The Valorant (opens in new tab) closed beta got underway earlier today, and—no surprise here—there looks to be an awful lot of interest in it. Roughly 1.6 million people are watching it being played on Twitch (opens in new tab), which as Kotaku (opens in new tab) notes puts it close to the all-time record of 1.7 million concurrent viewers put up by Fortnite during its season 10-ending black hole. Update: Valorant views have since hit 1.7 million.
One factor behind Valorant's big Twitch success may lie in the way Riot is distributing closed beta keys. Instead of doling them out at random to people who ask nicely, in the style of CS:GO Souvenir item drops, they're being given to people who are watching the streams (opens in new tab). That's naturally going to drive up the number of viewers, and it's also going to encourage people to game the system: According to Dot Esports (opens in new tab), eager Valorantines are setting up multiple linked Riot and Twitch accounts in order to increase their odds of getting a key.
Given that, it'll be interesting to see how the viewership holds up as keys become more widely available, although there's no question that the interest is "real" and not just a rush for something free to play for a few days. Riot's other game, League of Legends (opens in new tab), remains a huge success, and the studio's decision to finally move into something different after more than a decade of LoL is bound to attract attention. Riot has also been very judicious with Valorant's drip-feed unveiling: We've had some hands-on time with it, but shared gameplay has until today been restricted to brief teasers and an influencers event that took place last weekend.
It may be awhile yet before Riot is ready to start handing out keys on a large scale: Some beta testers were reportedly running into troubles logging into the game, and at last check Riot was still working to track down the troubles. A handful of us here at PC Gamer have access to Valorant and we'll continue to report on this phase of the game's release.
We've deployed a fix that should, well, fix the error 43 problems. For those of you in, let us know (sorry for those of you who aren't.) When we're confident this is the fix, we'll also turn on drops and more Closed Beta entitlements!April 7, 2020
We'll have more to share about the closed beta soon. While you wait for that, and a key of your own, be sure to check out our guide to Valorant's heroes (opens in new tab), a rundown of all the badges and rank names (opens in new tab), and our thoughts on how the game's hero abilities promise to make it "an exciting departure from CS:GO (opens in new tab)."