Players Escape from Tarkov, but Can’t Escape Twitch
Escape from Tarkov became a phenomenon in January, and while its success would not be possible without the developer’s ongoing support, the catalyst for its recent spike in popularity seems to be a Twitch promotion. Escape from Tarkov is an indie game in early access, not currently available on popular platforms like Steam. It must be purchased directly from the developer, with prices starting at $44.99 and going all the way up to $139.99. All pre-orders give access to the beta, and higher price tiers promise access to in-game bonuses and future DLC. Escape from Tarkov, as a game, includes many popular game mechanics that do well on Twitch. The game features large counts of players per session and also has cross-session progression. (In a session, players gain gear they can bring back to their base, but if they die they’ll lose the gear they’ve gathered, as well as and brought into the game.) The game also lends itself well to role-playing, a trend that has become popular on Twitch lately and which attributed to Grand Theft Auto’s recent resurgence on Twitch.
So how did Escape from Tarkov set the stage for success? After all, Tarkov has been in closed beta since 2017, but it never reached the view counts it has on Twitch until now. As seen in the chart above, Escape from Tarkov had a major patch toward the end of October. The patch was touted as the largest in the game’s history, including a new map, a base for characters to access between matches, new weapons, a graphical overhaul, and various fixes and optimizations. After the patch was released, peak Twitch views spiked to 70K. (Daily concurrent peaks the week prior were around 10K.). However, daily average views quickly regressed back to around 20K – 40K peak concurrent views a day.
Despite a big overhaul to the game resulting in a boost to Twitch viewership, Escape from Tarkov still hadn’t achieved its full audience, as we know now in hindsight. While the game experienced many patches from then until the end of the year, none of them were as substantial. Yet, on December 30, viewership on Twitch exploded to 173K. Escape from Tarkov had entered into a promotion with Twitch in which players were awarded in-game items including weapons, gear, and other rare items. These items were valuable as a result of the persistent nature of death affecting gear in the game.
This became a perfect storm for Escape from Tarkov. New players were interested in watching streams for the in-game items, which also led some top Twitch streamers, such as Dr. Disrespect, to stream the game, bringing in new viewers. The true synergy of this promotion is that it proved extremely effective at giving consumers an in-depth look at the changes made months prior in the big patch. Escape from Tarkov illustrates that success is a complex formula. Many games run promotions on Twitch, but they don’t have the breakout success that Escape from Tarkov experienced. At the same time, Escape from Tarkov’s ongoing support and the big patch alone weren’t powerful enough to drive the viewership it now enjoys. Even after the promotion’s conclusion, the game is still averaging 119k peak viewers daily.