After a series of supposed leaks and rumors started floating about the Overwatch community that Blizzard planned on implementing bans on certain heroes in the team-based shooter because some top level players wanted them to, Lead Designer Jeff Kaplan took to the Blizzard forums to clarify some things, and did so in a pretty frank manner.
In a lengthy post, Kaplan said that there isn’t a huge push to add hero bans to Overwatch, as the team doesn’t believe it will solve the problems it believes the game has, and doesn’t want to cater to some specific player mindsets, generally surrounding dislike of certain heroes and strategies.
“I am going to give an answer that is not going to be very popular,” Kaplan said. “Basically, it’s a PvP game. You don’t get to pick what the enemy team does. The challenge is overcoming the enemy team with teamwork, ingenuity and skill. It feels really off to me that the other team dictates how or what I play. So if your reason is that you don’t want to play against certain heroes, I think we’ll agree to disagree on this point. We’ve changed our minds in the past. But that’s where we’re at for now.”
Beyond this, Kaplan addresses fans who say hero bans would help move a stagnant meta. In his post he goes on to say that Blizzard’s plan in place is to create a fluid meta through balance changes that can be molded by the development team, rather than opening up the game to a meta that is contingent on which heroes players want to ban. Apparently the studio has a solution in place that it will be detailing in a developer update next week.
“But just implementing hero bans does not mean the meta will move,” Kaplan said. “Studying other games, the end result is usually a “ban meta”. The downside of a ban meta, is that players are often at odds with each other when someone on their team bans an “off-ban-meta” hero. The same frustrations that players experience with the meta exist in a ban meta. Hero bans are not a silver bullet solution to making the meta move. If the problem we are trying to solve is that the meta needs to change more, hero bans might actually make the problem worse, not better. We do a have a solution in mind – an actual system – that we’ll talk about (next week’s dev update) but it is not hero bans.”
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Kaplan signs off saying that there are plans in place to put out balance patches more quickly, which he hopes will address issues of stagnant metas in the future.
What Kaplan is referring to as a system to help create a more fluid meta is yet to be seen, but even just in the past year Blizzard has shown a propensity to make drastic changes to Overwatch for the sake of both the meta and an improved casual player’s experience like the addition of Role Queue, which requires teams to be made up of a balanced role composition (even if it came with some unintended side effects).
In recent days, Overwatch’s updates and additional content have been fewer and farther between, which Blizzard has mostly attributed to the development of Overwatch 2, which is coming out eventually, but nobody knows when.