This week Overwatch celebrated its first anniversary, and what a first year it’s enjoyed. For a game based on a new IP, it’s incredible to look at the numbers that Blizzard’s baby has brought home. Reportedly over 30 million players have jumped aboard across the three main consoles. while the game has remained a fixture within the AAA-gaming space. It’s a staggering achievement, all the more impressive in a generation when new IP’s have wilted and died in the sun. How did this happen, and how are Blizzard marching into the future?
Overwatch it seems was always destined to be well liked. With over 9.7 million players jumping into the BETA phase of the game, it’s clear Blizzard were onto a winner from the get-go. Yet a good game doesn’t always sell well; at least not as well as it probably deserves. Releasing in the same month as other shooters like DOOM and Battleborn, it wasn’t even as if Blizzard opted to avoid the competition. 2K’s Battleborn was the competition – at least that was how it should have gone down on paper.
When Overwatch released, its numbers quickly overwhelmed those of its nearest competitor. 2K’s offering was left eating dust in the wake of Blizzard’s insanely strong sales. By the end of end of June’s first week, Overwatch has 7 million gamers on all platforms. By the end of 2016, that number had ballooned to over 20 million. The game was a viral success – the likes of which is usually only reserved for the Call of Duty’s of the industry.
Overwatch is an incredibly interesting case of a developer sticking the landing. There’s not one part of the game that inherently feels bad or out-of-place. While it’s not the biggest package for a full priced retail outing, what does exist is hugely polished. Helping this is a constant stream of free content that Blizzard generously hands out to gamers. Yes the game has its microtransactions; but when gamers feel they’re getting value for money – it’s not so much a problem.
It also has to be said that Overwatch looks great. The animations of all the characters are of the highest standard; lending each character a unique feel and look. From taunts to the way they walk, characters never feel like they’re copy/pasted – which is quite the feat given the size of the roster. This extends to the games maps, are a wonderfully design with multiple choke points and ambush areas to play to each characters strengths and weaknesses. This was a game designed to deliver maximum enjoyment from the word go – whether it was your first play session, or the latest in your all-night binge.
There’s also a strong emphasis on teamwork. The characters are unique enough that their roles become important in achieving objectives. Too many of one character usually spells bad times when facing off against a well-balanced team. While characters are split into Attack, Defence, Tank and Support, most characters can be used in different ways with a bit of thought and a change in tactics.
This is a big area of Overwatch which gets overlooked and is seen better when playing Competitive with random players, as playing with friends and preparing a tactic for the upcoming battle can make victory easy. That’s not to say you can’t do well with random people it just needs some good communication and everyone having an understanding of the character they are using.
Realistically there are only two game modes in Overwatch the practice or warm up of arcade and Competitive mode which is like a salt mine. The development of the game on the E-Sport scene is helping to push it more into the public perception but as always the downside becomes the players who go online to show how much better they are than the pros. Competitive is fun as long as you don’t mind a tirade of abuse towards you if you do one thing wrong and if you do find a group who play well together try to keep hold and stay playing together.
Overwatch is a major jewel in Blizzard’s crown – with fun, fast, beautiful gameplay and an amazing community who keep coming back and supporting the game. Fans can’t get enough of the title . If the E-Sports scene continues to thrive and the developers keep the ideas coming the sky is the limit. It’s easy to see why the game is enjoying such success – and why its future is bright. Blizzard’s onto a good thing, it just needs to ensure it keeps that good thing going. As Mercy would say “Heroes Never Die”