Director’s Take – Reflections on Overwatch 2
Happy Friday everyone!
Overwatch 2 was released nearly 6 months ago. It's hard to believe that we're wrapping up Season 3, and about to jump into Season 4, and still have a lot of exciting moments ahead. Rather than talk about a specific topic this week, like matchmaking, I thought that we could look back over the past 6 months and talk about how we feel the game is doing and what we've learned over that time. For those that have been with us since day one, this may feel like it’s covering familiar territory. I appreciate you sticking with me while we recap the last 6 months.
Speaking of talking… one of the biggest complaints we heard from players was that we were not doing a good job communicating about the game. We've been focused on turning this around and have put a lot of energy into giving players information about the game, both in terms of what's coming and what we're thinking. We plan to continue this for the foreseeable future, and we're talking about ways to further improve our communication with you. For instance, we'd like to publish roadmaps that extend beyond the next season to give you an idea of what to expect from the game in a longer timeframe. We hope to talk more about this and our plans for other future releases in April.
Another common topic has been the state of Support Heroes. A common (and accurate) complaint was Support Heroes felt constantly picked on. This feedback is something the team has been working on addressing since before launch. To do so, we tackled the problem from a few different angles:
- Reduce the ability for Damage Heroes to disrupt the enemy backline and target Supports
- Give Supports additional tools to deal with the threat
- Exercise some restraint. Many players were getting accustomed to the switch to 5v5.
To start, DPS Heroes lost their speed passive, and a number of flanking Heroes got nerfed. We also added survivability to Support Heroes, buffing their Role Passive as well as making changes to specific Heroes to increase their durability– Changes like Zenyatta's kick and Brigitte's shield buff are examples of this working well, while some, like Mercy’s Guardian Angel changes, we believe we overcorrected (something you’ll see addressed in Season 4). The way we went about these changes was to preserve the play style of Support while still addressing the core issues. With what we’ve learned since launch, we feel like the Support role is in a much better place now, and will continue to improve as we add two new Heroes to their ranks in Seasons 4&6
Next, let's talk collabs. We all loved and appreciated your reaction and excitement for our One-Punch Man collaboration. Full transparency, we were a little worried about blending another universe, even one as cool as this, into Overwatch. When we first announced the collab, we talked about our values with how we'd like to handle events like these, and players seemed to agree with us. The popularity of the event has given us the confidence to do more collaborations, and we're hoping to premier another large collab later this year.
Let's talk about the Competitive system.
Players have provided a lot of feedback on the reworked system that launched with Overwatch 2. One of the biggest issues that players bring up is how their experience has been affected by a partial rating reset at the beginning of each Competitive season. This (along with some matchmaking issues) has caused a lot of confusion in matches. Starting with Season 4 we'll be removing this reset, and players should have a much clearer picture of their rating, season-to-season.
Internally, we’re still discussing whether a rating reset should be a part of the Competitive system. We believe that a reset could make sense in OW2, but it would have to take a different form. We’re currently asking ourselves; what if a partial reset happened at a much greater time interval (perhaps yearly) and coincided with a greater set of changes to the game or to the Ranked system?
Players have also asked us to provide more information to better understand what's happening as they rank, as well as to get a clearer picture of individual match performance. We've gradually been introducing features (and have more in Season 4) addressing some of these asks. Starting with Season 4, players will now see their progress toward a new rating and their win/loss record during that period. We're also looking at giving some information about the overall team skill range and balance of a particular match., At this point, we've decided to not display ratings for individual players by default.
Last topic, and we feel like this is the most important one; we’re highly focused on feedback from players who say that the game feels unrewarding and doesn’t do a great job of recognizing their investment. Addressing this feedback touches almost every aspect of the game. We think that there are a few broad areas that these conversations cover:
- Players want to feel rewarded for their time playing the game - they'd like to be able to earn items that they want without an unreasonable grind to get them.
- Players want the game to recognize their time and skill investment as well as give them a way to show this to others
- Players want their performance to be celebrated while they are playing in a match.
We've made changes to the game addressing some of these issues. Events now typically have skins that can be earned, and we've added Credits to the Battle Pass that allow players to purchase nearly all original OW event skins. On top of that, we've substantially increased the amount of XP earned from each match. We're working on rebuilding the On Fire system in the new engine, as well as making changes to Play of the Game to show a greater variety of game-making plays. We're also working on a much larger Hero and player progression system that we’re hopeful will launch later this year. This new system replaces the old player level system, while expanding on it to offer a bunch of categories for players to level and show off your progress to others. We'll continue to work on this aspect of the game. Besides the moment-to-moment gameplay of Overwatch, this is the largest part of our game feeling good to play.
The last six months have been really exciting; we’ve learned so much from our community and are looking forward to continuously improving the game. It probably goes without saying, but we're eager to share what's coming in Season 4 (and beyond!) – there’s so much more to come in 2023!Have a great weekend. See you in game!