Speaking to Kotaku, Overwatch lead designer Geoff Goodman states that Blizzard considers the Sombra ARG to be a success, despite fan criticisms and having never done one before.
Prior to Sombra’s reveal at BlizzCon 2016, the mysterious hacker was the main subject of an ongoing Overwatch alternate reality game (ARG) that lasted several months. While fans were initially intrigued by the various clues and hints left behind by Blizzard, the drawn-out nature of the ARG ultimately caused some fan backlash, particularly when all the intense puzzle-solving brought them no closer to Sombra. However, despite the negative criticisms towards the end of the ARG, Blizzard still considers the game to be a “success“.
Speaking to Kotaku, Overwatch lead hero designer Geoff Goodman – who initially helped get the ARG off the ground – states that Blizzard were well aware of all the fan outcry, especially since the studio had never organized a game of this nature before:
“We were definitely taking the feedback. I think it was fair, the feedback. We’re not very good at ARGs. We’ve never done one before.”
Despite the negative reception towards the latter stages of the ARG, Goodman states that Blizzard is far from unhappy about how everything unfolded. In fact, the studio considers the ARG to be a success since it helped show off Sombra in a way that was true to her mischievous personality:
“Overall, I think it was a success, we got to show off Sombra in ways that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. People get an idea of who she is and a little bit of her personality before we even unveiled her.”
Artist Rachel Day expanded upon this, explaining that Sombra’s troll-like characterization and her hacking abilites played a part in why an ARG was the way to go and how the character was ultimately revealed:
“We have this new and interesting character that’s all about hacking, but what does that even mean, right? We’re sitting around saying, ‘What does hacking mean?’ Going through this and showing the puzzles and how intelligent she is and how strong she is. Doing all of this stuff on her own, I think, this was a really great way for us to display that.”
While the last few months were deemed to be a success, Goodman considers the whole ARG to be a learning experience and that while Sombra’s BlizzCon reveal was “the goal for a long time“, he admits that the timing of the game and its events could have been better:
“I think the biggest thing was the timing maybe could have been better on it. That was the biggest lesson … [The community was] just on the ball every time. I think that made those windows a little longer than the others might have been.”
When asked whether there are any more ARGs planned for the future, Goodman revealed that Blizzard don’t have any planned for the moment but it remains a possibility, saying that the medium in which future Overwatch heroes are revealed depends on the personality of said future heroes. As for when we can expect the next hero, Blizzard is understandably keeping its cards close to its chest, but Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan did reveal last month that the studio is currently working on two new heroes, though they probably won’t be unveiled until next year.
As for the newest addition to the Overwatch hero roster, Sombra joins the team as a stealth/offensive character who is as good at sneaking around as she is mischievous. With the character currently being tested on the Overwatch PTR, we can certainly expect to see Sombra in the game very soon, hopefully before the commencement of season three of Competitive Play next month.
Overwatch is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.