OPINION – Blizzard’s Overwatch released earlier this week, and it managed to achieve two things out of the box. First, the game made its rival, Gearbox’s Battleborn, drop its price just weeks after its launch, and also millions of players are spending time with Blizzard’s FPS. Is it a good omen to become a popular e-Sport game in the future?
Blizzard needs the money. They have World of Warcraft, which is the second best-selling title on the PC. However, since 2010, its subscriber base has dropped by fifty percent to the point where Blizzard doesn’t publish the figures anymore.
They made other games since then, but their focus is now on Overwatch – is it a different approach from the devs? Sure: we didn’t get a third-person game; instead, Overwatch uses a first-person perspective, as well as being a new IP, the first in eighteen years for Blizzard.
The developers predict that it is going to get a lot of attention, especially if it becomes an e-Sports game. Dr. Mark Johnson, games researcher at the University of York, says that in 2015, 200 million people watched professional gaming competitions, which handed out over 200 million dollars of prizes.
There is money, as well as potential, in e-Sports. No wonder that Call of Duty has its championship, and even WRC games started to go in this direction.
What about the future?
Overwatch has the chance to keep the attention of players in the long term: during open tests, almost ten million players downloaded the game to try it out. There are good vibes for Overwatch from the community. Blizzard‘s challenge lies within long-term popularity. It’s going to be hard for them to catch up to Counter-Strike.
Blizzard wasn’t behind first-person shooter games in a way as seen with Overwatch, while Valve has a ton of experience under their belt: Half-Life, Team Fortress 2, as well as CS.
Overwatch can go down the free-to-play route, but Blizzard stated that it is not going to happen anytime soon: pay for it on all three platforms. (That’s an advantage, though: while CS isn’t available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Blizzard‘s game is out there – CS: GO is available for PS3 and X360 at the moment.). What Blizzard has to figure out is the way to get non-interested players to give their game a shot. That would also include me: while I don’t say that Overwatch is terrible, I just don’t find it interesting, mainly because that I do not play multiplayer games.
Still, Blizzard should think in the long run for now: they have succeeded in the short term, but Valve might see the tides turn in their favor by the end of 2016 unless Overwatch can show something exciting. Battleborn seems to be defeated already, so that’s one enemy out of the way. Can Blizzard overcome Valve? Maybe they can!