Sunday, November 09, 2014

Thoughts on Overwatch

At Blizzcon, Blizzard unveiled their latest game: Overwatch. This also marks the first new world from Blizzard in 15+ years. Thank God.

So here are some quick thoughts on Overwatch:
  • The key element to take away from Blizzard's new world is that in the future, the moon will be populated by intelligent gorillas.

  • This new world is not dark. It's fun, vibrant, maybe even joyful and hopeful. I think that's a very good approach to the FPS scene. Most FPS games are on the darker side. Even "funny" FPS games like Duke Nukem, Serious Sam, and Team Fortress 2 go for more cynical, mordant humor.

  • I really like how Blizzard announces games with hands-on playable machines available. It's a really strong gesture of faith in their product. It's not empty hype or vaporware. Instead the hype is being generated by the regular people who actually got to play the game.

  • As to actual mechanics, things look good. People seem to like the responsiveness and control, which are vital to the genre. The different heroes seem to play differently and synergize well. There also looks to be a hero for most every playstyle.

  • The single most important design decision might be the mechanic Blizzard chose to leave out: an XP bar. Almost every game these days has some form of leveling or progression, or earning money to purchase weapons. Blizzard just goes old-school and eschews progression entirely.

  • Will I play Overwatch? I will try it out. However, the last couple of first-person games I played made me motion-sick, so I've avoided those types of games for the last few years.
All in all, Overwatch looks like an impressive addition to the Blizzard family.


  1. I have two significant problems with Overwatch:
    - does the World need yet another Team Fortress clone?
    - they explicitly wrote that "payment method is yet undecided". Which is either a blatant lie, or Blizzard went pants on retarded. The payment method is the first thing you decide and you build the game around it. I guess it's the first. They want the hype to build up before they announce that it'll be yet another pay-to-win crap like Heartstone.

  2. Nice to know I'm not the only person who gets motion-sick with shooters.

    I even have issues watching people play Mario Kart Wii if I'm not controlling one of the karts.

  3. I would have been surprised had it been anything but an FPS, after having spent all that time on Titan. I mean, Blizzard has a foot in all "long-games" now with Overwatch right? RTS, MOBA, CCG, RPG (including farmville, action and MMO) and now FPS.

  4. It would surprise me a great deal if Overwatch went anything but F2P with shop swag. I sure wouldn't pay to play it given the limited nature of these games and that there's some good and free options already. It definitely looks great though.

  5. Asmiroth--

    The one missing style is turn based strategy games, dominated by Civ.

  6. @Gevlon

    It's a lot more gray than what you think. Especially in large companies, it's not uncommon for people to build something they think is cool, THEN figure out how to monetize it. It's quite probable that their marketing department has a bunch of ideas, but the devs are in the dark because they're focusing on the core experience.

  7. Also, to go with what Talarian says, there's many things that Blizzard has done in games that can easily have been monetized in different ways without actually affecting the design work.

    Let's take Heroes of the Storm as an easy example. As a MOBA, there's a wide range of characters and an expectation of customization in appearances. The nature of the genre design expects these features. But the core design doesn't say how they would be released; some MOBAs out there have characters purchased and some give you all the characters upfront. Some MOBAs tie skins to accomplishments and levels, some to purchases. And on top of that, some MOBAs have initial payments, some are F2P. Any combination of these could result in a monetization model that continues to fund the game's development, but the decision on which one doesn't actually have any real effect on the game's development; regardless of whether all characters are DotA2 or LoL style, they still need to make those characters and skins.

    Regardless of how characters, skins, or weapons would be unlocked (if at all) in Overwatch, Blizzard still needed to make them in the first place. It doesn't matter how the game is going to be monetized in order to get to this point in development. How they proceed from this point, though, DOES depend on how they will monetize, because monetization strategies can affect the content release schedules after release.