Illustration by Sam Woolley.

Angel-winged Mercy having sex with the devilish Reaper. Spunky mech pilot D.Va pleasuring herself in front of a webcam. Blindingly speedy Tracer caught in Widowmaker’s web. Overwatch porn has been all over the Internet for months, though the game’s creators at Blizzard don’t seem to eye it too favorably.

(Warning: Definitely NSFW.)

Users of the online site Pornhub have searched for Overwatch porn more than 600,000 times this calendar year. There are more than 700 Overwatch porn animations. It’s gotten so popular that even the game’s developer, Blizzard, has taken notice. All this before the game was even released.

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It’s not unusual for people to make porn of video games. Seemingly, the more popular the game, the more people want to see porn related to it. On Pornhub, the most popular video game-related porn search is Minecraft followed by Halo, Clash of Clans, and Call of Duty, according to the site’s VP, Corey Price. That list indicates that the most widely perused video game porn involves games people typically play for competitive multiplayer rather than character-driven stories. Perhaps it’s a matter of simple metrics. Those games are so widely played, they might overwhelm porn searches tied to single-player games with sheer volume. But Overwatch porn combines the popularity of a multiplayer game with the character-rich nature of a single-player one, and this makes it perfect for porn.

Sex (With Personality) Sells

Overwatch makes for good porn for the same reason it makes for a good game. It’s got a colorful cast of characters whose visual styles pop with personality. Simply looking at Tracer, Widowmaker, or Genji gives you an immediate idea of what they’re like. It’s in everything, from their clothes to their poses to Genji’s remarkably underrated butt. (Sorry, Tracer.) They’re packed with personality. They’re expressive. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a higher-than-average number of lady characters, and many of them are thin and wear skin-tight clothing. Rule 34 about people making porn out of things on the internet certainly is in effect with Overwatch.

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“I was drawn to do Overwatch porn because its characters ooze, well, character,” said an artist who goes by the handle Tsoni, who claims to have gotten into the video game porn scene because of an interest in 3D animation. A model for the Overwatch character Widowmaker caught their eye last fall and got them making longer, more story-driven videos about Overwatch characters hooking up. Tsoni really likes the characters. “They’re expressive, have a unique look, and their models are high quality, which makes them a joy to animate.”

Overwatch porn is also pretty easy to make, which goes a long way in helping it proliferate. A lot of video game porn is made in Valve’s Source Filmmaker, a tool that allows people to animate high quality 3D scenes quickly and intuitively. “Aside from the popularity and character design, there’s also the fact that literally anybody can do their own porn animations by downloading the software that most artists use for this,” one of the heads of OverwatchHentai.net, who goes by Richard, told me.

The Source Filmmaker community is built around the sharing of assets, nude models included. You don’t need to be a professional artist to make Overwatch porn–you can just download what you need and get right to the meat of it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to make good porn, but you’ll definitely have naked video game characters joyously clipping their junk into each other in no time.

Credit: Eddy Productions.

It also helps that the character models were available long before the game’s launch. Overwatch entered closed beta late last year, and some Source filmmakers took to ripping character models straight from the game, Tsoni told me. It began with clothed characters getting it on in the barest of fashions, but Source Filmmaker users soon created custom models with ripped clothes, pieces of clothing removed, and of course, nude models. Despite all this, a lot of Overwatch porn is still fairly rudimentary, taking the form of loops that last a few seconds. However, creators like Tsoni have begun to experiment with longer and more elaborate story content.

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Only a select few people in the video game porn community have actually played Overwatch yet. “Many people in the SFM porn community play video games, and so a lot of people were excited for Overwatch,” said Tsoni. “But they couldn’t play it, so I suppose making porn of it is the next best thing. This sort of thing doesn’t happen often, because people don’t usually get access to models before a game’s release, but it has happened before with Street Fighter V.”

Overwatch’s characters have personality and backstory, but there’s still so much we don’t know about them, both because of their design and because so many people haven’t played the game. They’re foundations to build upon, vessels for the imagination. These are characters we’re meant to embody as players. By design, they can’t be fully fleshed out. There has to be room for player identity.

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Porn also often involves projection onto a pre-established actor, imagining that you’re the one receiving the lapdance so tantalizing you think you’re gonna lose your mind, or having someone go down on you for 20 minutes (oh the chafing), or getting ravaged by a tentacle monster. That midpoint between developed character and blank slate makes Overwatch characters perfect for porn.

Credit: Ellowas.

Mei x Zarya 5 Ever

A lot of Overwatch porn is bad. Character movements can be unsettlingly rigid, and the sex is shot from amateurish angles with little variation. It quickly becomes rote, repetitive, and unexciting–the exact opposite of what anyone with a pulse wants out of porn. But for every ten clips that suck and/or blow in bad ways, there’s one that sucks and/or blows in good ways.

