While it’s historically true that Blizzard-Activision doesn’t publish its precise active player numbers for games once they’ve been out a few years, we still know a lot about the Overwatch player count still active in the game. Naturally, they aren’t nearly as high as they used to be, but the game is still far from dying – even if quite a few people like to gleefully claim the game is dead.
A strong start
When Overwatch released in 2016, the shooter immediately soared to incredible popularity – in its first week out, Overwatch players logged more than 119 million hours of playtime. By the end of its first month, Blizzard reported that the Overwatch player count had exceeded 10 million players. Hundreds of millions of dollars flew into Blizzard’s pockets in the first few months in sales alone, and that’s not including the continued loot box revenue the company still makes.
Even before launch, Overwatch’s open beta drew almost 10 million players – and naturally, the Overwatch player numbers continued to increase over time. It’s worth noting that these numbers don’t represent the active Overwatch player base, but rather the number of accounts for the game. By January 2021, over 60 million Overwatch accounts had been created. If you look at an Overwatch player count graph you can see that the increase in accounts started to noticeably flatten around January 2018, though it didn’t stop trending up.
Active player numbers
As mentioned, Blizzard doesn’t release active player numbers for quite a few of its games, however, there is still info that can be extrapolated from things like earnings reports and the like. In the case of the latest 2020 earnings call report, we can roughly surmise that the Overwatch player count 2021 numbered roughly 10 million. Around that many Overwatch players were actively playing the game at least monthly.
This is a sharp decrease from launch year, where 35 million players actively played. An even sharper decline can be seen in Twitch viewer numbers. While Overwatch esports events still get a lot of views, the overall number of viewers has declined sharply. Specifically, in the middle of 2019, viewer numbers dropped from a peak 47k viewers to a rather shocking 14k. Since then, the numbers haven’t recovered. While previously, viewer figures exceeding 30k weren’t uncommon, the last time they managed this was before September 2019. Lack of content is in no small part responsible for this, but also some of the changes made to the game – and yes, waning player numbers too.
Esports & Overwatch Betting
Of course, the esports side of the whole Overwatch player count is a bit different. The esports side of the game has always followed its own rules – this is still true. Then again, it also had its own challenges – the drain of players towards Valorant, for example. Recently, a lot of the best Overwatch players have started leaving the game in favour of playing other games. The end of last season saw dozens of players dismissed from teams, with few if any contracts being extended.
A lot of new players were pulled in – LA Valiant picked up an entire team from Contenders China, for example, while some teams like Atlanta Reign did maintain a lot of their Overwatch players. Whether these changes are more likely to help or harm the Overwatch players count, not to mention the Overwatch viewers and Overwatch betting count remains to be seen – so far, fans have shown themselves to be ambivalent at best about these changes.
A lot of fans and players are looking forward to the upcoming release of Overwatch 2. While the game doesn’t have a release date yet, it’s expected that its release will mark an uptick in the Overwatch player count. The game makes lofty promises – improved gameplay, more lore, and a rebalanced line-up of heroes. A lot of lapsed players are expected to come back and check out the new release when it’s out – this probably won’t change the trajectory of the first Overwatch game, but it is quite likely to give Overwatch 2 a good boost of interest and players when it launches.