Director’s Take – Building on Feedback

As many of you know, two weeks ago, there were a series of changes made to the Overwatch team, as well as other teams across Blizzard. Writing a public blog is difficult in the wake of these events. I want to express gratitude for the absolutely amazing people who worked on our game that are no longer on our team. I want the community to feel informed, and I want to convey our excitement about what is to come in Season 9. To be honest, it’s a lot to balance – but one of the things we’ve been most proud of is how we’ve kept lines of communication open between the team and our community, and we intend to continue that.

In that spirit, yesterday, we shared the exciting changes you are going to experience with Competitive starting in Season 9. I’d like to give a bit more insight into why we are making these changes. In our previous Director's Take, we talked about improving the game’s core PvP experience. There are different ways that we look at improving the game, but one of the biggest is listening to your feedback.

Season 9 starts in less than a week, and the two biggest and best changes coming to the season and a lot of it is driven by feedback from you – our players along with our team’s vision to make the game more fun and challenging for everyone.

The first is the reworked Competitive system, and there is a lot of improvements to rank transparency, new skill tiers, and new competitive rewards. We started talking publicly about this in September when we referenced a video that summarized many of the problems that existed with the current system. Some of these were:
 

  • Updates to a player's rank were too infrequent.

  • It was difficult to understand why a player ranked up or down and by how much.

  • Some divisions, like GM1, had players with too large a range of skill in them.

  • Golden Weapons were no longer appealing.

Our top goal with this rework is to make the system easier to understand. The old system hid too much information from players and gave it to them too infrequently. This is why we’re updating your rating after every match as well as including additional information, through modifiers, about why your rating went up or down a certain amount. Including the division range of all the players on the VS screen is another way that we’re trying to give you more information about a particular match.

With the system being easier to understand, players will have more incentive to get better and climb the ranks. We’d like players to have this incentive and the opportunity to earn new rewards. Competitive points will now be awarded more consistently as opposed to a large drop at the end of a season, and you can use them to unlock our new Jade weapons! There’s also a whole new, incredibly exclusive tier above Grandmaster, called Champion.

We've already started receiving feedback on the system and are planning a series of improvements giving more information about player skill in a match, allowing players from different divisions to play with each other more easily, and improvements to the Top 500 experience. Some of these should start rolling out in the middle of Season 9 and continue consistently after that.

Season 9 will also include a really large set of exciting changes to the overall gameplay of Overwatch - not just in the form of balance to heroes but in some of the core mechanics of the game too.

These changes are meant to address a few common topics we hear from the community:

  • Make shooting feel better and more consistent.

  • Reduce the effectiveness of both burst damage and in-combat healing.

  • Give Damage heroes more agency in securing eliminations.

We've made changes to address each one of these. We've added health to all heroes in the game in order to reduce the effect of burst damage, as well as reduce the number of heroes that can effectively one-shot each other. In addition, we've made most of the projectiles in the game slightly larger, which makes it easier to land a shot on other players. This was partially done to compensate for the health increase - to spread damage out to make it feel more consistent. Additionally, Overwatch is a fast-paced game, our heroes are incredibly nimble, and landing shots can feel inconsistent.

We've also added a new passive to the Damage Role that decreases healing done to players that they've damaged recently. The idea here is to give Damage players an increased ability to secure kills as well as to mitigate the abilities of Support heroes to keep targets alive. This should also give Damage heroes an advantage when facing off against Supports.

This is an impressive set of changes that will shake up the meta in all sorts of thrilling ways. The team will be following the launch of Season 9 very closely and is planning on doing quick updates based on what we see… and the feedback that we get from all of you!

Speaking of feedback, there are a few other systems that players have been talking about recently that we'll respond to in future Director's Takes and blog pieces this season. The first is our Quick Play: Hacked event, and we'll have more updates in the weeks and months to come. I can't wait to share our thoughts on those with all of you.

On the Overwatch team, we end our weekly meetings by saying “Let’s make a great game.” It’s a recognition that everyone on the team has the ability to influence our game and make it better. We’ve always worked to incorporate feedback from all of you into the development of the game. So, it’s fitting that in light of all the changes we’re making to our game, based off of all the feedback we hear, that we start including all of you in our team’s pledge.

Thanks for reading, and let’s make a great game!