Overwatch loves to give players cookies for explosive plays. After every game, all players are treated to a recap of the “Play of the Game,” a video replay that usually only focuses on whatever killed the most people. It’s a feature that has been desperately in need of a revamp since Overwatch’s release two years ago, but despite Blizzard’s previous promises, that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.
As a game about teamwork—with several heroes whose big contributions don’t look like exploding RIP-tires—Overwatch misses the mark when it only rewards big-kill plays. When Play of the Game values a kill streak over, say, a clutch heal or someone actually staying on the payload, it teaches Overwatch players that the most important part of the game is eliminations.
This is something devs have said they’d fix for over a year and a half, with Blizzard telling Kotaku in November 2016 that Play of the Game 2.0 was in the works. But at a press conference today, the Overwatch team still could not provide an ETA on the much-anticipated “Play of the Game” rework.
Today, during a call between Blizzard’s developers and reporters, Kotaku asked for an update on Play of the Game 2.0. Overwatch principal designer Scott Mercer said this: “It’s still on our list of something something we do want to improve. There are features that, essentially, we’ve prioritized other things ahead of them. We don’t like to set up a plan and follow that plan to the letter. One of the cool things about our development process is that we do allow ourselves to change those plans as the community changes, as we do get feedback.”
Mercer summarized himself, saying that Play of the Game 2.0 is “something we still think would be really cool but we’ve been prioritizing other things ahead of it.”
Play of the Game’s shortcomings are easily explained by something that happened to me a few times last week. Playing the hero Zarya, I used my ultimate ability at just the right moment to ensnare five teammates into a closely-knit cluster. Then, a teammate would use their ultimate ability—Pharah’s rocket barrage or Junkrat’s RIP tire—to get a bunch of convenient kills. Then we’d win the point. Zarya’s ability is meant to be done in coordination with other heroes’. Yet I was the one who noticed the enemies moving together in a crucial moment. I made the calculation that it would be an ideal time to secure the point. And I’d tell the other person to use their ability on top of mine. Yet, they would be featured in the Play of the Game.
I’m not salty. Okay, I’m a little salty. But there are a lot of ways to be good at Overwatch that don’t involve getting kills or doing tons of damage. Glorifying good team-based plays, like Lucio holding down a payload in overtime, would help hammer the message that being good at a team game means playing as a team. Back in November 2016, after months of player complaints, lead hero designer Geoff Goodman told Kotaku that “there’s a plan to do what we’re calling Play of the Game 2.0. . . It’s been on the books for a little while. It’s just a matter of prioritizing everything. We have a lot of really cool ideas. We want to do a lot with the camera work. We have ideas for cooperative Play of the Games. Because what we have right now, is Zarya could ult, and then Genji gets the credit. And that’s like, ‘Come on!’”
Same, Geoff. Same.