When viewership drops to just 7.5% of its initial run, there’s justification for spamming “ded game” in chat. But what can be done to save Halo Infinite?
Halo Infinite launched to huge hype. The surprise reveal of its free-to-play online merged with the nostalgia of hardcore Halo fans and FPS players desperately looking for something new. So naturally, this perfect hype-storm led to an explosion in viewership on Twitch.
But just three months later, the drop-off has been almost total. According to Streamscharts.com, the game dropped from peaks of 9.13 million hours watched in the first week to just 682.1k hours in the week ending February 27th.
This figure is far worse if you consider peak viewers. That figure dropped from 253,799 in the opening week to just 39,128 only 15 weeks later. But what has caused this huge drop-off, and how can it be fixed?
Are Halo fans Halo viewers?
A deeper dive into the figures can lead us to some revelation. First is the viewer distribution between top Halo streamers. The runaway most viewed channel is the official Halo channel. The next closest, FORMAL, barely pulls in half of the 5.72 million hours watched of the official Halo Twitch.
This suggests that the viewers that were tuned into official Halo were not as familiar with the general Halo streaming ecosystem. Players who are traditionally variety streamers, or switch between FPS games, such as summit1g, cloakzy, Myth, and LIRIK, saw a boost from streaming Halo Infinite but ultimately didn’t stick with the game.
Part of this has to do with a lack of Halo content in the past few years. And a stagnant competitive scene. This, bundled with a slow trickle of content that didn’t come fast enough and only recent promises of new updates, has left players not only sour on playing Halo Infinite but watching it as well.
Overestimating Halo’s popularity outside of NA
Like it or not, Halo has always been a hugely North American-dominated game. The original Xbox (platform for Halo and Halo 2) sold around 16 million units in North America, and only 8 million in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. Xbox 360, the platform that previously had the most successful Halo releases prior to Infinite, shipped almost 39 million units in the United States. But only 13.7 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, with 8.4 million of that making up sales in the UK.
This reflects in Halo’s audience and player base being dominated by English speakers. And that shows in the Halo Infinite's viewership, which is saturated by English language viewers and English language streamers.
The fact that almost every Halo fan forgets is that the game simply did not have the vast cultural impact that it did in North America anywhere else in the world. Except maybe the UK. Other shooters, such as the Call of Duty series, CS:GO, and now Valorant, have a huge reach beyond the English-speaking audience. This bolsters stream viewership considerably.
So what can be done?
Simply put, the competitive scene is the lifeline for Halo Infinite. The Halo Championship Series has seen viewership jump for the game during every Major. For example, the Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021 spiked viewership, while HCS Anaheim 2022 saw huge peaks as well. This shows when the stakes are high enough, and the competitive scene is being showcased, Halo fans are willing to turn up and watch the game. But the pedal can’t be taken off the gas now.
All this leads to the Halo Championship Series 2022: Kansas City Major. A hugely important event for the Halo scene, this competitive event will be the make-or-break for Halo Infinite. A huge tournament, with big names from across esports headlining, the KC Major could genuinely go down in history. However, it’s not just viewership that will cement whether Halo Infinite esports is here to stay. But whether the viewership is retained after the event.