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Gameverse | December 13, 2019

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Overwatch 2: Too Soon For a Sequel?

Matthew Byrd

Overwatch

Overwatch 2 hasn’t been confirmed, but recent leaks suggest that it’s basically about as confirmed as Diablo 4. That is to say that we’re just waiting for Blizzard to say the words.

It’s in this awkward in-between period between leaked reveal and confirmation that we begin to ask a lot of questions. Will Overwatch 2 feature a new roster? Will it include new modes? How much of our progress in Overwatch will carry-over to the sequel?

Yet, somewhere at the top of the list of questions regarding Overwatch 2 is, “Is it time for an Overwatch sequel in the first place?”

The sequel business used to be simple. You make something that’s successful then you release a sequel to a few years later that usually just gives people more of the original. experience. Sequels were sometimes cheap cash grabs of the originals, but they served a sometimes necessary and vital function for all kinds of entertainment industries.

When it comes to gaming, though, things have changed. Many games have replaced the traditional sequel structure with a “live service” model which sees a game be continuously updated over a period of months and years. It has problems of its own, but this model does typically stretch the “value” of a game over a longer period of time than we used to see.

That brings us to Overwatch 2. As games like Destiny 2 have shown, there are times when a sequel in a live service environment can be seen as an even more unnecessary cash grab than ever before. After all, if a game can be updated for years and years to come, then what’s the point of forcing players to buy a completely new game?

So to see if Overwatch 2 needs a sequel, let’s try to answer a few questions about Overwatch as it is.

Are Overwatch’s Graphics Outdated?

Well…yes, but the better question may be “Does that matter?”

Blizzard games have never really relied on featuring top-of-the-line graphics as the studio has typically preferred to emphasize creative art style over raw graphics. As we’ve seen, that lends their games a kind of timeless appeal.

As such, it’s not like Overwatch is hard on the eyes. In fact, its colorful visuals help it stand out amongst an endless series of similar drab titles. Given the relative lack of visual advancements since Overwatch was first released, it’s debatable whether or not a new Overwatch game would even look that much better than the first.

To be fair, a new engine could help Blizzard iron out some lingering performance issues and help ensure the health of Overwatch over a longer period of time. However, many of those improvements would be on the back-end of the game.

Does Blizzard Need an Overwatch Sequel to Add a PvE Campaign?

Again, this is somewhat debatable, but honestly, it feels like the answer here is “No.”

We’ve seen Blizzard add PvE missions to the base Overwatch experience. It’s not unreasonable to suggest they could add a permanent series of PvE events to the game, or even just continue to tell a story via these special PvE events.

An upgraded engine for a sequel could make it easier for Blizzard to add such modes to the game, but we’re not sure a sequel is strictly necessary for that purpose.

Is Overwatch 2 Needed to Make Major Changes to Overwatch?

This depends on the specifics, but the obvious answer again here seems to be “No.”

Blizzard has made major changes to Overwatch. They recently even added an entirely new system that dictates what kind of team compositions you can build. Only they can tell you what the limits of the current Overwatch system are, but it certainly doesn’t seem that they’re being held hostage by the shell of the game. We’ve even seen fans use the Overwatch engine to make entirely new games.

Unless Overwatch 2 is going to completely change the way Overwatch works (which, aside from some rumored alterations, certainly doesn’t seem to be the case), it feels like a sequel isn’t necessary in this respect.

Will Overwatch 2 Be a Profitable and Successful Sequel?

As always, this is what it comes down to. Sequels exist to generate hype and make more money. If Overwatch 2 is going to be another full-priced (or close to full-price) experience, then Blizzard will almost certainly see at least short-term revenue gains from it.

Still, Overwatch isn’t as popular as it once was. You can blame that on some design decisions, but many Overwatch players left because they felt burnt out on the game and gravitated towards other titles. At present, it looks like Overwatch 2 is set to deliver mostly more of the original game plus a few more notable alterations. What’s up for debate is whether or not Overwatch is still popular enough to inspire millions of people to pay for that game again, especially if the original continues to linger on in any notable form.