Livestreaming report: ‘New World’ hits top 5 on Twitch and ‘virtual YouTubers’ on the rise

New World. (Amazon Game Studios Photo)

Twitch’s audience numbers have begun to tick back up now that summer’s over; “virtual YouTubers” are pulling in surprisingly big numbers; and Amazon’s MMORPG New World, in its first full month on Twitch, debuted at No. 5 on the overall top 10 for total hours watched.

These are some of the big takeaways from the latest “State of the Stream” report, released on Monday morning by the Israeli influencer-marketing form StreamElements and its Chicago-based analytics partner, Rainmaker.gg. The State of the Stream monthly analysis tracks viewership numbers and content production on major livestreaming platforms, such as the Amazon-owned Twitch network.

New World, after its debut in late September, proved to be a popular draw on Twitch for the next month. Rainmaker’s data tracks 83 million total hours watched of New World content, which puts it as the No. 5 biggest category on Twitch in October.

While Amazon’s cross-promotional efforts for New World obviously had an effect on the game’s viewership stats—among other things, it hired a number of high-profile streamers like Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek for labeled promotional broadcasts — it was also up against some strong competition.

October was a big month for perennial Twitch hits League of Legends and Dota 2, both of which ran their esports tournament finals. Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena game published by the Bellevue, Wash.-based Valve Software, saw a 189% boost to its Twitch viewership numbers during the International, which ran in Bucharest from Oct. 7 to 17.

While New World‘s numbers have fallen from its launch-week frenzy, it’s still built a healthy audience for itself, with more than 200,000 concurrent players on Steam at time of writing. This puts it at No. 3 overall on the platform, just behind the effectively-unbeatable Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. A big X-factor in New World‘s successful launch was always how many people would stick with it long enough to reach and populate its endgame, but a month out, it seems like it has found an audience.

New World might have hit No. 4 were it not for a big esports bump for Dota 2. (StreamElements/Rainmaker.gg image)

That isn’t to say that New World hasn’t had a few growing pains. A particular point of criticism in the last few weeks has been the game’s player-driven economy, where in-game currency becomes increasingly difficult to make as a character approaches level 60, which is the current maximum. That’s led to reports of actual deflation in New World, at least on some servers, where more money leaves the game’s economy than is being replaced.

It’s not uncommon for MMORPGs to have problems with inflation. If there’s too much cash in the in-game economy, it often drives the price of basic goods into the stratosphere, outside the reach of casual or new players. Games like World of Warcraft have tried to address that with “gold sinks”: services or items sold by NPC vendors, such as equipment repairs, which removes the money spent from circulation.

With New World, there isn’t enough gold in the system, because the incidental costs attached to typical gameplay at level 60 — repairs, player housing, crafting new items — can rapidly outpace a casual player’s available income. That effectively makes everything too cheap, which reportedly has led to the creation of an informal barter system on some servers. No gold changes hands; it’s straight-up one resource for another.

Amazon has attempted to address the deflation issue, most recently with a big Nov. 3 patch that, among other things, has made it cheaper for players to respec or craft items. Its recently-debuted endgame PVP mode Outpost Rush also offers a big cash payout for the winning team, which should inject some more currency into the game’s economy.

Facebook Gaming is gradually getting to a point where it could pose an actual threat to Twitch. On the other hand, it is Facebook. (StreamElements/Rainmaker.GG image)

Twitch itself saw a boost in its viewership numbers in October, at 1.9 billion hours watched. This is a substantial upward swing over the last four months’ audience, which had peaked in May before taking a dramatic dive in June.

Twitch’s only competitor worth mentioning, Facebook Gaming, still only pulls in a quarter of Twitch’s numbers, but saw a 61% year-over-year growth in October with over 521 million hours watched.

For content creators, the big story of the month as per Rainmaker’s data may be the slow rise of “virtual YouTubers” (VTubers) on Twitch. A VTuber uses software like Facerig with motion-tracking hardware to create a responsive, animated, typically anime-themed avatar for themselves, then creates a persona around that avatar to stream with.

While they’re more commonly found on YouTube, hence the name, the cost of entry is low enough that VTubers have been sneaking onto other broadcast platforms over the course of the last couple of years. An American talent management agency for VTubers, VShojo, opened in late 2020 with a specific focus on Twitch broadcasting.

For women who stream on Twitch, there’s Amouranth, pokimane, then everyone else. (StreamElements/Rainmaker.GG image)

Two VShojo-affiliated streamers, ironmouse and Veibae, hit the top 10 list for most-watched women broadcasters on Twitch in October. Like many if not all Vtubers, the actual performers behind both characters are largely anonymous, and both focus primarily on live play of various video games.

While the VTubing scene is generally super weird — it’s one of those things that makes you sound crazy if you have to try and explain it to someone who doesn’t spend way too much time on the internet — it’s proven surprisingly popular worldwide, particularly in Japan. The most popular VTuber in the field is currently Gawr Gura, an English-language performer with the Japanese talent agency Hololive, who quickly gathered over 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube following her debut in Sept. 2020.

With VTubers gaining greater visibility on Twitch, it’s likely that more will appear on the platform, particularly as it offers a relatively worry-free, private way to start streaming. Self-conscious about your face? No problem — spend a few hundred dollars on a new webcam, download something like VRoid Studio, and pretend to be a crazy anime schoolgirl/cryptid instead.

Tags
Amazon Games New world Twitch