortnite maintains a strong streaming audience. Immensely popular in both playtime and viewership, Fortnite excels where PUBG failed: the polish. Quality of gameplay aside, Fortnite is polished with colorful characters, better customizable options, and unique mechanics not offered in other battle royale games. The building gimmick may take some practice, but the element of strategy it adds is a valuable component.
Only one of these games was released in 2019 and broke its way into the top 10. Other titles on this list have maintained consistent viewership over the years. But with 2019 coming to a close, a new game may arrive in 2020 that could challenge Fortnite for Twitch’s throne.