An opinion article, fine, but also one that really does a good job highlighting the compounding Blizzard woes of poor pipeline management.
There are multiple factors here, and all of them are compounding on each other. Nearly all of them deal with Blizzard’s management approach.
The pace of content for any GaaS is predicated on keeping people engaged. OW has been borderline maintenance mode, in line with the WoW content pipeline approach. Is game development hard? HELL YEAH. Did it get harder with COVID, triple hell yeah. At we 18 months into the COVID model? Yup, and any management team that wasn’t able to adapt (not reach 100% of prior, simply adapt) really shouldn’t be a management team. So while yes, there are delays, no it shouldn’t be an all-stop.
Valorant is one, no doubt. But Apex, Fortnite and a pile of others still manage to release content on some cadence and take some eyeballs. Gamers are locusts and lemmings. Cool that you had something 3 months ago, but there’s a bright and shiny over here.
Fair to point that Blizzard made a point of keeping track with WoW to launch updates to compete with FF14, Wildstar and other MMOs. The shoe is clearly on the other foot now.
Any “live” game keeps eyeballs as long as they know there’s a roadmap. Announcing a sequel, means that you’re pulling people from the current one to the next one. Halo 2 players moved to Halo 3. But those game launch cycles are 1 to 2 years. Overwatch 2 was announced at BlizzCon 2019. It will not launch until 2022, at the earliest.
The serious downside to sequels is that you need an A and B team. Each alternates between dev and support. It was made really clear that this did not exist for OW2, and that they needed resources shared between both. Why not add more people? First, the skills are hard to find, and second, that costs money.
There’s no denying that Jeff Kaplan is the reason that Overwatch even exists. The game director leaving mid-stream is never a good sign. And we can’t shy away that this whole lawsuit is going to cause some leadership ripples (for now, this seems to be hitting Diablo 4).
It seems you only need to wait a day to learn about another sponsor dropping OWL. This is a financial consideration after all… HotS was shut down due to funding. OWL cannot survive without sponsors, and if OWL doesn’t exist, then there’s not much coming in terms of funding for future content.
This is a year and a half of content drought, nothing in the pipeline, leadership woes, serious competition, and diminishing funds. This doesn’t mean that OW2 is dead in the water, but it does provide some serious indications that OW1 is on it’s last legs as an e-sports item. It’ll move into the HotS bucket of maintenance mode.
I really didn’t think that OW would have reached this space this quickly. A fascinating set of circumstances.