Overwatch has now been out for over half a year and it shows no signs of either stopping or losing its popularity. But, as nothing lasts forever just how long does Overwatch have before we all move on to something else?
Most games have a finite amount of peak playing time. A period of time where 90% of players are going to play the game before they complete it, get bored with it or something better comes along. For standalone or single player games this can range from days to a few months depending on the consistency of the DLC that becomes available. Multiplayer games and MMO’s are a little trickier to figure out. However, all games end and in the case of multiplayer games, it’s often when the number of players playing the game isn’t enough to warrant the support of the servers running the game or the developers working on the game.
It’s important to keep people playing, and in order to secure that you’re going to need to ensure the games stay as fresh as possible, and this is all down by way of patches, updates and DLC’s. Blizzard Entertainment has certainly been generous with their Overwatch updates. In over six months we have already had two holiday events, and two new characters, which equates to a huge number of skins, voice lines, emotes and god-knows how many tweaks, bug fixes and hero changes.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s no issue with the volume of content they’re releasing, and I’m certainly not complaining about it, but this approach cannot work indefinitely. Ok, the holiday event updates will always be popular, that’s shown to be true in any number of other Blizzard Entertainment games. These won’t work in themselves though, people won’t hang around playing a game simply waiting for the next event patch.
The introduction of new characters is also problematic. Sure, a new character is always fun and it does temporarily breach new live into the game as everyone has to learn to both lay with and against the new hero, but for each hero introduced you then have the mammoth task of trying to balance it with an ever-increasing amount of heroes. Plus what number of heroes is actually too many? Is 50 different heroes too many? What about 100?
eSports will always continue to drum up some enthusiasm for the game, but for the majority of the player-base.
In short, at some point Blizzard are going to have to make the decision to introduce something that could potentially split the player-base just to keep the game from going stale. What this will end up being, I don’t know. A single-player mode, crafting, character evolution, it’s difficult to say but I genuinely cannot see Overwatch Surviving through to 2018 if it remains the same game just with a full calendar of holiday events and a handful of new characters.
I guess, we’ll have to wait and see.