Why Single Player Games Have Such a Short Life on Twitch

Twitch Database-Link-e1521645463907 is typically lead by a combination of esports and influencer-driven player-vs-player games, but for short stints, single player games that are story based can thrive immediately following their release.

In recent weeks, two examples of that stand out. Two weeks ago, the Resident Evil 2 remake stormed onto Twitch registering 13.31M hours watched in its first week, but 8.2M of that came in the first three days of the title being streamed on the platform.

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Since then, the game’s viewership has tapered off significantly coinciding with an equally significant drop in airtime.

Just one week later, Kingdom Hearts 3 experienced a similar post-release swell that was followed even more immediately by a sharp decline. After hitting Twitch with 1.46M hours watched on Jan. 29, the game dropped to 1.1M the next day, and under 1M the following day.

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Now the title’s viewership has waned below 100K hours watched a day. But why are such highly hyped games falling flat so fast?

One strong theory could be that the games’ lives on Twitch are tied directly to their playthrough time. When someone plays a story based game, end-game content is typically limited. While most games have certain achievements and unlockable cutscenes or cosmetics, the interest of viewers on Twitch, as well as streamers themselves, ends when the main storyline does.

This leads to games like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2 being highly entertaining to an audience, but only for a short time. The main campaign of Kingdom Hearts 3 is considered to have around 40 hours of content, with another 40 or so hours of auxiliary content. Resident Evil 2’s remake has an average playthrough time of about 20 hours.

Another important factor to consider is the influencers who are playing the games. Kingdom Hearts had 7.47 hours of airtime from Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris that resulted in 204K hours watched, and Sebastian “Forsen” Fors attracted 335.77K hours watched for his 26.77 hours of airtime. However, the game was largely unplayed by many of Twitch’s top streamers.

Resident Evil 2, on the other hand, was streamed for 12.2 hours by Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek for 411.31K total hours watched. Additionally, a slew of streamers including Morris, Fors, and Saqib “Lirik” Zahid streamed the game for more than 12 hours each, accruing more than 260K hours watched per streamer.

Because the lives of these titles on Twitch are attached to their stream-ability during their initial playthrough, it’s unfair to hold them to the same sort of standard as one might for Fortnite Database-Link-e1521645463907, League of Legends Database-Link-e1521645463907, Dota 2 Database-Link-e1521645463907, or any other player-vs-player title that has replayability.

Instead, analyzing the short-term attention that a game gets upon its release can help us understand how significant the title truly is to the gaming community. Essentially, for these story-based, single-player games, it’s less about how sustained their success is on Twitch and more about the buzz that they generate from their onset. The more viewers the title gets right after it releases, the more hype the game builds resulting in the potential for more copies of the game being purchased.

This contrasts the player-vs-player world where a game like Call of Duty’s Database-Link-e1521645463907 new battle royale game mode can come out in October with a lot of hype and strong early viewership, but fall flat just months later.

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For PvP titles, maintaining stable viewership and creating an esports scene has the potential to generate long-term lucrative opportunities with sponsors and tournament operators—not just selling copies of the game itself.

The replayability and competitive structure of PvP games liken it to traditional sports. This juxtaposes the movie-like nature of single player games with story campaigns. If someone were to invent a new sport or create a new league, sustaining popularity would be key in its success. If it only had hype for a short period of time it would die.

Movies are a completely different animal altogether, though. While a movie might do extremely well at the box office right when it comes out, its sales typically decline quickly because people don’t tend to go see that same movie in the theater multiple times.

The same is true for single player story-based games. So when one makes its way into TEO’s top 10 charts for Twitch content, it likely won’t stay there for more than a week or two, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the game wasn’t successful. It simply needs to be judged through a different lens.  

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