Blizzard is delaying Overwatch‘s planned January closed beta into February in order to add a new game mode, new maps, and polish to the new progress and reward system.
Overwatch‘s closed beta, which began October 27 and later ended December 10, was one of the most tantalizing releases of 2015. Those accepted into the beta played constantly and those as yet unaccepted watched streams instead, and both pre-ordered when purchases went live on November 6. Blizzard pressing pause on the beta was surprisingly well received, as it was delivered with the promise of a quick return in January. Sadly, Blizzard announced a delay today, pushing the closed beta’s return back into February.
Yet even this delay will be unlikely to disappoint the Overwatch faithful, as Game Director James Kaplan also delivered some great news:
“Without getting into specifics, we are working on a new game mode. And we’re very excited about it! And we have some great new maps to support it, too, but we need a little more time to get everything just right.”
The extra weeks of development before bringing the closed beta back online will not only allow Blizzard to implement the new game mode and maps, but also give them time to add “polish to the game’s progress and reward system,” which was by far the most requested feature addition during the initial closed beta. With the extra time, the hope is that Blizzard will deliver a rewards system that is polished and meets the standards expected of such a high profile developer.
Overwatch‘s next closed beta is now tentatively planned for launch in the second half of February, and there are no inklings that it will slip any further. That being said, since the game is planned for launch on or before June 21, Blizzard does have plenty of time to move things around if necessary. That they’re so dedicated to another early closed beta test is testament to their dedication to an aggressive beta schedule. An open beta is almost certain to follow what will hopefully be a long and increasingly large closed beta.
Blizzard is also likely to continue their practice of mixing in open weekends for all players on top of the closed beta. One of the biggest frustrations with the fall 2015 beta was how limited space was, on top of how prevalent the beta happened to be solely among livestreamers. Don’t be surprised if this practice continues, considering how successful the marketing worked out, but hopefully Blizzard recognizes the issue and either widens the beta or has more open beta events.
Currently there is no way to gain access to Blizzard’s upcoming closed beta other than to request access through a Battle.net account. Pre-orderers of Overwatch will be waiting, crossing their fingers, hoping for an invite the same as everyone else.
Overwatch is planned for release on or before June 21 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. No plans for a console closed or open beta have been announced yet.