2020 was an exciting and formative year for livestreaming. In addition to cancelled events and various upsets, there were also history-making livestreams and many innovations on Twitch & Co. What scandals were there? Who recorded the highest viewer numbers? Which games were particularly popular with creators? Find out all this and more in our big review of the year. We have summarized the major highlights of the livestreaming year 2020 for you and dare a small preview of what the year 2021 has in store in terms of streaming - enjoy!
The live streaming highlights of 2020
January - February 2020
- Dreamhack in Leipzig was once considered the biggest LAN party in the world, and over the years it developed into a gigantic meeting place for creators, streamers, fans, and gaming and cosplay enthusiasts. In January 2020, when there was still no talk of an impending pandemic, the gaming festival took place as usual, attracting 24,000 visitors to the hallowed exhibition halls and becoming a mecca for gaming fans for one weekend. Dreamhack 2020 marks the last major trade show event before the corona virus reaches Germany.
- The National Library of Spain announces to classify all video games developed in Spain as "Spanish cultural heritage". From now on, every video game developed in Spain will have a copy saved in the National Library of Spain, so anyone can check them in the future, as they were books. In Spain, there are 455 companies developing video games. In 2018, videogames earned more than 1,5 billions dollars in Spain.
- Even among streamers, the topic of mental health is no longer taboo. Psychologist Dr. Alok Kanoja gained widespread notoriety by advocating for Mental Health in his livestreams, raising funds for organizations and providing live therapy to some of the biggest Twitch celebrities. In addition to depression and burnout, his streams also cover topics such as cyberbullying, computer game addiction, and pressure to perform as a content creator.
March - April 2020
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released on March 20, 2020 for the Nintendo Switch, experienced a lot of hype on Twitch. The cuddly life simulation was extensively played by young and old, old and young, and both female and male streamers, and was at the top of the Twitch homepage for weeks.
- The artistically gifted streamer Broxh spends his shows carving elaborate Maori-style wooden sculptures. When the streamer, who was still largely unknown in April, was gifted 3 subs, he reacted to this gift with a fundamentally likeable modesty and asked the chat how to return the donated money. Twitch is a free platform, he says, and he would prefer to leave it at that. This action made waves on Twitter and quickly the 28-year-old New Zealander could not save himself from new subscribers and subs. He became a star overnight with his endearing manner.
- With the worldwide lockdowns, the main sources of income for most musicians also fell away from one day to the next. They were no longer able to hold live concerts in front of audiences due to the drastic restrictions. Therefore, many artists decided to present their music live on Twitch or YouTube. Not only to continue following their passion, but also to generate revenue during this difficult time. In most streams, viewers had the option to voluntarily donate money. However, there were also some bands or solo artists who relied on a fixed payment model with virtual tickets.
- The ban of Dr. Disrespect was certainly one of the biggest upsets of the year, and to this day it's not entirely clear why Twitch decided to ban the American-born artist from the platform for good.
- The European version of TwitchCon was actually supposed to take place May 2-3 in Amsterdam, but with the rapid spread of the coronavirus and the states' guidelines that come with it, Twitch decided to unceremoniously drop the event in the water. A TwitchCon EU for 2021 is still planned.
- The e-sports organization G2 held a fitting tournament as part of the release of the team shooter Valorant. The G2 Esports Valorant Invitational was held live on Twitch and spanned three days. Supported by OWN3D, StreamHeroes and Red Bull, 8 teams dueled to claim the prize money of 15,000 euros for themselves.
- Towards the middle of the year, the new design of Twitch's channel page provided a breath of fresh air. What was already presented at TwitchCon 2019 and was initially only reserved for streamers, was released for all users in May 2020. Among other things, the user-friendliness of the interface and the clarity of the website will benefit from the new design. An additional innovation that came with the update was the "channel trailer" feature. Now creators had the opportunity to make their channel palatable to viewers with a small trailer on the homepage. You can find a trailer maker for unique trailers here.
- The interest in indie games has never been higher. For this reason, the Guerilla Collective decided to set up a 3-day indie event in June 2020. Here they offered a platform for small, independent developers to present and talk about their latest games. The success of the event gave hope for a continuation in 2021.
- On June 19, 2020, the survival adventure The Last of Us 2 was released exclusively for Sony's PlayStation 4. Originally announced for February 2020, the action spectacle from Uncharted developer Naughty Dog finally celebrated its release and topped the top lists of most-played video games on Twitch for a few days. While critics and magazines were largely unanimous about the outstanding quality of the title, The Last of Us 2 was virtually boycotted by some fans. The reason for this are the story leaks that made the rounds on Reddit and Twitter at the beginning of the year.
- He is considered the strongest man in the world - Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, known as "The Mountain" from the celebrated fantasy series Game of Thrones, is also a big name in weight training in addition to his work as an actor. In May 2020, for example, he set a new world record in deadlifting and streamed it live on Twitch.
