Data Journalist

Battle royale titles such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) dominated the video game airwaves in 2017 and 2018 but nowadays, gamers are talking about a different game—one released 15 years ago.

The power of nostalgia in video games

World of Warcraft (WoW), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment, was originally released in 2004 and its success led to seven different game expansions (there’s even a South Park episode dedicated to the game). On August 26, 2019, Blizzard released the highly anticipated WoW Classic, a return to the original game and its core mechanics before it saw those expansions and changes.

Nostalgia plays a powerful role in WoW Classic’s welcome reception. For many older gamers, WoW was one of the first game titles to see traction online and build a massive online community.

In its first full week after launching on August 26, World of Warcraft Classic drove online viewership on Twitch—a popular Amazon-owned live streaming platform—to new heights. In a single week after WoW Classic’s release, the game generated 47.1 million hours of game viewing time—far more than any other game has produced in a single week. Prior to that week, there had been just five occasions in which a game had generated more than 30 million hours watched. Two of those, of course, were Fortnite and Apex Legends.

According to YouGov data, World of Warcraft’s Buzz score (a measure of whether or not people have heard something about the game in the last two weeks) among gamers (US adults who play at least one hour of video games a week on mobile, console, or PC) sits higher than that of other massively popular games. WoW’s Buzz among this group of gamers has been trending upward since July, likely due to anticipation for WoW Classic’s release, and continues to do so nearly a month after its release.



What’s happening with other massively popular online games?

The data also indicates a few notable trends in game titles such as Epic Games’ Fortnite and Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch.

Fortnite’s popularity seems to be cooling down after arguably being the most popular game on the planet in 2018. Currently, the game is seeing its own share of troubles, especially in the latest season update, dubbed “Season X”, when it introduced B.R.U.T.E. Mech suits (essentially, robots that players can ride). Since the addition of these robots, the balance of the game has shifted to favor people who can get their hands on them and have become so overpowered that streamers who popularized Fortnite are now starting to turn away from the title.

Any guesses as to which game many of these streamers have turned to? WoW Classic. In fact, 20 percent of gamers say they heard something positive about Blizzard’s recreation of WoW at its highest point in September. During that same period, just seven percent of gamers heard something positive about Fortnite.

While Fortnite saw a brief decline in Buzz after the launch of Season X, the game has recovered a bit in that metric by the middle of September. YouGov data shows, though, that titles like WoW and Overwatch have trended upward and surpassed Fortnite in the number of gamers talking about them.

In the middle of August, Overwatch updated the game to include a feature called Role Queue, which brought some much needed balance changes to the game. Just a week after the update, Overwatch soared past Fortnite in terms of Buzz, with 21 percent of gamers indicating they heard something positive about Overwatch. Today, the title’s Buzz score still sits above that of Fortnite’s.

Learn more about YouGov Plan and Track

Image: Getty

Plan and track your campaigns and your brand

Contact us now for syndicated audience data measured against your marketing.
Related Content