Riot’s New Game Valorant Has 1.6 Million Viewers On Twitch Right Now

Riot’s New Game Valorant Has 1.6 Million Viewers On Twitch Right Now
Image: Riot Games

Valorant, a game that’s not out yet and that most people can’t play, currently has 1.6 million concurrent viewers on Twitch, putting it within spitting distance of the all-time record.

The new game from League of Legends (and only League of Legends, until now) developer Riot Games mashes up Counter-Strike-style tactical shooting with hero powers that give off a whiff of Overwatch. Today, the game enters its much-hyped closed beta, opening the floodgates by just a hair, but still enough that everybody and their entire familial lineage is trying to squeeze through.

The current record holder for most concurrent views on Twitch is Fortnite, with 1.7 million. This occurred during its Chapter Two-heralding black hole event, in which the battle royale kingpin’s entire map was swallowed by a black hole. It was, as far as massively popular multiplayer games go, an unprecedented moment. Developer Epic decided to bulldoze everything it had built in a grand, gleefully destructive spectacle. People gathered to watch because they wanted to know what was coming next. It may have ultimately been a disguise for an update, but it was a clever one.

Valorant’s Twitch success is a bit more precedented. Last week, the game amassed more than one million concurrent viewers on Twitch with a big gameplay reveal that Riot coordinated with every popular streamer under the sun: TimTheTatman, xQc, Summit1g, DrLupo, Myth, Pokimane—the list goes on. These streamers were offering drops, aka beta keys, to lucky viewers. Streamers were, as is industry standard, likely paid to promote the game. Riot was canny in how it allowed streamers to roll out content last week, too, keeping certain footage locked until later in the day and having streamers conduct interviews with Riot staff until late in the evening. As a result, Valorant had a vice grip on Twitch all day long.

Today, Riot and all the same streamers are once again handing out keys, only this time, the game is actually playable now that the beta has launched. It makes sense, then, that people are arriving in rabid droves. Effectively, though, Riot has gamed the system, making it look like Valorant is the next big Twitch sensation—the game everybody’s crowding around their computer screens to watch—when in fact it’s the game for which everybody wants beta keys. It remains to be seen if a more rigidly structured game like Valorant can usurp the likes of Fortnite or even Riot’s own League of Legends on Twitch, though Counter-Strike’s perennial place near the top bodes well for its chances. Right now, for example, Counter-Strike has 218,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch, though that’s in part due to the fact that it’s the only major game whose esports scene continues to broadcast from studios during the pandemic. On Steam, meanwhile, the game has spent 2020 repeatedly breaking its own records, most recently peaking at an all-time high of 1,228,875 concurrent players over the weekend.

Valorant also has powerful industry entities on its side. Riot is one of the biggest companies out there, but popular streamers and the financially unstable esports industry eternally clamor for fresh meat, and those two sides of the game-o-sphere are also doing their best to will Valorant into being the next game to spark off a Fortnite-like boom. It is, after all, a lucrative prospect for all involved. In the months since Valorant was announced under its codename, Project A, I’ve seen multiple people with some variation on “Valorant/Project A pro” or “caster” in their social media bios. Some of these people still cannot play the game.

Valorant is big now, and as a result of all this hyper-calculated hype, many people are legitimately excited about it. It might get bigger in the coming weeks, months, and years, or it might wind up a partially-fabricated flash in the pan. So far, Riot has played the streaming ecosystem like a fiddle, reading from a music sheet employed by many big companies before it. Now, though, it’s the game’s turn to perform.

Comments

  • There are definitely people excited about the game itself, but likewise this is definitely a huge marketing effort.
    People will go on and on about how it’s all fake: “paid streamers! bots! careful timing!”.
    And to that I say: “… Yes, and?”

    Do the people in those McDonalds commercials REALLY like the BigMac so much? No, they don’t – it’s called marketing, investing money into exposure so that you may earn money.

    There are millions upon millions of people that are neutral or haven’t even heard of Valorant – and the entire point of this marketing campaign, just like the marketing campaign of [insert YOUR favorite company], is to to get Valorant in front of their eyes.

    I’m sure people in this comment section will be far too focused on beating the dead horse, though: “DAE Rito employes fart on each other??”. Yeah, their internal society is pretty bad, but what does that have to do with how they’re making and promoting a new game exactly?

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