- What the sparrows were already whistling from the rooftops towards the beginning of the year became a sad certainty in August 2020. Due to the worldwide pandemic, the Gamescom organizers had no choice but to cancel the world's largest gaming consumer trade fair. In order to provide an adequate replacement and not leave the gaming community out in the cold, those responsible put together a digital event at a sporting pace, which was quite impressive in terms of content and appearance and entertained thousands of fans at home in front of their screens.
- With Mixer, Microsoft's in-house streaming platform was launched in January 2017 to stand up to Twitch & Co. After a bumpy start under the name Beam in 2016, Mixer secured partnerships with many major creators. Among them Ninja, the biggest and most successful streamer in the world. The American, who is already breaking all records on Twitch with his Fortnite gameplay, switched to Mixer for a 2-digit million sum. Other big names in gaming also committed to the new platform, and although these changes in the streaming business received intense coverage even in the tabloids, Mixer never really caught on as a platform for new users. This led Microsoft to pull the emergency brake in July 2020 and shut down the portal. Mixer merged with Facebook and is now present on the Internet under the name Facebook Gaming.
- Following the Mixer outing of Ninja and fellow streamer Shroud, the streamers are making their Twitch comebacks. After the two superstars signed a contract with Microsoft's Mixer, but the success of the new platform failed to materialize, the streaming superstars were forced to look for a new/old digital abode. After weeks of speculation about the plans, first Ninja and finally Shroud decided to return to the old place and cradle of their success - Twitch.
As if the summer wasn't eventful enough, Knossi, Sido, unsympathischTV & Manny Marc pack up their fishing gear in July, head to a lake and stream the action live on Twitch. What sounds like a relaxed outing in the fresh air turned out to be an insane streaming event with dimensions that were almost unthinkable for Germany until then. With nearly 300,000 live viewers on Saturday evening, the Angel crew even broke the worldwide Twitch record with the Angelcamp 2020. The event spanned three full days and was supported by several major sponsors, including StreamHeroes.
- Two months after leaving Twitch, the Doc aka Dr Disrespect made a big comeback on YouTube with 500,000 viewers. Among other things, he spoke there for the first time about his Twitch ban and still claimed to have no idea what the reason for it was.
- Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout breathed new life into the somewhat dusty Battle Royale genre in the summer of 2020. Following the Takeshi's Castle principle, up to 60 players per match have to fight their way through a breakneck course. Whoever manages to get across the finish line within the given time limit will advance to the next round. In the end, however, there is only room for one winner on the podium. The fun gameplay was well received by Twitch streamers and was played up and down for weeks.
September - October 2020
After the extremely successful fishing camp, the friendly troupe around Knossi & Sido went to an abandoned mansion just in time for Halloween to hunt for ghosts. The Horrorcamp once again overshadowed the Angelcamp in terms of effort and viewers, and the livestreaming record set in the summer was set just a few hours after the start.
- Collective creepiness is also the principle behind the new horror game Phasmophobia. As one of the few horror multiplayer titles, it captured the hearts of the Twitch community within a few days. Thrilling and nerve-wracking ghost adventures were created and millions of fans watched their favorite streamers get their hearts pounding.
- Twitch Watch Party has allowed streamers to watch series and movies live and together with their viewers on Twitch since September. Anyone with an Amazon Prime account can join and participate in Watch Party. One feature comes, another goes - in September, Twitch announced that the popular Twitch Sings would be discontinued at the turn of the year. This is probably related to the vexed topic of copyright.
- The Dota 2 tournament "The International", which was first held at Gamescom in 2011, is considered a gigantic e-sports event, and in 2020 it reached its temporary peak, even though it was cancelled due to the Corona pandemic. With a fabulous 40 million US dollars, the largest prize pool in e-sports history was to be distributed to the winners. Now the Dota World Championship is to be made up for in August 2021.
- In September, Microsoft caused a sensation in the gaming scene. The company bought the well-known game manufacturer Bethesda with all its sub-companies for 7.5 billion US dollars and thus acquired the rights to game hits such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. The deal made extremely high waves and the announcement was considered so absurd at first that it was initially thought to be a joke. Microsoft made it clear shortly after that new The Elder Scrolls or Fallout titles will probably still be released on the competing Sony consoles.
Soccer megastar Neymar apparently has a soft spot for computer games. Many fans dismissed the world footballer's statements and could not believe that such a dazzling personality and one of the most famous footballers in the world could even remotely have anything to do with Counterstrike & Co. Neymar silenced these voices when he decided to broadcast his Counterstrike matches live on Twitch. What the gaming fans got to see there left no questions unanswered. The Paris Saint Germain striker is a gifted gamer! More details you can find here.
- We all loved them - Pokémon cards. But the cards with the glittering monsters aren't just a dusty relic from the 90s, as Twitch streamers apparently took a liking to opening repackaged booster packs from eBay on camera. Always on the lookout for the rarest and most valuable card, over 100,000 packs were opened live on Twitch in a very short time. If you're also a collector and like to collect cards of your favorite streamers, definitely check out StreamHeroes!
- US streamer DrLupo actually wanted to play a few video games live on Twitch together with Borat actor Sascha Baron Cohen, but things went far differently than planned. The comedian and entertainer unleashed some hilarious antics in front of tens of thousands of viewers, turning a planned gaming session into a comedy extravaganza.
