The gaming landscape on Twitch really has changed in the past year, and the numbers back that up.
2020 was a strange year with a lot of surprises that switched up the way people played and watched games. Twitch viewership broke all kinds of records thanks to people staying inside and social distancing. The surplus of new viewers also brought a variety of new interests, most of which were a bit different from the more competitive games at the top of the Twitch’s charts in previous years.
Sully Gnome has tracked the viewership on Twitch over the last 365 days, giving us the ten most viewed categories on the streaming platform in 2020.
At the top of the charts is Just Chatting, a category reserved for content creators who just want to talk with viewers, react to videos, and put on other types of interactive streams. The watch time was almost at 2 billion hours. This most likely comes as no surprise for a year like 2020, when many people opted to stay indoors and avoid crowds. To not feel completely alone, people turned into Twitch and other streaming platforms, connecting with people over their screens. Talking with people in chat and listening to a streamer talk to their audience was a popular way to pass the time.
League of Legends remains one of the most popular esports of all time. The World Championship finals were the second-most viewed esports tournament in the history of esports. The four-game series peaked with a viewership of 3.88 million viewers excluding Chinese platforms, per Esports Charts. The boost most likely came from the absence of other major esports tournaments, some of which were canceled due to travel concerns.
People love to say that Fortnite is dying, but more people are playing the battle royale now than ever before. While the competitive scene has become an area of concern and many streamers have decided to quit the game, viewers are still tuning in like never before. The category’s peak viewership was 2,331,987, which beat the peak viewership of Just Chatting and League of Legends.
With almost 820,000,000 hours of watch time, GTA continues to dominate the Twitch charts. Even though some big-name streamers have called the game a “flop,” viewers are clearly entertained by streamers’ online antics in the crime-heavy series.
It’s no surprise to see this game in the top 10. Valorant surged onto the scene when the closed beta arrived in the summer of 2020. Riot’s new tactical shooter immediately caught the attention of pro players and streamers, who dropped current games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Fortnite to play the new title before formal esports plans had even been announced. Throughout 2020, people continued to play and watch Valorant as the competitive scene, supported by developer Riot Games, began to take shape.
Many top streamers decided to play Call of Duty: Warzone in 2020. This helped the game get 800,440,731 hours of watch time last year, as well as the game’s growing esports scene with the launch of a dedicated franchised league similar to the Overwatch League.
Nobody is surprised to see CSGO on the list. At number six, CSGO saw 55,387,928 hours of viewership in 2020 despite a lack of Majors and reductions in other big tournaments. For a while, fans were concerned that the game would sink in popularity due to Riot’s new competitive title, Valorant. This became an even bigger concern when CSGO streamers and pros dropped the old title in favor of perfecting agent abilities in Valorant. But CSGO had its biggest year ever in 2020, with its loyal fans still refusing to leave the game for Valorant.
With almost 20 million hours watched on Twitch and a new promotional connection now made to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., Minecraft had a great 2020. Big-name streamers like Turner “Tfue” Tenney have also switched to the casual and creative game, giving its popularity a boost.
With a lack of esports support from Valve due to 2020’s travel and social concerns, Dota 2 has struggled to keep up with its esports competitors. With no big tournaments to watch, Dota 2’s viewership slipped to 495,008,970 hours last year. But despite a lack of competition, Dota 2 spent the year providing new content to its players, including major updates and new heroes. This has kept the game on gamers’ radars.
Popular World of Warcraft streamers such as Zack “Asmongold” have kept the game quite popular throughout the past few years. Asmongold and other well-known content creators formed a competitive team of all the top WoW players, called One True King. These personalities have kept the WoW scene entertaining and fresh, making it a popular Twitch category in recent months. The game was also boosted by the release of its latest expansion pack, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, which has been given a generally positive reception from the game’s fans.
Many casual streamers and content creators picked up this social deduction game in 2020, making it one of the most popular “new” titles of the year despite the fact that it came out multiple years before. Fans loved watching their favorite streaming personalities argue and rage during the meetings, either accusing each other of being an imposter or defending themselves passionately.
Players including Imane “Pokimane” Anys and Corpse Husband would create gaming sessions with other well-known streamers, which even included New York state representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This shot the game up to 11th place with 413,780,561 hours of viewership.