Magic: The Gathering Arena and Auto Chess rise as Hearthstone's top Twitch contenders
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The rise in popularity of Magic: The Gathering Arena and Auto Chess has them competing with the powerhouse that is Blizzard’s Hearthstone, according to a new report from Gamesight.

Gamesight, an influencer analytics and marketing firm based in Seattle, gave an in-depth look into how the “digital collectible card games genres” are duking it out in terms of getting more streamers and viewers on Twitch.

Gamesight found that Hearthstone bleeding Twitch streamers and viewers in 2018 has really given Magic: The Gathering an opportunity to “threaten its position as genre leader.”

“Wizards of the Coast has put a ton of time, effort, and money into building their streamer and viewer base for Magic: The Gathering Arena, and we’re starting to see it really pay off for them,” Adam Lieb, the CEO of Gamesight, explained.

Magic: The Gathering Arena received over 780 million games played with its open beta, and since its October release, MTG has firmly established itself in the second place position.

Magic: The Gathering Arena and Auto Chess challenge Hearthstone for Twitch viewership.
Monthly hours watched for the top 10 digital collectible card games on Twitch. Image provided by Gamesight.

Auto Chess’s rise in popularity also made an impact on both Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Arena. The report found that the turn-based strategy game that was released as a Dota 2 mod pulled content creators away from the other titles, resulting in a drop of viewership for them.  

It should be noted, however, that Auto Chess streams were initially categorized by Twitch under Dota 2. In March 2019, it received a separate category. This ambiguity makes it a little more challenging to see the precise impact of Auto Chess as far as Twitch viewership and content creators up until then. Nonetheless, there were indirect measures Gamesight could consider. “The first is that once Auto Chess was released, Hearthstone’s performance on Twitch took a large hit. There are no other events to account for such a swing during that period.”

The report also found that Hearthstone players nl_Kripp and Thijs took the spot as the top two most watched Twitch content creators for the genre. Hearthstone was their primary game, and they totaled 29,339,691 and 28,143,801 hours watched respectively.

Magic: The Gathering Arena and Auto Chess challenge Hearthstone for Twitch viewership.
The top 10 Twitch influencers in terms of how many hours watched they have generated since January 1, 2018. Image provided by Gamesight.

nl_Kripp was highlighted for playing multiple titles over the last 15 months. “By bringing his significant audience to multiple games, he helped elevate the visibility of the genre, not just an individual title,” the report found.

One of these card games was Artifact,  which “pulled in significant time from top tier content creators from across the genre.” Artifact, however, saw a sharp rise and a steep decline in terms of hours watched. The report found that it peaked at around six million hours watched on its month of release, and then it fell to approximately 65,000 by the end of March 2019.

The future of Artifact would rely on some investment and a revamp of the game, according to Gamesight. “It is unlikely that Artifact can see the same massive rise that they saw initially, but a strong overhaul and some marketing investment into the top tier [collectible card game] content creators may be able to right the ship, at least somewhat.”

The trajectory of Artifact’s presence on Twitch. Image provided by Gamesight.

As for the future of Hearthstone, the report concluded that it should see a solid rebound because of the Rise of Shadows expansion, which, “given the trends of 2018, should give Hearthstone a significant boost.” Hearthstone remains the king of the digital collectible card game genre, and there is no reason to think that will change in the near future.

In terms of the report’s methodology, Gamesight used channel level data, “snapshot information about streams, what is being streamed, and the viewership of that stream” to gather information. “Gamesight then analyzes this data to create derived metrics, including total viewership of individual streams and total viewership of games.”

You can check out the full “Industry Report: State of the DCCG Genre on Twitch,” but email registration is required.

Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!