Riot Games’ Valorant dominated Twitch in April thanks to a shrewd strategy that inflated viewer numbers far beyond organic levels.
Last month, Riot Games launched the closed beta for its latest free-to-play tactical shooter, Valorant.
The game quickly shot up to become one of the most-watched titles on the Amazon-owned Twitch streaming platform. Millions bustled for a chance to win a coveted drop.
These drops, dished out randomly to viewers of streamers playing Valorant, granted access to the exclusive closed beta.
At its peak, viewership tallied up to a staggering 7 million people. The demand was so high that opportunistic viewers took to farming drops to resell them at exorbitant prices on eBay.
New data published by streaming software company StreamElements and analytics firm Arsenal.gg highlights just how much Valorant dominated Twitch last month.
In April alone, Valorant generated over 334 million hours watched on Twitch, out of a total of close to 1.65 billion total hours watched across the whole platform. That’s over a fifth of all viewership for the month.
Valorant’s explosive growth also matched a general uptick in Twitch’s fortunes aided by people turning to live-streamed content for entertainment during coronavirus lockdown.
A jaw-dropping 101% more hours were logged last month compared to the same period the previous year – when Twitch recorded 750 billion hours watched.
By comparison, YouTube Gaming came in a distant second with 461 million, while Microsoft’s Mixer platform struggled to hit even 40 million hours watched for the month of April 2020.
On Twitch, Valorant easily pushed out perennial chart-topping games, including Riot Games’ own League of Legends, along with Epic Games flagship title Fortnite. These accrued 128 million and 87 million hours watched, respectively.
The shooter even surpassed Twitch mainstays such as the Just Chatting section and its 134 million hours watched.
While these figures are undoubtedly impressive, it’s best not to take them at face value.
They are inflated, the fruit of Riot Games’ shrewd closed beta drop system. A synthetic manipulation of the platform to trigger an initial surge of interest that has naturally died down as more players have gained access to Valorant servers.
It isn’t unreasonable to say that without the lure of drops, viewers would not have flocked to Valorant streams with the same enthusiasm as we saw last month.
Indeed, the proof is in the recent downward trend for Valorant streams. A quick look at Twitch reveals that Riot’s game currently struggles to draw in a viewership even remotely on par to the heights of last month. As of writing, Valorant has a comparatively underwhelming 200,000 concurrent viewers.
It’s not all bad news, though. Valorant is still among the most-watched categories, rubbing shoulders with Fortnite, League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, and the increasingly popular Just Chatting.