Is Overwatch dead?

Overwatch was the first multiplayer game that I really sunk my teeth into after my Call of Duty phase. When it first released, Overwatch seemed to be everywhere, with every creator and their dog making content around it. And then, it all just kind of stopped. Many content creators left, and soon the community started too also. But then, Overwatch 2 arrived, and people started to return to the game. But was it enough? In this post, we’re going to deep dive into Overwatch, its tumultuous history, and figure out… is Overwatch dead?

source: Polygon

Heroes Never Die… until they do.

Overwatch was first released back in 2016. The game reportedly earned over $1 Billion USD in its first year, as well as garnering of 50 million players after just three years. The game seemed to be going from strength to strength. But with the introduction of Battle Royale games like Fortnite and Apex: Legends rising in popularity across 2018 and 2019, Overwatch started to see a decline.

While Blizzard never officially revealed player count, Twitch viewership seriously plummeted from late 2019 onwards. This coincided with a lot of creators moving on from the game, and general interest further declined after that.

source: Statista

But what caused people to leave?

There are a few main areas which players cite as reasons for the player base depleting.

The first, being lack of content. In other games like Fortnite,  large-scale events and changes happen quite frequently, which in contrast, Overwatch does not do as often. The main events OW has also have repeats each year, leading creators to struggle to find new areas to explore for content. With a lack of new characters, maps and events, (especially during the later part of OW1’s run), it’s no surprise viewership on Twitch decreased. And with less overall eyes on the game, it’s easy to associate a link between stale content and dropping numbers,

Another avenue which led to many players to leave, is toxicity. Overwatch was my first foray into competitive gaming, and sadly, my last. In a game where it is essential to work as a team, of course, there will be some bad eggs. But the devs seemed determined to do very little about it. Many players complained about little to no punishment for toxic players, despite a report feature featured in the game since launch.

Finally, lacklustre balance changes. In a game based around a hero composition, balance problems were a big cause of contention in the community. The best display of this was how the Overwatch team handled Mercy back in the early  days. A lot of pro-players complained about the support character Mercy’s initial kit, which included a mass res ultimate. But instead of removing that feature and making her slightly less overpowered… they made her worse. This also lasted for months! The slow response to Mercy and how it was all handled was, at the time, very frustrating for players and I’m surprised more people didn’t stop playing during this incident.

source: Polygon

So, is Overwatch dead?

Short answer is no it isn’t. Blizzard revealed that 25 million players had played Overwatch 2 in the first 10 days of the servers going live. It still currently averages roughly a million players a day worldwide. With the switch to free-to-play, it also means people who had never played OW1 before due to the price tag, can try out OW2 due to its free nature.

While Overwatch 2 did have some complaints, overall, the consensus does seem to be leaning positive. While players did complain about the prices of the shop items and the battle pass, for the first time it seems like the franchise might be on the right path forward. Devs do seem to be listening to players and making efforts to implement character changes. And while I’m not sure if it means Overwatch is saved, it’s definitely on a better trajectory than it was before.

So, what do you think? Is Overwatch dead? Share your thoughts in the comment below.

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Appreciator of fantasy novels, RPG games, cats and good tea.

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