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After losing half of its viewers on Twitch since launch, can Overwatch make it as a top tier esport?

Blizzard's New Los Angeles Esports Arena and Halloween Event Having Little Impact on Viewer Counts

October 20, 2017 by

With Blizzard just opening their own esports arena in Los Angeles earlier this month, the behemoth developer/publisher is making a big push to expand their presence in the competitive gaming scene. Being Blizzard’s newest release and a team-based shooter, you’d think that Overwatch would be at the top of Blizzard’s esports roster, but after losing half of its viewer base on Twitch, that’s not the case.

Back when Overwatch launched in May 2016, interest peaked at 283k viewers on Twitch. Over the course of its first month, the hero shooter held an average of 42k viewers per hour and went on to be the most watched new game on Twitch in 2016. Since then, the viewer counts have dropped by over half, now down to an average of 21k viewers per hour. And so far, the highest peak in 2017 has been 113k viewers back in April during the game’s Insurrection PvE event.

Overwatch’s Average Viewers per Hour on Twitch via GitHyp

Despite Blizzard continuing to report increases in the player base, there have been a few factors contributing to Overwatch’s loss of viewers. Many top Twitch streamers have become frustrated with the game’s new meta that forces repetitive team compositions. Some streamers have even moved on to other games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — which breaks well over 100k viewers each day on Twitch.

Another huge factor is Overwatch’s fast-paced first-person format. Twitch’s most popular esports games like League of Legends and Dota 2 are much easier to follow with a top-down perspective. But with some more tweaks to the spectator mode, there could still be hope for Overwatch — especially considering that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive still holds the all-time peak viewer record on Twitch with 1.1 million concurrent viewers and continues to be one of the most popular games on Twitch.

There also wasn’t much hype surrounding the Halloween 2017 event or the opening of Blizzard’s new Los Angeles arena. Both Junkenstein’s Revenge and the change of venue for the finals of the Overwatch Contenders season didn’t have an impact on viewer counts. Still, with Hearthstone being the No. 3 most watched game on Twitch month-after-month, Blizzard bringing all of their esports events under one roof and putting more emphasis on tournaments could be what Overwatch needs to stay relevant in the esports scene.