Paladins' Developers Deny Cloning Overwatch

Not Torbjorn and Reinhardt
Not Torbjorn and Reinhardt

Paladins, a video game that looks very much like Overwatch, has taken some heat for its similarities to Blizzard’s popular team shooter—to the point where last night one of Paladins’ top developers felt compelled to write a big ol’ Reddit post explaining how it isn’t a clone at all.


In the Reddit post, Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris lays out a timeline of Paladins’ development and its connections to the studio’s older games. “We created almost all the Paladins classes and abilities using Global Agenda and Smite as our template,” he writes. “While Overwatch is a fine game, we want people to understand that game development is an iterative process with many ideas coming from past projects. This is true for Hi-Rez and almost every other game studio. For a hero shooter, the game that deserves the most credit for the genre is [Team Fortress 2].”

Many began discussing the uncanny similarities between Paladins and Overwatch last week, when Hi-Rez Studios’ free-to-play shooter entered open beta. Many of Paladins’ heroes—like the dwarf who builds turrets and the tank who uses a chain to pull over enemies—look a whole lot like the characters we’ve been playing in Overwatch for the past few months. A viral video by YouTuber videogamedunkey summed things up nicely (and hilariously):

There’s some desperation in the Reddit post, but it lays out a compelling case, complete with video footage of early Paladins hero concepts from way before Blizzard announced Overwatch.

Unfortunately for Paladins, they’re late to the party: Overwatch has become a cultural phenomenon. No matter how much inspiration Hi-Rez did or didn’t take from Blizzard’s hero shooter, Overwatch is one of the year’s biggest (and best) games. The comparisons and accusations are impossible to avoid. Sometimes it’s just about being first. And being Blizzard.


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It’s the same thing with movie studios. There’s been many an occasion where you’ll get what’s essentially two versions of the same movie coming out within months of each other. I think the most recent example is White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen, which both deal with the White House getting attacked by terrorists.

All in all, I think the bottom line is that neither Overwatch or Paladins are wholly original. Blizzard mishmashed a lot of tropes and borrowed from things that borrowed from other things, and made it work with a lot of polish. Paladins has the unfortunate distinction of not becoming widely known until after Overwatch came out, when it did the same thing Overwatch did (which is, take things from other things. Some from Overwatch, but also taking things from the same things Overwatch took their things from).

Now, there is some valid criticisms because the game’s mechanics have changed in the closed betas to be more like Overwatch’s, which is the fault of the fanbase, as there had seemeed to be an even split with those who wanted free-to-play Overwatch, and those who wanted Paladins to be its own thing. Obviously, the ones that wanted a more Overwatch feel won out, for better or worse. But at teh very least, when it comes to character designs, Hi-Rez and Blizzard are in the same boat, “guilty” of the same thing (though that’s not a bad thing; there are rarely any original ideas anymore, now everything is a spin-off of an idea).