Overwatch may very well be the most successful new IP to hit the gaming scene in over a decade.
That a new multiplayer shooter could enter the market, attract 25 million players, and win countless Game Of The Year awards goes to show that gamers do appreciate innovative and diverse approaches to tried and true genres.
It seems as though the Overwatch juggernaut is in no hurry to slow down, and 2017 may yet truly kickstart the franchise into gaming glory (if its first 12 months didn’t already achieve that).
As a game that has gone through countless changes, tweaks, nerfs and buffs over its first year, it has evolved into a gaming beast with limitless potential.
Activision Blizzard, parent company of developer, Blizzard, certainly sees and embraces that potential, and investors have been clamouring for an insight into the game’s future.
During its recent Q4 2016 investor’s briefing, the gaming giant lifted the lid on its plan for Overwatch, and how it hopes to expand and evolve the brand moving forward.
Linear Media: TV, film, print
In a conversation with BBC back in November, co-president of Activision-Blizzard Studios, Stacey Sher, said the company was taking its time in considering other major game franchises for film and television, but that there was active discussion on it.
“We’re going to do more but we’re going to move very carefully and thoughtfully,” Sher said. “We’re going to pick the best medium be it film, TV or shorts – the one that best serves each franchise individually.”
Fast forward to February 2017, and the topic is back on the table.
“Looking into the future, we also see opportunities in areas like linear media and consumer product. We think that this will help deepen connections with the franchise and also expose Overwatch to new audiences,” said Blizzard co-founder and president, Michael Morhaime.
He could be referring to anything when saying “linear” media, but Activision Blizzard’s recent openness to television with the success of Skylanders Academy on Netflix suggests Overwatch could very well make the transition.
Further, his comments regarding more products to help “deepen connections” with players and the world suggests there’s quite a lot in the pipeline. Considering the success and popularity of the animated shorts, it would be crazy not to consider the IP for television and/or film.
There’s definitely something happening with Overwatch lore.
A post on Battle.net asked if the lore was dead, and it generated quite the response from the community, being heavily upvoted and attracting the attention of the folks at Blizzard HQ.
“We haven’t even touched the surface of what’s going on or the history of anything,” the fan writes. “The last bits we got were the Christmas comic, but it didn’t tell us anything.
“It just kind of feels empty as of now.”
Michael Chu, the lead writer on Overwatch, reached out to the community in response, confirming that more story content was on the way for the game’s universe.
“We’re all excited to continue to explore the world of Overwatch,” he said. “[We] are hard at work creating new story content for the year, which should hopefully start to roll out in the very near future. Stay tuned!”
Overwatch looks set to be the next big thing in eSports, and Blizzard is hellbent on investing and growing it to make it more accessible and watchable for fans.
“We want to create new ways for players to engage with the franchise through the Overwatch League,” Morhaime said. “eSports is growing, but the ecosystem isn’t always easy to navigate for players, viewers, or teams.”
To address this, Blizzard created the Overwatch League.
“So with the Overwatch League,” Morhaime continued, “we’re working very hard to address those challenges. Our focus is on creating stability and participation for teams and owners, and accessibility of the content for fans.”
The Overwatch League stands as the definitive eSports league: permanent teams, no relegation, player salaries and incentives. It’s been called a “pro sports league” for eSports, and it may just help propel pro gaming into the mainstream arena (if it isn’t already there).
New heroes, maps, seasonal events and game modes
So far we’ve received two new maps, and two new characters in Sombra and Ana.
The reveal process for Sombra was long and tedious, and Blizzard appears to be taking the same approach with Doomfist.
Fans rightfully just want more lore — and they seem to be getting it — but the drawn-out process just makes the need for a deeper approach to the Overwatch world’s story all the more important.
Year Of The Rooster game mode, Capture The Rooster, will be added as a permanent mode in Arcade. What else is on the horizon?
“Our plan is to continue evolving Overwatch with new hero and map content, new game modes, and additional events,” Morhaime said.
So that’s the plan for Overwatch moving forward. Are you looking forward to the Overwatch League? What else would you like to see come to the game and community? Sound off in the comments below!