November - December 2020
- Copyright seems to be a never-ending issue for Twitch and its users. Towards the end of the year, for example, there were large-scale waves of bans due to copyright violations. This was explicitly about streamers playing copyrighted music during their show. The record labels threatened Twitch, Twitch threatened the creators and, in the end, no one knew what was still allowed and what was not. In an official email, Twitch advised streamers to delete their archived content in the form of VODs and clips to avoid being hit with potentially retroactive bans. Twitch saw the chaos as an opportunity to launch an entirely new feature: Twitch Soundtrack. The feature, which is still in beta, allows streamers to access a large library of music without having to worry about copyright infringement. Twitch Soundtrack is expected to be made available to all creators later in 2021. A similar, completely free service is also available from us: OWN3D Music
Gaming November was all about the new next-gen consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony unleashed their new technological wonders on the willing buyers. Well, not quite ... The release of the new consoles was overshadowed by a pre-order chaos, delivery bottlenecks and the resulting moon prices on eBay. Getting hold of a PlayStation 5 at release time was about as likely as winning the lottery. To this day, the consoles are traded on marketplaces for prices that are beyond good and evil. Whether the situation will relax in 2021 and everyone who wants to buy a console will have the opportunity to do so remains to be seen cautiously.
Gamers have been waiting for eight years and on December 15, 2020, the time finally came - Cyberpunk 2077 finally saw the light of day after two delays. However, the ambitious game from the Witcher makers caused the biggest gaming shitstorm of the year just a few hours after its release. The game is almost unplayable on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and even on high-end PCs, role-playing fans have to deal with bugs and glitches. The release fiasco culminated in Sony removing the game from the PlayStation Store and offering buyers refunds. CD Projekt Red promised to rectify the situation soon and announced two major patches for early 2021, which should eliminate the majority of the bugs.
- As every year, Geoff Keighley once again invited us to the Game Awards in 2020. Although under more difficult conditions as a streaming-only event, the content was no less interesting than in previous years. The game The Last of Us 2 won the most awards, including the one for "best game of the year", but the supposedly smaller categories also found a big stage. For example, Valkyrae won the award for Content Creator of the Year and the guys and gals from G2 were happy to receive the award for Best E-Sports Team.
To close the successful year, Knossi, Sido, unsympathischTV and Manny Marc gathered again for a one-day event. The big theme of the show: Christmas. The Weihnachtscamp once again entertained hundreds of thousands of viewers on St. Nicholas Day, as it had done with the fishing and horror camps. There was cooking, singing, dancing, playing and chatting. Towards the end, the crew even re-enacted the Nativity play more or less faithfully. An entertaining end to the year 2020!
- December 31st was one big day for the Spanish and LATAM Twitch community thanks to G2 Sports and Ibai. The streamer and all his friends (Barbeq, Ander and Reven) said goodbye to 2020 live from the G2 House. For the first time in history, his channel had more than 553K viewers, breaking his own record where months earlier he got 280K viewers. These numbers put the Streamer of the Year 2020 as the 3rd streaming with most concurrent viewers in Twitch’s history.
The most successful categories on Twitch 2020
2020 was an extremely successful year for Twitch. Every single category saw a big jump forward. For example, 17 billion hours of streams were watched in 2020, 6 billion more than the year before - that's more than 50%! An insane amount. The number of most concurrent viewers also jumped from 2.5 million to an incredible 6 million.
With a watchtime of no less than 1,782,478,001 hours, the category "Just Chatting" was the most successful in 2020, closely followed by the category "League of Legends" which recorded a watchtime of 1,473,287,030 hours. An overview of the top 15 categories in the year can be found below:
Development of the most popular streaming platforms
We all spent most of the year at home, so it's no big surprise that not only Amazon, Netflix & Co. were able to make a big leap forward with their entertainment offerings, but also livestreaming platforms were better attended than ever. The superior market leader Twitch, for example, has been enjoying steadily rising user numbers since April. In August 2020, the livestreaming hype on Twitch reached its peak for the time being, when almost 985 million people simultaneously used the platform's offer. Looking at the pure watch time, this was almost doubled to almost 1.8 billion hours in December compared to the previous year (881 million hours).
Even though YouTube is not the largest live gaming platform, many large events such as the Coachella Festival or the presentation of the new game consoles were broadcast live on YouTube, which could have ensured that YouTube's live function also made a considerable leap.
Conclusion & outlook for the streaming year 2021
Even though 2020 was a special year in every way, more and more users and creators found their way into the huge streaming community. In addition to lockdowns, curfews and other restrictions, the year was one thing above all: digital. Anyone with a smartphone, PC, laptop or tablet could join in and pick the right stream from the gigantic selection and be entertained by innovative and motivated creators. Live streaming is no longer a niche, and more and more people are flocking to the streaming platforms - whether as creators or viewers. If we look ahead to 2021, we can almost expect Twitch to grow significantly once again. We should also assume that the streaming platforms will once again have many great features and one or two surprises in store for us. We are looking forward to it!