Most are only a handful of seconds long, meant to loop indefinitely while people jack it. The bad ones are like watching leathery Barbie dolls squirt sunscreen from their genitalia. But the good ones are legitimately sexy. Since many clips are brief, every little bit counts. Bleh’s movies have good small details. Eyes flutter, jaws clench and tremble, and flesh moves roughly 100 times better than it does in any actual video game.

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If you’re not at work, watch this one of D.Va and Hanzo. See how she gazes up at him before sensation overtakes her, forcing her gaze downward? See all the rapid expressions in between? Hanzo’s not exactly being gentle. D.Va’s into it, but there’s a lot of pain mixed with the pleasure. Take notes, Blizzard. That’s called economy of storytelling. No hammy dialogue, either!

Some of the most minimal clips and images tell the best stories. They’re often character traits taken to a logical conclusion of a sort. For instance, here’s a still shot of D.Va cam-whoring. Makes sense, right? She used to be a pro gamer, she probably streamed, and the porn version of streaming is cam-whoring. Is it stereotypical in way that’s kinda shitty to actual women streamers? Sure. But for the purposes of the internal lore logic of porn in the Overwatch universe, it checks out. Here’s another of D.Va getting fucked by a new upgrade to her mech. Sex with machines is common in anime porn. Here, it’s a strong lore-friendly application of a pre-existing trope. But D.Va’s also playful, so here she is sneaking up on Widowmaker (who’s too distracted by sniping to notice) and popping her top off. D.Va is nothing if not a canvas for the soul’s deepest, darkest, robot-fucking-est desires.

Credit: Badcompzero.

Tracer, however, is the most popular character. Of course she is. She’s been in all the marketing, and her butt fell into the crosshair of an overblown but nonetheless telling video game controversy. People think Tracer’s sexy, but in a fun, flirty way. “The most popular characters have to be Tracer and Widowmaker, but it’s not really surprising considering how much of a limelight those characters have gotten in recent gaming news,” said Dickson. Several searches of major porn sites concurred.

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Naturally, Tracer’s been the central subject of some of the most detailed Overwatch porn clips. I’m talking between two and four minutes long, with full sound effects and voice acting. When Tracer porn isn’t straightforward, no-frills fucking, she’s generally portrayed as either fun-loving or submissive. (Unfortunately, women rarely take charge in Overwatch porn, unless they’re having sex with other women.) In this voiced clip, Tracer quips the whole time, not unlike when she’s racing around blasting people, except totally unlike that because she’s having mind-blowing sex. In this especially narrative-driven video by Tsoni, Tracer gets ambushed by Widowmaker (her foil in both Overwatch lore and many porn clips)–lured, trapped, and taken advantage of. The sex itself is a little weak, but the setup offers a tantalizing look at what’s to come for Overwatch porn.

Characters like Pharah, Symettra, and Mercy show up sometimes, but far less frequently. I’ve seen a few clips involving Mei. Zarya–the least “traditionally” (read: what 18-34 year-old straight dudes are into) attractive character–played a major role in one of the most elaborate videos I’ve come across. On the rare occasions she shows up, the muscular Zarya usually pushes around other girls, ultimately revealing that she has a dick. Things sometimes get rapey, something that is, for better or worse, pretty common in animated porn. The contrast between Mei and Zarya’s gentle, loving relationship in the Overwatch shipping community and their sometimes brutal one in the porn community is jarring.

Credit: Tsoni.

It’s still porn, which means it often caters to certain less lore-friendly proclivities. In a detailed breakdown of Overwatch porn searches, Pornhub reported that the third biggest Overwatch-related search term (behind “Overwatch Tracer” and “Cartoon Overwatch”) is “Overwatch Futa.” Futa, short for futanari, is a genre of hentai in which otherwise feminine-looking characters either grow dicks or are revealed to have them. It’s become extremely big in Japanese animated porn, and it’s crossing over into Western creations. Bleh pointed out that futa and other fetishes like bestiality are big moneymakers on Patreon, where a lot of video game porn makers get paid. Into tentacle porn? Monster porn? Don’t worry, you’re gonna be OK. There’s also a fair amount of vanilla (sex between two characters) and Gang Bang (sex between multiple characters) content.

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Overwatch’s male characters show up rarely. If there’s a guy involved, it’s often a Generic Porn Dude model that somebody had lying around. It makes sense: nude models of some characters are still tough to come by.Occasionally you get a fully clothed Genji with his dick out, at which point commenters are quick to question why it’s not part-robot like the rest of him. It’s interesting to consider the futa trend in that light. Did it come about due to the tastes of viewers, or because it was easier for creators to just slap an erect cock on a pre-existing nude of, say, Widowmaker? It’s not like forceful penetration doesn’t fit her personality, either. I mean, she’s a sniper. She’s all about forceful penetration. It is literally her job.

