Overwatch game director Aaron Keller gives more insight into the decision to cancel parts of Overwatch 2's PVE mode, and how the original team's ambition blinded their present day responsibilities.
Blizzard recently decided to cancel Overwatch 2's anticipated Hero Mode, which would have been a significant part of the game's promised PVE content. The move was extremely controversial and has caused mountains of bad press and heated responses from fans.
Now in a recent blog post, Blizzard's Aaron Keller talks more about what happened with Overwatch 2's phase shift. According to Keller, the Overwatch team had always considered itself an MMO team from the onset. This makes sense considering the original hero shooter released in 2016 was a kind of phoenix resurrection of a cancelled MMO-FPS hybrid called Project Titan.
"The Overwatch team, especially at its inception, considered itself an MMO development team.
"As we transitioned away from that original concept and started creating Overwatch, we included plans to one day return to that scope.
"We had a crawl, walk, run plan. Overwatch was the crawl, a dedicated version of PvE was the walk, and an MMO was the run. It was built into the DNA of the team early on, and some of us considered that final game a true realization of the original vision of Project Titan."
Although the team pivoted away from Project Titan to a much more condensed version with the PVP shooter Overwatch, Keller says that Blizzard had always intended on eventually bringing Project Titan back to life. Kellen mentions a progression scheme with three steps: Crawl, walk, run. The plan was to release Overwatch first, which is the crawl period. Then Overwatch 2's dedicated PVE content would be the walk period, and the eventual MMO would be the run.
Keller aptly says that the Overwatch dev team was too focused on the future instead of realizing the breakout hit that they had on their hands. After all, Overwatch become Activision-Blizzard's eighth billion-dollar games franchise in 2017, meaning the game had made over $1 billion in revenues in a years' time.
"We had an exciting but gargantuan vision and we were continuously pulling resources away from the live game in an attempt to realize it. I can't help but look back on our original ambitions for Overwatch and feel like we used the slogan of "crawl, walk, run" to continue to march forward with a strategy that just wasn't working.
"We had an exciting but gargantuan vision and we were continuously pulling resources away from the live game in an attempt to realize it.
I" can't help but look back on our original ambitions for Overwatch and feel like we used the slogan of "crawl, walk, run" to continue to march forward with a strategy that just wasn't working."
Keller says that this new phase shift change of walking back PVE content will be another "moment of change" for Overwatch, and the future "will be born out of" this change.