Valorant is arguably the most well-marketed game in the world right now, dominating Twitch and the attention of thousands of gamers. The new shooter from Riot blends elements of CS: GO, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six: Siege to create an addicting yet punishing game.
The hype of Valorant is unprecedented, breaking Twitch records and hoarding viewership for the past two weeks. Don’t get it confused, though. Valorant’s record numbers are not simply from just curious viewers interested in the game, but the result of a genius partnership -- and it begins with exclusivity.
Valorant breaks Twitch Records
Valorant is still in closed beta, and the only way to play is by receiving a key. Quite a few notable content creators and streamers received beta keys to Valorant in the early weeks of March. When the closed beta was announced and showcased, the general public acquired keys through Twitch’s drop system. A handful of streamers have been playing Valorant for about a month now, showcasing its features and randomly dropping beta keys to their viewers.
Only registered viewers who had their Riot account connected to their Twitch account were eligible to receive a drop. Riot’s random selection of a lucky few is a smart tactic when building a new IP. This method exposes fans to the game prior to playing their first match. While some people spend hours watching streams and learning, others have resorted to idle watching and bot accounts.
Riot failed to properly inform fans of how the Valorant beta drop would work on Twitch. The vaguely worded announcement led to fans believing that multiple accounts watching the same stream would give them better odds. To add on, a few streamers dropped bad information in the early days. By the time Riot explained that after three hours of watching a drop enabled stream, viewers are placed into a pool for random selection, the rabid fanbase created thousands of fake Twitch accounts. Getting a drop is fairly rare when you consider the 800,000+ Valorant viewers at any given point throughout the day. The exclusivity of the beta only added to the hype.
Criticisms have been directed at both Riot and Twitch to crack down on the bots that are inflating their numbers. The massive surge in viewership that would signify a monumental partnership, may have only pulled a quarter of the views. It didn’t take long for accounts with beta access to start popping up for sale across the internet. Those caught selling accounts with beta access had their accounts banned and locked indefinitely.
A Competitive Edge
— 100 Thieves (@100Thieves) April 14, 2020
On the first day of Valorant’s closed beta, TwitchRivals hosted a small tournament between streamers to showcase the title. It had incredible viewership and was the igniting spark for Valorant’s Twitch popularity. Most notably, the 100Thieves Valorant Invitational took place on April 14 and brought in over 100,000 viewers on its main channel. That day, Valorant viewership on Twitch spiked at 907,000 for the game, nearly triple that of CS: GO at 270,000. At any point in time, Valorant is the most-watched channel, dominating its competitors on Twitch.
To further their investment towards the future of Valorant, Riot recently made a statement concerning the game as an esports title. They plan on having third party organizations host competitions until they feel Valorant is large enough for a league of its own. Third-party organizers will host Valorant tournaments at three tiers to encourage competition across skill levels.