Looking at Overwatch’s release you’d be understood for expecting slightly more bang for your buck. With 21 heroes, 12 maps and 4 different game modes at release it was a relatively slim offering for the best part of $60 but had enough variety and quality that people were excited enough to give it a chance.
The big question that Blizzard faced was how the game would progress and would there be regular content releases to retain players’ attention? The release of ‘competitive mode’ in June was the first large update the game received, and despite general opinion on the first season of ‘competitive’ and how rankings are controlled, there is no denying it was a meaty addition to the quick matches and weekly brawls.
Then in July came Ana. She’s one of the more interesting support characters seen in any video game in my expert humble opinion. A support sniper who can heal team-mates, can massively buff an ally with her ultimate but can also stop enemies from healing, she adds something completely new to the game and opens new possibilities in terms of team composition and strategies. Oh, and her sleep dart is oh-so-satisfying when you stop someone mid-ultimate. The release of Ana has proven to players that Blizzard are not afraid of shaking things up and changing how people can play the game.
The latest update, the Overwatch Summer Games which will run for the next three weeks (trailer for which can be found below), has brought with it over 100 items, specialized loot boxes, and specialized weekly brawls. The first brawl, Lucioball, has introduced a Rocket League style game in which you must score goals in a 3v3 arena. The introduction of these new and interesting game modes has again contributed to the continued interest and playerbase. Compare it to a game that came out at a similar time such as Batteborn and it becomes clearer why the games have had such differing fortunes since launch.
Players are currently intrigued by the upcoming hero Sombra who has been cryptically teased by Blizzard with thousands of redditors devoted to deciphering all the breadcrumbs that are being dropped by the developers. The ARG that players are working through has featured skymaps, QR codes, datamining through update files, and binary codes. This method of dangling in front of us a hero, who is apparently going to be a stealth hacker, shows that Blizzard are truly (no matter how much I may hate the cliché) thinking outside the box.
Oh, and did I mention that all of this is free? As a token of goodwill, and to put everyone on an equal level, Blizzard are releasing all their DLC for free. This is great for new players who pick up the game as they won’t have to contend with DLC and worry about having to shell out for all the map packs and heroes. Looking at Evolve’s launch – that featured all kinds of packages and a multitude of DLC add-ons including heroes, monsters and maps – you can see why Blizzard have taken the route of free add-ons. This engenders a real sense positivity throughout the Overwatch community.
I think all players will agree that this way of dealing with post-launch content is what we’d like to see from most games. Blizzard have shown an understanding of the gaming community that seems to be completely lacking from other publishers and developers (cough EA, Ubisoft, Konami cough). It is now up to the developers to continue this trend and keep listening to the players; if they do that then Overwatch will keep its high player count long after release.