• Leandro Foruria

On YouTube, Pokémon is the very best, like no Pokémon ever was


By Leandro Foruria

November was a big month for releases, but over on Twitch it’s business as usual. League, Fortnite, and the usual suspects still make up the top 10 games on the platform. Unsurprisingly, new releases like Pokémon, Death Stranding, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order had healthy numbers on Twitch, but on YouTube, these titles shine, with each title accumulating more views than League of Legends over the month of November. Of these titles, Pokémon shines brightest, so let’s go a bit deeper and find out why.

Pokémon Sword and Shield have over 350M combined views in November. Impressive, but if you’re thinking, “well, it’s Pokémon, of course it does,” don’t be so quick to judge! Sword and Shield nearly doubled Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee’s performances on YouTube last year, despite their release dates being a day apart in their respective years. Looking through the most popular videos for the title doesn’t reveal anything too surprising – it’s a mix of what you’d expect around a new Pokémon release. The most popular videos revolve around showcasing new Pokémon, the regional variants, character customization, a healthy amount of Let’s Plays, and videos already aiming to prove/disprove early rumors about what’s possible in the game. Pre-release was just as big for Sword and Shield, with early content drops doing big numbers leading up to launch compared to last year. while Pokémon Let’s Go was the first Pokémon title on Switch, these were remakes of older titles. Aside from the revamped visuals, there was little here to promote or build excitement around. By comparison, Nintendo was able to slowly trickle out trailers for new Pokémon, variants, and features like Gigantamaxing through official channels and other outlets. So while a nearly double view count is shocking, it’s also fairly easy to account for.


Wrapping back around, there’s still one unanswered question; why don’t we see this trend on Twitch? While Twitch is an important metric, and growing in importance as scenes like esports expand, it’s still very different from YouTube and doesn’t cover the same demographic. Pokémon illustrates this point perfectly. Despite Sword and Shield nearly doubling views on YouTube compared to Let’s Go, Twitch performance is extremely similar, increasing only slightly, year-over-year. The difference is content. Longevity for Pokémon on Twitch revolves around competitive battling and the work that goes into it. Those fundamentals haven’t changed much since last year’s entry in the franchise. As such, the trend in higher viewership due to new content is invisible on Twitch, but incredibly pronounced on YouTube, where players go to search for, and are surfaced, news about the upcoming game. The complete picture of a game’s performance can’t be perceived from looking at data solely from one platform, and despite the ever-growing emphasis on Twitch metrics, the industry still needs a high-level view of engagement across these platforms.

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