Overwatch is the fastest growing franchise on Blizzard‘s highly-touted roster of games for a number of reasons, but the multiplayer game has achieved its popularity largely on the back of the way it is constantly being tinkered with. Blizzard’s team of Overwatch developers never seems satisfied with the game’s multiplayer balancing, a fact that hasn’t been lost on the Overwatch‘s fanbase – players regularly expect updates to fix what they perceive to be egregious problems with online play.
Just how Blizzard approaches balancing in Overwatch has long been a mystery, however. People have pointed to bizarre statistics in the game’s past as evidence that it isn’t necessarily a consistent process, including a point in time where one character, Symmetra, had a staggering win percentage advantage over every other character but was left largely untouched. There is a method to Blizzard’s constant balancing updates, however, and Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan was able ot shed some light on the team’s philosophy in a recent interview with Eurogamer:
“We do what I talk about as a balance triangle. So on the one tip of the triangle is statistics, [and] on the other two points are the player sentiment and then our own feeling and intuition, and sometimes all three of those align and you can just see a problem straight up.”
Essentially, what Kaplan is saying is that there are three key factors in any balancing decision Blizzard makes, and that the only decisions they consider to be obvious ones are those that are fixing something having a negative impact on all three points of the balance triangle. Kaplan was quick to expound on that scenario being rare, however, and suggested that there isn’t a set formula to any of the decisions made by Blizzard that don’t align with all three points.
It’s some nice insight into the inner workings of Overwatch, something that is becoming more common as the game approaches its one year anniversary. While Kaplan’s answer and explanation won’t be the absolute law of development fans were hoping to hear and understand, it at least explains some of the stranger decisions that have happened during online play balancing for Overwatch.
Kaplan’s honesty about the balancing process is a smart move on Blizzard’s part, too, given that the company is ramping up to take Overwatch to the next level. With the Overwatch League looming large on the horizon of the eSports scene, making the title seem as transparent as possible on all fronts is a quick way to establish legitimacy for a profession that is still finding its footing in popular culture.
Overwatch is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.