Apex Legends only just launched, and it’s already making massive waves. The game has already garnered millions of viewing hours across the internet, and it’s only growing. And with it now eclipsing the viewer numbers of its biggest competitor, Fortnite, it looks like there could be major change on the horizon.
Dexerto reports that the average Twitch viewership for Apex Legends for the week was 183,089, with a peak of 491,894. Fortnite’s average was 115,947, with a peak of 326,454. That’s nuts when you consider that Fortnite has had hundreds of thousands more hours of footage put out in the same timeframe compared to Apex Legends.
And make no mistake about it, even though Apex Legends managed to pass 10 million players in less than a week, it’s nowhere as near as popular compared to Fortnite. The latter of which still gets millions of concurrent players more than the former. At time of writing, Apex Legends sits at 373,000
Although these numbers of viewers are great for the initial popularity of the title, it’s the long-term sustainability of player numbers that matters. We’ve seen massively popular games like H1Z1 and PUBG thrive thanks in huge part to the viewership on Twitch and other streaming services essentially providing free advertising for the game in myriad ways. Whether it be from hilarious clips from fails or bugs, or a seriously hyped win, these platforms are a net boon for many games. But there’s a dark side to this success.
There’s a common problem with the fickle nature of online communities as they relate to pretty much anything. In this case, once a game drops from the regular rotation of the most popular streamers, it starts to fade in player numbers. Fortnite dominated Twitch streams in 2018, and the gamers and streamers loved it, for a time. Massively popular streamers like Summit1G openly bashed the game after weeks of streaming it consistently, and the cracks in viewer numbers started to show.
As streamers break from the trend of what’s popular, they lose massive amounts of viewers. This leads to a snowball effect where streamers are forced to either find new popular games, or to keep playing a game they dislike, just to retain viewers. Sure, many streamers can retain viewers by being generally entertaining to watch, but many are stuck chasing trends. So there’s a question that needs to be answered here. At what point does the balancing act fail and numbers of players fall off as streaming popularity for a game also decreases? Some streamers, like Summit1G bounce back and instead focus on playing what is the most fun for them, which works out really well. Because as Twitch continues to skyrocket in popularity, streamers will have to fight harder to keep their viewers, so why not have fun doing it.
None of the hugely popular battle royale entries have really hit this point yet, but it will be interesting to see what happens next. And just for the sake of clarity, I don’t think this drop-off is going to happen for some time, but as the gaming community eventually moves past this trend, it will be very intriguing to see what happens in the future.
And though it would take some time for these millions of gamers to bleed to other games from Apex Legends, it will eventually happen, the question remains of just how long that would take.