There’s a lot of humor in the nascent Overwatch porn scene. For instance, here is Tracer, bewildered by a forest of butts. And here’s a video of Reaper and Mercy (both tough to find in Overwatch porn so far) going at it, subtitled, “Reaper reaps Mercy’s asshole, showing no mercy.” The game is fun, so why can’t its porn be fun too?

Exposing Your Winston

Overwatch is riding something of a wave right now. Pornhub’s Corey Price told me that cartoon porn–something with which video game porn frequently overlaps–is surging right now. “In 2015,” he said, “we found that searches for ‘futanari’ grew over 400% in Russia, and ‘cartoon’ gained 4 spots to become Pornhub’s fourth most searched for term worldwide.”

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Most Overwatch porn gets posted to places like Tumblr and Reddit’s Rule 34 subreddit. For a while, that’s where it stayed. As Overwatch porn has become more popular, however, people (not necessarily the makers of said porn) have started spreading videos around to large porn-focused sites like Pornhub and Xvideos, which has helped it really take off.

The creators I spoke to don’t seem to mind their work becoming widely available for free, since they either do it for fun or make a little money from Patreon backers. They share a love of smut, but after that, their interests diverge. Some want to tell saucy stories involving their favorite characters. “I love to tell a story,” Dickson said. “It’s what I love the most when I animate. The sex sequences are just a bonus to keep the viewers interested.”

Others want to flex their 3D animation muscles. “I was interested in learning to animate in 3D, not specifically porn, but that’s what I eventually started doing,” said Tsoni. “I found it hard to come up with any ideas to animate or at least, ideas that I could summon the passion to create. However porn was easy to create, it wasn’t time consuming, and it wasn’t hard to come up with an idea for a porn scene.”

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OverwatchHentai’s Richard just needed a summer job. “I am actually 18,” he told me, “and when my mom forced me to get a job this summer I just decided to start a porn site.” He partnered with a more experienced Rule 34 community member, and the rest is history.

Nobody expected it to get this big, but they’re all enjoying the ride. For as long as it lasts, anyway.

Credit: Comandorekin.

Over and Out?

Blizzard is trying to make a game that falls squarely in the PG to PG-13 range, so they’re not exactly helping make all this porn possible.

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According to OverwatchHentai’s Richard, Blizzard has turned up the heat in the weeks leading up to the game’s official launch. “They removed multiple Overwatch models on the Internet for fans to use (both for artistic purposes and porn) via copyright claim,” he claimed. “They shut down some sites dedicated to Overwatch porn. My site got a DMCA notice from a company acting on behalf of Blizzard a few days ago, and there is a chance overwatchhentai.net might shut down.”

Prominent Steam Source Filmmaker community Overwatch SFM backs up these assertions. Starting April 26, multiple members began reporting DMCA takedown notices on their models, most of them not for use in porn. It was likely a copyright thing. However, as of May 16, it seems that Blizzard started to whitelist some models, implying that they’re cool with the general practice, if not the porn that comes of it. In a March interview with Th3Jez, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan said he thought the models were “awesome” and added that he wanted to see more movies made about Overwatch. Porn, however, didn’t come up in the discussion.

The precedent isn’t promising for those hoping for more elaborate Overwatch porn. Prominent maker of brutal video game fetish porn, Studio FOW (who we’ve profiled in the past), allegedly received a cease-and-desist order from Blizzard last year pertaining to a World of Warcraft-related project. Due to that incident and complications that arose from it, Studio FOW’s not rushing to delve into the world of Overwatch porn. “It’s not a process I’m happy to repeat because I have better things to do than argue semantics all day with jumped up, tiny, hypocrite attorneys,” they wrote in a recent Tumblr post. “So yeah, sorry if you don’t get your Overwatch waifus, but there are more important things in life such as looking out for my team and feeding families.”

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At the moment, the Overwatch porn scene is in an uncertain place. Will Blizzard start treating Overwatch porn like it’s treating other Overwatch movie models, or will it continue cracking down? I reached out to Blizzard for comment on all of this, but they’ve yet to reply.

OverwatchHentai’s Richard told me that he’s in the process of gathering prominent Overwatch porn animators to start a petition against Blizzard’s removals, arguing that Overwatch porn counts as transformative fair use. Even if a worst case scenario were to occur, however, Richard doesn’t think the flow of Overwatch porn would stop entirely.

“It would be impossible for Blizzard to remove all trace of Overwatch porn on the Internet,” he said.

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The question, though, is whether or not they’ll try. Blizzard is more open to fan creations these days than they have been in the past, but this is a lot to swallow. Some Overwatch porn might be clever and faithful to the game in its own way, but it still (usually) ends in, you know, sex. Unfortunately, the way people tend to learn of big companies’ policies on things like these is through action, rather than direct communication. I suppose the next few weeks will say a lot about Blizzard, one way or another.