Jeff Kaplan Explains How the Overwatch Development Team Deals with Player Fatigue
Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan recently discussed how the Overwatch development team handles player fatigue over two years out from release.
In this age of multiplayer, online-only, games-as-a-service titles, it has become more important than ever for multiplayer games to combat player fatigue and make sure players stick around. If an online-only game doesn’t have players, there isn’t much one can do to save it. Over the last year alone we’ve seen many titles falter and shut down outright only months after launch; in fact, I even wrote an editorial recently analyzing why several multiplayer games have failed over the past year.
Blizzard’s Overwatch is one game that has managed to stay very relevant since its release in 2016, and Jeff Kaplan recently explained what the development team does to make sure player fatigue never sets in to Kotaku. Of course, being a highly regarded AAA shooter helps, but even multiplayer games that are successful at launch can see their player base dwindle over time.
Jeff Kaplan sees this more so as an ebb and flow. Players may leave temporarily to play the latest Call of Duty with their friends, but the development team also work hard to keep the game enticing enough with new content to keep players coming back:
“I always think of the type of game Overwatch is—competitive 6v6 action shooter—it’s the type of game that players are gonna ebb and flow in and out of. I think that’s very natural. I think that’s very good for players, and it’s good for us—to have players not obsessing, like, all they ever do is play Overwatch…
I think sometimes players panic when it’s like ‘Oh, my friends are playing Call of Duty this month’. It’s OK. Call of Duty is brand new, and it’s super awesome. We’re playing it too. Then we come back and play Overwatch and do our placements.”
That being said, there have been some times over the course of Overwatch’s lifespan where that wasn’t the case and not as many players as expected returned. In those cases, the Overwatch development team analyzed what they aren’t introducing or developing that might possibly entice new players and then decide to focus on that:
It’s a fairly solid strategy that has kept the Overwatch fan based unfatigued and happy for the most part. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Diablo franchise which was recently at the center of a major controversy over the announcement of Diablo Immortal for iOS and Android.
Overwatch is currently available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and can be picked up on Amazon. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the game’s Lead Writer and Character Designer from BlizzCon on Overwatch’s newest character: Ashe.
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