Blizzard Knows Overwatch Has a Content Problem

The studio wants the game to feel like it has a "constant heartbeat."

Last week, Overwatch lead Jeff Kaplan announced his departure from Blizzard after 19 years at the company. Aaron Keller, who was part of the original Overwatch team, has taken his place as lead on the series, including both Overwatch and its upcoming sequel Overwatch 2. Keller has given his first interview as director with GameSpot, and it’s a lengthy interview about his goals and fears about stepping into the role worth checking out in full if you’re an Overwatch fan. But interestingly enough, he also talks about an issue Overwatch has been suffering from in the months since its sequel’s announcement back in 2019: the content drought.

Overwatch has felt like it’s been on life support recently. The game hasn’t had a new playable hero in over a year, has been largely relying on old seasonal events and new skins, and hasn’t had a new story mission added during its Archives event as the story team is working primarily on Overwatch 2. There have been frequent balance changes, however, and that’s stuff that will benefit both games as they will share the competitive multiplayer modes. But Keller told GameSpot that Blizzard is working on new features “as big as anything” the studio has added to the game already. This probably isn’t a new hero, as those are all being held back until Overwatch 2, but it could mean some game-changing additions like Role Queue that might change the way the game plays.

“Yeah, there are really big features and systems coming soon,” Keller said.
“As big as anything we’ve built for this game, and the amount of resources that we’ve poured into these has been massive across almost every aspect of our team to do it. Those will be coming out soon. I don’t have a date that I can announce right now. Hopefully, it’s something that we’ll be able to start talking about sometime in the near future, but I am very excited for them and I can’t wait to see people’s reactions.”

Elsewhere in the interview, GameSpot asked if Overwatch 2 might utilize some models present in other live service games, such as a Battle Pass. Keller said he couldn’t say whether the team was looking into any specific model, but said the plan is to implement systems that will give the sequel a “constant heartbeat,” something the live game hasn’t felt in awhile.

I can’t really speak to exactly what will be in there, whether this game is going to have a battle pass or not, but I think I can talk to our values a little bit because when we when we design anything at Blizzard we like to set up the values for it, the pillars for it, and then everything kind of derives from those particular values. The values for Overwatch 2 are that we want the game to feel like it has a constant heartbeat, that there are a lot of updates to the game, and that the community knows that it’s kind of our first priority moving forward.

It’s hard for me to say, every live game is a little different. Whether the value is a live service value… I think our value is to put as much time and resources as we can into updating the live game and to making it always feel new and fresh and substantial.”

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If nothing else, it sounds like Blizzard is well aware of Overwatch’s current, and honestly, established shortcomings over the years when it comes to content rollout. The sequel will feature not only the competitive modes it will share with the original game, but also PvE missions and a campaign. So there’s a lot of possibilities when it comes to evolving content for Overwatch 2 in the future. It feels like Overwatch has outgrown the constraints of the original game, which makes the follow-up’s expansion into multiple modes capable of frequent updates exciting. But unfortunately, Overwatch 2 isn’t coming out in 2021, so it might be some time before we get a sense of how the series is going to retain players moving forward. Since the team’s BlizzConline presentation earlier this year, Blizzard has said that Overwatch 2 updates will be more frequent moving forward.