The Overwatch 2 beta has finally arrived and players can finally get a taste of how the hero shooter plays. With such a long gap between announcement and launch, as well as a two-year break from updates to the original Overwatch, there has been an understandable drop in the number of players and viewers on Twitch. It lagged behind competitors such as Valorant. The question is, will the sequel bring that audience back?
If the first day of the Overwatch 2 beta is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” At one point last night, Overwatch was the most viewed category on Twitch. It reached an impressive 510,000 concurrent viewers, the most it ever had. It seems likely that it will peak even higher today. But can we believe the numbers?
To reach the eyes, Blizzard is using a Twitch Drop program for players to watch. Overwatch 2 beta invites were limited on launch day, and if you are not chosen, the only guaranteed way to access the beta is to watch four hours of Twitch streamers between 10am PT / 1pm ET /6pm: 00 BST and 18:00 PT/21:00 PT/2:00 BST today. (For more information on how this works, check out our Overwatch 2 beta signup guide.) Naturally, this means that there will be a huge increase in viewership on Twitch as players look to enter the beta login. to watch broadcasts and receive an invite.
Additionally, some of Twitch’s biggest streamers are participating in the Drop promotion, including Pokimane and XQC (which famously was a part of the Overwatch League). That means your already huge audience, used to more variety, will tune in to watch the Overwatch 2 beta.
Inflated hype has worked in the past
Of course, this will result in totally inflated numbers for the launch of Overwatch 2, which is why you’ll see it climbing the most viewed leaderboards. If you just want access to the beta, all you have to do is join a stream, put it in the background, and wait until you get beta access. Blizzard is essentially cheating the system to put Overwatch 2 at the top of Twitch, whether people are watching streams or not.
Blizzard didn’t 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 a staggering 1.7 million concurrent viewers (according to SulleyGnome). Players would watch streamers playing Valorant and eventually gain access to the beta; almost exactly the same way Overwatch is operating.
It’s easy to see Twitch Drops as some sort of gimmick, but it’s just a marketing tool and doesn’t indicate that a game will be a flash in the pan. While Valorant’s viewer numbers aren’t on par with its release, it’s still the third most watched video game on Twitch and reached a healthy peak of 157K concurrent viewers last month. Blizzard is looking 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, regular gamers.
While Blizzard is cheating the system here, having so many eyes on Overwatch 2 should make the audience stay. Sure, it’s inflated hype, but that’s better than nothing. Speaking as a dedicated Overwatch player, it’s wonderful to see the game so alive again after all these years.