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HomeArticlesGuest PostJeff Kaplan, Lead Game Designer for Overwatch eSports from 2016 to 2022

Jeff Kaplan, Lead Game Designer for Overwatch eSports from 2016 to 2022

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Sounds encouraging, but is it worth believing these words? 

At the moment in Overwatch eSports, 8 out of 10 matches in matchmaking you will meet accounts of level 25 (this is the level you need to fill in regular matches to be able to calibrate), this can happen at any rating – from the lowest “Bronze” where this player can to be just a beginner who bought the game yesterday and is just learning the mechanics, up to the conditional “Master”, where, logically, the strongest players should be, and the chance that someone bought the game a couple of days ago, and today is playing against those who pay game every day for five years – well, to put it mildly, extremely small.

However, there is still no system in the game that would somehow fight against smurfing. Binding to a phone number, increasing the limit on playing in matchmaking from level 25 to 100, reporting for smurfing, systems capable of identifying a surfer using abnormal statistics for low ranks, and speeding up his rating so that he ruins as few games as possible – total This hasn’t happened in 5 years. Although in 2020, Jeff Kaplan again spoke about this problem and already approached the issue more seriously:

Smurfing is different – and not always bad. For example, when a person bought a second account to play in a different role or with other friends. Or he started a second account for anonymity.

Another thing is when smurfing is used for boosting, draining games, or trying to cheat the matchmaking system – this is bad and infuriating. We as developers hate this. We are dealing with this problem (I cannot say what exactly we are doing, otherwise these measures will become ineffective). We want to correct this situation and make sure that such cases are detected better.

I like the idea of ​​linking an account to a phone number… of course, it will not be able to solve the problem 100%, but it still helps. And I always insist that this problem needs to be dealt with more. But there are some difficulties and some players feel that they are being infringed. And the problem of smurfing is complicated by the rules for creating accounts on consoles

It looks like he wants to do something, but he’s not sure. And of course, nothing but these words followed, today the problem still exists and is developing every day, moreover, it has already entered the culture of the game and has become a kind of meme. In the vastness of matchmaking, you can meet players with Blizzard trolling nicknames from the category “account47”, “smurf”, “season27lol”, each of these accounts at the lowest possible level usually has a rank of “Platinum” or higher – this is a very common occurrence that I have encountered hundreds of times.

But not every smurf creates an account for the sake of mocking weak players, the culture of accounts for “training heroes” is also common in OW. Do you want to learn a new hero? Well, don’t train him on your rating and lose precious MMR, it’s better to buy the game again at the next discount, open matchmaking, and go spamming your new hero. Maybe he doesn’t enter your draft and you lose the game to them? Or do teammates tearfully ask you to take something else, because you play it so-so? Few of these people are concerned about these issues, they do not lose anything on their main account by losing this game, which means they will continue to do this.

Of course, adding regular smurfs to the “training heroes” smurf type will give us a nasty experience from matchmaking (and sometimes even unranked, because they still need to upgrade their accounts), and this does not happen occasionally, but every game. Yes, and Blizzard themselves do not want to deal with this problem – to create a new account, you need to buy the game again.

Overwatch 2. How To Justify Your Inaction

  • Salvation Or Death?

 The very announcement of Overwatch 2 was received ambiguously – there are already quite a few movements in the game compared to any other game services that are on the market in 2020, and Blizzard directly tells the remaining players in OW: “Well, you sit down, wait a couple of years.  But then there will be something!”.  Hopes for new heroes, maps, perhaps for the first time in 5 years of new events – all this shattered into pieces with the announcement of the second part.

Jeff Kaplan started telling us how it just so happened that Overwatch was getting a lot less content after 2018, not because they just didn’t make it, but because all the effort was put into OW2.  But what does it matter to a consumer who plays the game here and now?  Why should people get in the position of limiting themselves to the content they could ALREADY GET, simply because Blizzard decided to release everything in one big update in a couple of years (of course not just like that, but because in this form it can also be sold)?

The “innovations” themselves that we are offered look more like strained attempts to make changes for the sake of changes, to create the illusion that this is really something new, and not just a global update that should have been released all those years without normal support for the game – just in smaller pieces:  change the interface in this patch, add a mechanically new map here, and update the hero models here.

We haven’t been able to make new events for 4 years, but these freckles.. wasn’t it worth it?

And the PvE component of Overwatch 2 generally put many into a stupor. Many times on the forums, the idea of ​​adding some kind of talent system to the PvP component of the game, developing the idea of ​​​​variability (as an example, giving each hero a choice of 2 ultimates, at one point this was implemented by Symmetra) was discussed, but Blizzard gave it all away  PvE mode OW2. Although it seems to me that allowing the player to strengthen the character during the game by leveling up the team level – as it was already in another Blizzard game, Heroes of the Storm can be quite a good solution to the balance problem that we talked about earlier, because if the player does not can implement a weak hero, then with a certain talent he will at least be useful for his team.

There is still little information about OW2, Jeff Kaplan promised to share the news after the recent Blizzcon, but since then in 3 months we have not received any information.  Perhaps it’s too early to say a lot, but one thing is for sure – they presented the game poorly, it’s not yet clear who needs it except for Blizzard themselves.  Will players who buy OW primarily as a competitive PvP game be happy to play PvE?  Big question.  The same question is whether the audience of PvE fans in OW is so large that they will gladly buy a sequel precisely because of this mode (all updates regarding PvP will go to players for free).

But the failed sales of OW2 can most likely lead to the tragic death of the franchise – the game is monetized only from sales, the loot box system in the game does not motivate them to buy.  While one thing is good, new OW lead game designer Aaron Keller said in a recent interview:

We have 60 million players who love the PvP aspect of the game. Therefore, we have to make the best version of this team shooter

Aaron Keller To Develop Pvp In A Pvp Game

 Moreover, Aaron promised some innovations for OW1 shortly.  Will this help the game or will online continue to fall without the release of OW2 – we will find out during this year.

Outcome

I love Overwatch and I want this game to continue to live.  It has a chic design, unique gameplay, and in principle, a beautiful visual that makes this game so popular.  But right now the game is going through a difficult period and Blizzard needs to do something before the release of OW2 to retain at least the remaining audience and breathe life into the game.  But so far everything is going to the fact that the game will turn into another “non-existent” game – like the same “Warcraft 3: Reforged” or “Heroes of the Storm”.

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