The gaming industry is evolving at a faster pace today, gaming professionals are more inclined towards a trend of cross-platform games. This has put out the question for Blizzard Entertainment regarding Overwatch whether to introduce cross-platform gameplay.
It’s a Feature in Many Other Games
What has pivoted this approach is the changing trend in the market, and many other ranked games have introduced this feature already although the user base of the game is very huge. An increasing number of platforms are giving their users the option to get a uniform gameplay experience.
Overwatch is a “team-based, multiplayer first-person shooter”, each player having the option of selecting from more than 30 characters. Released in 2016 to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the game works by creating control points across the map, which the players (using a team) defend and secure, within a certain amount of time. The initial release was a “casual” game, which later had features added to it i.e. ranking modes, arcade gaming, player-centric server browser; characters, maps and further modes added over time.
Console and PC adoption for the game has had a major impact of its user base and has significantly increased the playtime for the game. Although it has been debated widely, cross-platform restrictions are not limited to Nintendo but other platforms i.e. PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, and many other community platforms. Overwatch Nintendo Edition released on 15th October 2019 includes 31 heroes and 28 maps from other game releases.
According to producer Wes Yanagi, currently is it difficult to implement cross-platform functionality into the game, and in future updates, this is being reviewed. He concluded by saying that nothing further to be shared. On October 1st, 2019, Sony has opened their platform for cross-play, and blizzard entertainment is interested in exploring options to bring Overwatch to the platform, moving from beta to live release. The company says that there is a lot of work to be done on the game regarding the development of cross-system play in the game.
With the increasing availability of games on different platforms notably Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Paladins: Champions of the Realm, it is becoming a norm within the industry for the games to become cross-platform. Although Sony has introduced support for the game, it is not likely for the game to become cross-platform anytime soon. As of this day, the official statement at Blizzard Entertainment is that Overwatch (source) is not cross-platform i.e. online gaming platforms cannot be integrated across. If the game is played on Switch, and the user switches to another platform; start from scratch rather than have cross-platform availability.
Overwatch 2: What is next?
Blizzard has confirmed important updates within the gaming ecosystem of Overwatch, as it is the game to introduce a competitive model for gameplay. An interview with Jeff Kaplan (Game Director) reveals the sequel is to be released with the functionality of Cross-Platform. What we gather from his response is that the team is very much interested in introducing cross-platform features to the game; future releases will have such vision realized.
Introducing the cross-platform features change the ecosystem of the game completely, making the users more flexibility in their gameplay across platforms. This would mean more engaging gameplay and next-generation multiplayer concept to be implemented.
Another major benefit would be for the user regarding the availability of all their progress details everywhere. PC users have a significant advantage in the gameplay due to keyboard and mouse option. You can also use services such as Overwatch boosting provider. Apex Legends (source) is planning on keeping PC users separate from the console, as according to them it gives an advantage over console users. The development team will have to offer a better experience for the user base i.e. PC, Console, and Mobile. Although it is a turf with greater challenges of the strike, the more platforms should consider this.
The Cross-Platform Adoption
The cross-platform adoption comes with limitations to the platforms. Due to fact that currently Nintendo supports 30 FPS, while PlayStation and Xbox currently have 60 FPS; improvement is subject to new iterations in the gaming market trend. Overwatch 2 is planned for both PvE and PvP environment, debuting at some point in late 2021; platform support of PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X.
Judging from the upcoming changes with the current market, it is no secret that Overwatch is facing challenges in the market with many other titles, discussed above, including the release of Halo Infinite; the more competitive market trend is expected. Few games with cross-platform feature introduction came under controversy e.g. Rocket League and Fortnite. The current COVID-19 pandemic situation has caused delays in the development of Overwatch 2, and a definite response from developers is yet to be expected. Certain upgrades such as graphical upgrades, and character model changes.
The new game will introduce a 6v6 mode called “Push”, the purpose will serve of gaining dominance by gaining robot markers on the map. The team victory is based either on the number of points gained or the most robot markers gained towards the enemy territory. Overwatch 2 will introduce a mix of gameplay options i.e. Quickplay, Competitive, and the Overwatch League. Additionally, the previous progress of the game will be transferred to the new game when the user purchased the second version i.e. all the stats, loot, skins etc. will be transferred to Overwatch 2 from Overwatch.
The new game will introduce hero progression giving the players the ability to upgrade their characters by giving them “Talents” from the Overwatch, when they are transferred to the new game; a big change from Overwatch, which only allowed cosmetic upgrades. The “Talents” feature is only available for all PvE modes but will not be part of the PvP competition. Michael Chu, the original Overwatch writer will be departing from the company; announcement March 11th, 2020. He has not given any reason for departure but has expressed views to write for games that unite people.