RIP – Overwatch

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.

Content drought

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.

Competition

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.

Sequel

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.

Leadership

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).

Sponsors

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.

End Result

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.

3 thoughts on “RIP – Overwatch

  1. One of the things I find interesting in the assumptions I’ve seen made in MMO land is that Blizzard’s MAUs have been faltering because of WoW, but the data simply doesn’t bear that out. Overwatch has been one of the big losers for a while now, and even before OW2 was announced and certainly before the recent lawsuit issues, the game just lost so much luster so quickly due to various tuning issues, metagaming aspects, and a lack of care (which is clearly due to the team internally switching gears over to OW2).

    I agree with the article broadly, opinion or not, and I think your analysis here is pretty spot-on – Overwatch felt like the next big thing back in 2014 when it was announced, launched with so much energy and excitement, and ever since the first season of OWL was a lackluster launch, it’s felt like the game has been coasting on that initial goodwill and wearing out its welcome. The model for OW2 fascinates me too, in that by any modern definition, it’s a DLC single-player campaign that is being sold as a sequel while the base game will maintain updates. If they still launch in that manner, I’ll be really curious to see how it goes – and that’s not even a given since the game has had changes in leadership and has to deal with the impact on OWL and the OW playerbase that recent news and continuing trends have had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Entirely. The concept here, financially, is what really gets me wondering why Jeff left. Old Blizz would be game to launch mega DLC. New Blizz… if the ROI isn’t like 10x the investment, then it won’t fly.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s