Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan finally addresses Overwatch hero ban rumours

by Andrew Amos
Blizzard Entertainment

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The rumor mill around the introduction of hero bans has been spinning for months, without any public comment from Blizzard. Now, Jeff Kaplan has stepped forward, clarifying the Overwatch’s teams stance and stating hero bans aren’t coming any time soon.

Hero bans have been the talk of the town for Overwatch players. The concept to allow players to ban certain heroes before loading into every game has been tossed around, and even emulated in some tournaments, with the community opinion on the idea being pretty mixed.

After Jeff Kaplan announced a developer update was coming soon on January 22, Overwatch players were holding their breath for any news about the hero ban concept. However, before the video has been dropped, Kaplan has cleared the air and dispelled any rumors that they are on their way soon.

All Overwatch heroes
Blizzard Entertainment
The entire roster of Overwatch will be playable with Blizzard announcing they have no intentions of bringing hero bans to the game.

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Replying to players’ concerns on the forums, Kaplan asserted that hero bans weren’t going to be the major topic of the upcoming developer update, and that they are hesitant to introduce the feature.

“More of [the developers], including myself, are reluctant to add hero bans to Overwatch,” he said. “We’re not of the mindset that we’re opposed to the idea entirely and will never add them, but overall, there are a number of issues that make us want to proceed carefully.”

Supporters of the hero ban concept have three main reasons behind why they want them in the game according to Kaplan: “people don’t like that the meta stagnates...people are frustrated with the balance of certain heroes…[and] people don’t like playing against certain heroes.”

Baptiste on Rialto in Overwatch
Baptiste on Rialto in Overwatch
Jeff Kaplan confirmed that hero bans are off the table for now.

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However, the voice of the Overwatch team believes that all of these problems can be solved in other ways.

“We agree with and understand that players want the meta to be more fluid and move more frequently,” he said. “But just implementing hero bans doesn’t mean the meta will move. Studying other games, the end result is usually a ‘ban meta.’”

Balance-wise, Kaplan announced that more frequent updates to Overwatch will be shipped to help keep the game fresh and stop the rigidity of every meta.

“The upcoming developer update will go in depth into the plan and shed light on how we’re going to accomplish this,” he said. “We agree that there are balance issues. We agree balancing needs to happen more frequently. We disagree that hero bans are a good solution to balance problems.”

Symmetra on Practice Range in Overwatch
Blizzard Entertainment
The Overwatch team is pledging to bring more balance to the game with more frequent updates.

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Kaplan also stated that, for the developers, hero bans go directly against the concept they have in mind for Overwatch.

“[Overwatch] is a PvP game. You don’t get to pick what the enemy team does. The challenge is overcoming that with teamwork, ingenuity, and skill. It feels really off to me that the other team dictates how or what I play,” he said.

He also defended criticism from the community, where some people have been saying that Blizzard aren’t touching hero bans to defend one tricks from being banned out every game.

Genji on King's Row in Overwatch
Blizzard Entertainment
The community has criticized Blizzard's unwillingness on implementing hero bans on protecting one tricks, which Kaplan denies.

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“A lot of people attack hero bans because they only want to play one hero, or ‘one trick.’ Overwatch is a game about mastering many heroes. We don’t expect you to master them all, but you should play a few of the characters. We don’t explicitly prevent you from only playing one hero, but we also don’t encourage it.

“Defending ‘one tricking’ doesn’t factor in for us when it comes to our opinion on hero bans. We want the meta to move more, and one tricking contributed to meta issues. We’re not against one tricking but we’re not going to overly enable or encourage it.”

Jeff Kaplan’s statement on hero bans dispels rumors from prominent Overwatch leakers like Metro, who mentioned that hero bans would be coming “as the dev team has been working on them for a while.”

However, topics like changes to the role queue system, and crucial balance updates needed to help keep the game’s meta fresh are still on the table for the developer update, which has been teed up for later this month.