The release of World of Warcraft’s Shadowlands expansion has resulted in the game’s Twitch category recording its peak concurrent viewership so far in 2020. The category reached its apex at 948,000 viewers just ten minutes post-launch according to TwitchTracker.
Although it did not quite hit the same numbers as 2019’s World of Warcraft Classic launch – the recreation of vanilla WoW reaching 1.1 million viewers at its zenith – the new expansion to the retail experience trounced the figures from 2018’s Battle for Azeroth (605,000).
Whether or not this is due to a continued knock-on effect from Classic’s overwhelming success, the delays to Shadowlands’ release stoking the engines of the proverbial hype train, or it simply being a beneficiary of the broader upwards trend in Twitch viewership as a whole remains to be seen.
WoW Shadowlands sees players entering the titular realm of the dead, following Sylvanas Windrunner’s shattering of the barrier between it and the living world. With several new zones to explore, as well as retail WoW’s first ever ‘level squish’ dropping players back down to level 50, players were evidently keen to see how some of the community’s biggest personalities and seasoned veterans would fare on this new frontier.
The other major point of intrigue comes in the form of the now-traditional race to reach the level cap. With Shadowlands returning the level cap from 120 to 60 – as it was in vanilla WoW – players have a good ten levels to power through to return to their maxed status. Indeed, it can be posited that the spectatorship of speedrunning added another layer to the expansion’s initial pull, with perhaps WoW’s most popular streamer in ‘Asmongold’ among those eager to be the first to ding 60.
While Asmongold unfortunately didn’t clock-in with the fastest time – the accolade instead going to Europe’s Monkeylool – he did at least hit the level cap during his Shadowlands launch stream. Peaking at just over 195,000 viewers, the streamer finally reached his goal after nearly six hours of solid play. Considering in our WoW Shadowlands review, Heather Newman found it could take around five hours to hit that on the pre-release servers, where player density and competition for enemy spawns was considerably lower, that’s an impressive time.