The Overwatch 2 beta is finally here, and players can finally get a taste of how the hero shooter plays. With such a long gap between announcement and release, as well as a two-year hiatus on updates to the original Overwatch, there has been an understandable drop in player and viewership on Twitch. It lags behind its competitors, such as Valorant. The question is, will the sequel bring that audience back?
Going by the first day of the Overwatch 2 beta, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Last night, at one point, Overwatch was the most-watched category on Twitch. It peaked at 510,000 concurrent viewers, the most it had ever had. It looks likely to peak even higher today. Can we believe the numbers, though?
In order to reach the eyes, Blizzard uses a Twitch Drop program to entice players to watch. Overwatch 2 beta invites were limited on launch day, and if you weren’t selected at that time, the only guaranteed way to gain access to the beta is to watch four hours of Twitch streamers. between 10 a.m. PT and 1 p.m. ET. / 6:00 p.m. BST and 6:00 p.m. PT / 9:00 p.m. PT / 2:00 a.m. BST today. (For more on how this works, check out our Overwatch 2 beta sign-up guide.) Naturally, this means there will be a huge boost in viewership on Twitch, as the players are looking to enter the beta to watch streams and get an invite.
On top of that, some of Twitch’s biggest streamers are taking part in the Drop promotion, including Pokimane and XQC (which used to be part of the Overwatch League). That means their already massive audience, used to more variety, will be tuning in to watch the Overwatch 2 beta.
Inflated hype has worked in the past
Of course, this will result in fully inflated numbers for Overwatch 2’s launch, which is why you’ll see it rise in the most viewed charts. If you only want access to the beta, all you have to do is join a stream, put it in the background, and wait until you have access to the beta. Blizzard essentially cheats the system to bring Overwatch 2 to the top of Twitch whether people are watching streams or not.
Blizzard did not invent this strategy. It has been used by several of its competitors; perhaps most successfully by Riot Games when it launched the Valorant beta, which reached 1.7 million concurrent viewers (according to SulleyGnome). Players would watch streamers play Valorant and, eventually, they would have access to the beta; almost exactly the same way Overwatch works.
It’s easy to dismiss Twitch Drops as some kind of gimmick, but that’s just a marketing tool and doesn’t indicate that a game will be a flash in the pan. While Valorant’s viewership isn’t at the same level as when it launched, it remains the third most-watched video game on Twitch and reached a healthy peak of 157,000 concurrent viewers last month. Blizzard is aiming for the same success with Overwatch 2.
For the Twitch Drop strategy to work, Overwatch 2 still needs to be good. For the game to remain a superpower in the streaming space, it will need to retain streamers and, more importantly, everyday gamers.
While Blizzard cheats the system here, having so many eyes on Overwatch 2 should keep audiences loyal. Sure, that’s inflated hype, but it’s better than nothing. As a dedicated Overwatch player, it’s wonderful to see the game revive after all these years.