Overwatch 2

Adding to the fun Blizzard news of late, Overwatch 2’s main selling point of having a PvE mode has been more or less scrapped. This particular link has an interview with the devs on the topic, which I think provides a more complete take on the situation.

Context here seems the more important bit. Yes, a developer should cut content that doesn’t meet their quality standards, and we’ve seen Blizzard do this over the years. There are dozens of examples of “promised” content that hit the floor (WoW housing and Titan system are notable, Ghost even more so). Now, the argument can be made here that selling a car with the promise of it having locking doors, then never delivering on said doors, is an interesting approach. Blizzards has never launched something with a promise of future delivery, they have instead outright cancelled the work before asking for money.

Overwatch 2’s primary existence as a sequel was predicated on 3 main items. Moving from 6v6 to 5v5, implementing a battlepass, and PvE. Overwatch 1 stopped all content delivery for 3 years so that they could figure of the PvE component. It would be a stretch to convince me that this particular model required an expansion and a content drought (which enabled Fortnite and Apex to take a massive chunk of this space) when you can look right at WoW’s massive mechanical changes over the years. I can understand that the knee-jerk reaction here is not positive. Though realistically, if you were waiting for PvE in Overwatch2, you really aren’t playing today, right?

The next bit of context is Blizzard’s staffing exodus. More than ample reading on that topic where executive decisions and culture have caused people to leave the org. And as any manager will tell you when you lose a key member, you likely lose 3. Dead wood / negative people are typically isolated when they leave. Strong skill sets and positive people will automatically pull people towards them. These are like papercuts, annoying but you can usually get through. However, there’s a point where you simply cannot find qualified resources to fill in those gaps… which is 99% incentive based. The “glory days” of Blizzard are well in the rearview mirror, so the pride of having that on your resume isn’t as strong as it once was. Is it an environment that a senior developer would want to enter? Can you fast track existing junior employees (who then get poached)? So yeah, there’s the fundamental question if Blizzard actually has the capacity, let alone the competence to deliver their lofty goals.

Tangent, as I tend to do, I recently had a town hall event where there were diverging styles presented, one of management and one of leadership. There is a very large gap between both, and not every manager is an actual leader, just like every leader is not necessarily a manager. In the larger business news context, the wide majority of CxO positions are held by managers. Makes sense, only the bottom line ever seems to matter. Leaders take risk and take accountability – ain’t too much of that on the scene today. A manager that takes a pay increase while cutting 10,000 jobs, well, it would be quite hard to articulate that as being leadership qualities.

I do have hope that Blizzard can find some effective leadership in the proverbial pile of rubble that is there today. As much for the nostalgia in me as it is for the development team that is certainly trying their hardest to get things done. I have no doubt that everyone actually coding goes in with the best of intentions and want to deliver amazing quality products. I do hope that they can achieve that goal, without gamer pitchforks being launched.

2 thoughts on “Overwatch 2

  1. Just a thought. Do you recall during Battle for Azeroth the island invasions. Intelligent NPCs that would hunt you down. I wonder if that was a test base for OW2 PvE. Something obvious was glitchy about it because as far as I recall it didn’t make an appearance in Shadowlands and I don’t think I’ve seen it in Dragonflight. There may be some AI proprietary issues we are not hearing about that could have made the choice to cut a done deal. That they will not be offering refunds for pre-purchase to people that bought in on the prospect of PvE is a bad move on their part coming off a few years of bad blood.


    • I do recall that, and all the potential that expeditions had. They had incredibly poor incentives.

      I would struggle to say Blizz has AI issues though. Their RTS experience would say otherwise… though that was in different engines.

      I can’t imagine the feeling of working on this for years and it being cut. There are so many factors here, it would be hard to say just one is culprit.

      Liked by 1 person

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