Report reveals major game streaming growth and trends in 2021

by Adam Fitch  · 
Report reveals major game streaming growth and trends in 2021

Live streaming data analytics firm Stream Hatchet has released its annual report on the gaming industry for 2021, revealing tonnes of insights into the rise of playing and watching video games in popular culture.

The platforms: Remember the streaming war where platforms were securing exclusivity to content creators? While it seemed to have calmed down in the past year, the battle to be at the top is not yet over.

  • According to the report, overall watch time across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming increased by 21% in 2021 as lockdowns kept people inside. 653M hours of gaming live streams were watched each week on average.
  • Twitch still leads in the west, accounting for 71% of total hours watched in 2021. The Amazon-owned platform racked up an average of 6.075 billion hours watched per quarter.
  • YouTube bested Facebook in the first half of the year for hours watched but dropped off in the latter half. It became the only western platform to "experience a decrease in live streaming watch time" despite having signed major creators DrLupo and TimTheTatMan during the year.
  • Facebook's ascension into becoming the second most-watched streaming platform was led by international gaming creators, with its top five streamers being outside of the United States.
Garena
Free Fire is hardly discussed in the West, but it's nothing short of a phenomenon in the East.

Region matters: While the internet can be accessed in most of the world, viewers tend to have their preferences depending on the region they live in and the cultural norms there.

  • The report claims Twitch is the preferred platform in the Americas, Western Europe, Australia, Sub-Saharan, and Southern Africa.
  • YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming are the preferred platforms for Asian content, potentially due to mobile-friendly apps being utilized in a region where much of internet usage and gaming is done on mobile devices.

Games and genres: Perhaps surprising to some, the Battle Royale genre remained king in the world of streaming. Westerners may well be shocked to learn it wasn't Fortnite or Warzone that topped the list for the game that racked up the most viewing hours.

  • Battle Royale was the most-watched genre out of them all, leading the way with 32.3% of the total share of hours watched throughout the year. Mobile titles Free Fire and PUBG Mobile, which are huge in the East, were the first and third-ranked titles respectively with Fortnite coming in second.
  • Open world games such as Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V helped the genre to grasp second place, accounting for 24.4% of hours watched in 2021.
  • MOBAs — with League of Legends accounting for 55.2% of the entire genre — came in at third with a 20.8% share. First-person shooters, mainly VALORANT and CS:GO, deserve a mention too with an honorable 13.4%.

The gender disparity: A lot has been said on women in gaming and esports over the past few years, and it's clear that the industry is still very male-heavy at the top — even when it comes to streaming.

  • Stream Hatchet estimates only 5% of the top 200 gaming influencers are women.
  • 27% of the top 3,000 game streamers across Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming are female. It was 28% in 2020.