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World of Warcraft is on pace for the most-watched week of streaming by any game on Twitch so far this year following the release of Classic on Monday. The title’s 32.7M hours watched from Monday through Friday morning is second only to Dota 2, which had 34M hours watched last week thanks to The International.
Prior to August, the only title that managed to produce more than 30M hours watched in a single week was EA’s battle royale game Apex Legends during its short-lived stint as Twitch’s most-popular game immediately after its release.
WoW Classic’s release has held a number of different types of appeal for viewers. Not only are numerous high-profile streamers switching to the game, but WoW-endemic personalities are also benefiting from the title, including Zack “Asmongold” [no last name known] and Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris.
Meanwhile, the “race to world first” that has broken out of the game’s effective re-release has built up an audience of esports enthusiasts. Many individuals looking to become the first person in the world to reach the game’s max level (60) are streaming their efforts, and esports organization Method is tracking those efforts with a broadcast of its own.
Additionally, once enough players have reached level 60, there will be an ensuing race to be the first guild in the world to complete Classic’s first raid. As of the time of writing this piece, no person has reached level 60, but a few people have come close. “JokerD” (real name unknown) has notably managed to generate viewership (493K hours watched) on Twitch as he stands near the top of the charts among streamers at level 58.
On the other hand, Method, which has become known for streaming “race to world first” events for newly released raids in the retail version of WoW, has put together 1.7M hours watched since Monday, averaging 19K CCV across 89 hours of airtime.
The more impressive part of Classic’s success so far though has been among top influencers who have been marathoning the game. Asmongold, who is known as the game’s most-watched streamer on Twitch, has predictably led all WoW channels with 5.6M hours watched and an average of 79K CCV.
Morris has also seen his viewership jump significantly, as well as his airtime. His 61 hours of broadcasting since release has averaged 44K CCV and generated 3.2M hours watched.
Outside of Morris and Asmongold, there have been a few heavy-hitters to join in on the WoW action. Former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Fortnite streamer Tim “TimTheTatman” Betar are both known for their fondness of World of Warcraft, and each has taken a significant amount of time to stream the game this week.
Grzesiek’s 57 hours of airtime from Monday-Friday has helped him hit 1.6M hours watched, and Betar’s 38 hours of airtime has him at 807K hours watched.
Outside of the top 5 channels streaming WoW this week, average viewership hasn’t been staggeringly high. Only five of the top 10 most-watched WoW channels since Monday have averaged more than 10K CCV. The key for Classic so far has been the volume of airtime for streamers, particularly the ones dedicating themselves to WoW marathon streams.
From Monday afternoon through Friday morning, all but one of the top 10 most-watched WoW channels has been live for more than 50 hours. That averages out to more than 10 hours of streaming per day.
To put it in perspective, Asmongold, who is a dedicated WoW streamer, spent around 37-40 hours a week streaming in August prior to Classic’s release. From Monday through Friday morning alone, he has been live for nearly 64 hours. Similarly, Morris has gone from streaming for 40-43 hours per week for the past two weeks to logging 61 hours of airtime in just a few short days.
While WoW viewership has declined precipitously since Classic’s release, when it had 1.1M concurrent viewers on Monday night, the game is still producing as many hours watched in a single day right now as WoW was for entire weeks before Classic.
It’s unrealistic to expect WoW to maintain a 30M hours watched per week clip, but the true question is where does viewership fall, and how far does it fall until it settles? With Blizzard Entertainment releasing portions of Classic content in phases, we can expect that some amount of viewership will be revived in Classic as fresh content is released.
However, with speedrunning streamers plowing through the game’s content, there is a strong chance that the game could end up looking like many game releases on Twitch that have short-lived viewership. We can’t expect that streamers like Morris and Asmongold will continue to push 60+ hours of airtime over the course of just four to five days regularly, and if they do, we can’t expect them to continue to have the same level of enticing content that they’re currently producing.
As WoW Classic settles into its spot on Twitch, it will surely work to supplement the audience that WoW as a retail game has managed to build over time, but the longevity of WoW Classic remains a question mark.