Eight years after its release and Grand Theft Auto V is now sitting firmly atop the gaming entertainment sector, having blitzed past League of Legends as 2021’s most-watched title.
GTA Online has given Rockstar’s open-world series more exposure than perhaps anyone could have imagined back in 2013. Closing in one 150 million sales, it’s now the second highest-selling video game of all time, just behind Minecraft.
What can this be attributed to? In large part, the unprecedented success of the role-playing community has been a major factor. A recent spike in popularity has drawn the likes of LeBron James, Travis Scott, and just about every marquee streamer.
With everyone jumping back into the RP scene, particularly the fan-favorite NoPixel server, GTA 5 has taken 2021 by storm. With over 536 million hours of watch-time across Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming, the online sensation has overtaken League of Legends as the most-watched video game.
Jumping well ahead of its metrics for the tail end of 2020, GTA 5’s recent spike has seen the title lock in the top spot for Q1 of 2021. Accumulating 2.4 million hours more than League of Legends, it stands as the most-watched game thus far in the new year, according to reports from Stream Hatchet.
Viewers around the world contributed to 8.8 billion hours of total stream watch time in the first three months of the year. GTA 5 absorbed the biggest chunk of that collective viewership, taking up roughly 6% of the entire market.
Among the most popular channels were none other than some of GTA’s biggest hitters. From the highs and lows of xQc’s involvement — the most-watched streamer of 2020 — to shroud and Valkyrae joining in on the fun, many of the internet’s biggest personalities have been diving into the world of GTA RP.
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It’s these entertaining streamers with vast followings that have helped boost GTA into the top spot. Similar can be said for other titles that round out the list. The monumental success of OfflineTV’s Rust server, for instance, saw the 2013 release jump 27 spots to become the eighth most-watched game of 2021 so far.
League of Legends is still right there in second place, for now. The free-to-play game dominated 2020 as the most-watched competitive title and has continued to perform strongly in 2021.
If GTA falls off anytime soon, it’ll take another extraordinary effort to buck Riot’s popular esports title from the throne. Despite falling to second for Q1 2021, it remains 145 million hours ahead of Fortnite in third place.
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With GTA now comfortably in the top spot, however, the sky truly is the limit. We’ll just have to wait and see how big the RP craze can get in the months to come.