Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has a history of chiming in on the game forums when players complain about the team-based shooter. A recent gamer’s comment about balance changes in the title being focused solely around pro-level gameplay drew out Jeff Kaplan on Battle.net to briefly explain how his team actually handles balancing.
The meat of the comment Kaplan responded to was, “I know I’m a scrub/noob, but the question is whether or not people like me can enjoy the game when balanced for pros.” Kaplan has seen this type of misunderstanding before, and called these types of statements “tremendous oversimplifications of what our thought process is.” According to the Overwatch game director, the team spends time considering “the ramifications at all levels of play,” both pro and casual, and doesn’t make a balance change without thinking about how it will affect the game at different skill levels. However, he did add that some changes may be more focused on pros, but don’t ignore the implications for casuals, and vice versa.
Overwatch has clearly positioned itself as an eSport, with its competitive mode being a central component of the game. However, the game features fun and lovable characters, has wild game modes, and is pretty easy to get into, so despite its eSport status, it has drawn in a lot of more casual gamers. Blizzard and Kaplan ensuring that changes to Overwatch keep it fun at all levels should work to keep the greatest number of players enjoying the game.
Buffs and nerfs in games like Overwatch are often a contentious issue, as no Roadhog main enjoys a nerf, and no support main wants the enemy Winston to get a buff. And unfortunately, changes made for one level of play could have an entirely different impact at the other. For example, a buff made for casual players can become over-powered in the hands of a pro player. It seems good Blizzard and Kaplan are aware of this, and keeping the whole picture in mind when making changes.
Some players might not be as happy to see low-level players considered when balances are made. It takes a great deal of practice to master some of the finer aspects of Overwatch, and balancing changes can reduce the effectiveness of a character a player has spent hours mastering. No high level player will be happy to see their main character nerfed because it was dominating low level matches. Of course, players can probably except some upsetting balance changes soon, too, especially with the arrival of Doomfist.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.