What Makes a Game Fun to Watch?

Almost everyone has a story of watching a game. Maybe it was when you were a kid watching a friend or an older sibling play something on an SNES or N64, or attending an eSports tournament and seeing the intensity of the crown and competition surrounding a game. There’s something special about being on the spectator side of things. You have the opportunity to see your favorite game from a different perspective and be purely entertained rather than have it coupled with being engaged.

So what drives gaming viewership? Gaming viewership isn’t a recent phenomenon, but it has become widely popularized. YouTube and Twitch are flooded with videos of social gamers playing their favorite games while reacting to them and they garner millions of views. eSports tournaments are also recorded, and gaming viewership increases exponentially due to better accessibility to these events. You’d think that because people can access these experiences digitally that they’d see less gaming viewership from physical spectators, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s clear that people love to watch people playing video games. But what makes a particular game enjoyable to watch? At Gamercraft, we’ve looked into what factors contribute to increasing gaming viewership and discovered a few specific criteria popular games follow.

Driving Factors for Gaming Viewership

1) Intense and/or Fast Paced Gameplay

There’s a reason why action movies are so entertaining. They’re chock full of high-octane scenes that keep us on the edge of our seats. Plus, they’re less cerebral and easy to focus on due to their quick pace. For video games, the same rules apply. High amounts of gaming viewership are usually garnered by games that feature intense and/or fast paced gameplay.

What Drives Gaming Viewership? What Makes a Game Fun to Watch?

Think of an eSports competition, games like Overwatch, Counter-Strike, and Dota 2 are viewed highly across the board. In fact, the International Dota 2 tournament achieved a combined 52.8 million viewing hours across Twitch and YouTube and the Counter-Strike ELEAGUE Major 49.5 million hours.

2) There’s a Competitive Aspect

Nothing gets more views like some friendly competition. Gaming viewership is often high for games that feature a competitive aspect to them. These are games that eSports tournaments are centered around or ones that casual streamers play when they create new content for their audience.

What Drives Gaming Viewership? What Makes a Game Fun to Watch?

Fortnite is currently charted at the top of Twitch’s most watched list for this month with nearly 80 million spectating hours logged. Gaming viewership for League of Legends clocks in around 65 million hours and Apex Legends at 25 million. For viewers, seeing their favorite streamer or eSports competitor play is enjoyable and keeps them eager for more. It’s the same reason people watch sports, competition is exciting.

3) Collaborative Gameplay

Games that feature collaborative or co-op gameplay typically perform well when it comes to gaming viewership. Many of the popular single player competitive eSports games feature squad and co-op modes that add to the entertainment factor. Grand Theft Auto V (released in 2013) still rakes in nearly 60 million viewing hours because of the sheer chaos players can create in sandbox environments with each other. Dota 2 (one of the most viewed games and most played on Steam) features two teams of five players competing to destroy the same goal point.

What Drives Gaming Viewership? What Makes a Game Fun to Watch?

Fans of streamers get to experience humor, personality, and gameplay styles from multiple people, and they love it. Add some friend or team-mate drama and you’ve got yourself a dedicated fan base and better gaming viewership.

4) There are Creation Aspects

Even though Minecraft was initially released in 2009, it still maintains a huge player audience and gaming viewership ten years later. Super Mario Maker 2 was released this month and it was met with critical success and praise from players. It’s safee to say that building and creation has a solid place in current video games.

What Drives Gaming Viewership? What Makes a Game Fun to Watch?

Even a game as popular and competitive like Fortnite features building and creation aspects. Viewers love to see what players can dream up while in-game and how they can use building elements to play the game their way. Gaminge viewership for these types of experiences typically comes from younger spectators who have grown up with games of these types.

5) Cinematic Gameplay

While this strays away from the characteristics of a typical eSports title, you can’t ignore the fact that a genuinely good single-player game is fun to watch. If a game isn’t having players compete, then it should take them on a journey through a story. Games like God of War (2018), Read Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed, and Uncharted take people through compelling, emotionally driven, and largely cinematic storylines that grip the player and those watching.

What Drives Gaming Viewership? What Makes a Game Fun to Watch?

Despite these games featuring no competitive or co-op gameplay, streams and walkthroughs for these titles are viewed in the tens of millions of times. Everyone loves a good story and they make for much higher gaming viewership.

While we at Gamercraft always recommend playing the games you’re interested in, take a minute to sit back and watch every once in a while. You might see another side to your favorite game that you never saw before!

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