Understanding the 'Overwatch' Hype: Why is Blizzard's New Shooter Such A Big Hit?

There is a lot of hype surrounding Blizzard's latest online team shooter, Overwatch. Even when was just in its early beta stages, fans grew steadily in number, eagerly awaiting the game's release. There is a lot of raving leading up to the launch date. So what makes Overwatch one of the highly anticipated games of the year?

Forbes' Paul Tassi commented that he has never seen a lead-up to a game like this before. He pointed out that despite being a new IP, Overwatch is so well received even before the game even launched officially. He attributed this level of hype to the characters, paving the way for countless fan arts. Even cosplayers are jumping in the Overwatch bandwagon, recreating the costumes and portraying their favorite characters. Most of these people have not even played the game yet.

Overwatch director Jeffrey Kaplan explained the elements of the growing Overwatch fandom in an interview with Time.

"The predominant focus of the game is on really deep, exciting heroes and the cool abilities and the epic, over-the-top battles they have," Kaplan said. "The game is what we call a team-based shooter, and that means you're always playing with and against real people."

"The real focus of the shooting in the game is not to chase realism," he added. "We don't have real world guns in the game. You're not playing a soldier in a present-day military conflict. The game tries to stretch the imagination of . . . almost like what would these heroes be if you thought of them more as superheroes, and what would superheroes with guns look like."

Kaplan also said that the game is inspired not just by new-generation shooter games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, but also by old-school shooters like Quake and Doom. "The shooter's a celebrated genre that's been around for decades, and we wanted to take inspiration from the whole thing, not just one era."

Kaplan also described the game's appeal to a wider audience. "We don't start out casual, but once we've had that core of deep, rich, re-playable gameplay, we look at other ways of expanding the audience and going 'How could we make this more approachable to people?'"

Blizzard made sure that the game attracts not just hardcore players of shooter games, but beginners as well. "So we designed things like one hero's gun having a lock-on beam, or another's that doesn't require precise aim but has more of a cone attack that could hit any enemy without having to be precise with crosshairs," Kaplan explained. "We added healing classes that don't require precise aim to do their healing. So a player who's never played a shooter before, or was more familiar with team-based games like a MOBA, could instantly come in and be effective and contribute to their team, even if they lacked the twitch skill to put crosshairs over targets downrange."

Fans of the game predict a bright future for Overwatch, and under Blizzard's wing, there are high hopes of keeping the fandom alive for many years to come.

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