Overwatch dev explains how they balance heroes amid 'power creep' concerns - Dexerto

Overwatch dev explains how they balance heroes amid ‘power creep’ concerns

Published: 8/Jan/2020 9:44

by Joe O'Brien


An Overwatch developer has explained how Blizzard approach hero balance in response to concerns about ‘power creep’ in the game.

‘Power creep’ is the idea of the average level of hero power getting gradually higher over time as a response to balance changes. When a hero is underperforming, they might receive a buff to make them more viable, but that adjustment could result in other heroes being pushed out of the meta. So, they too get a buff, and the cycle continues

Obviously, hero changes aren’t always buffs, and heroes that are too powerful are often nerfed. If the balance between buffs and nerfs isn’t just right, however, it can result in a gradual power creep.

Even though characters can still technically be balanced relative to each other if the overall power level goes up by the same amount, the result can be that many heroes feel “too powerful”, making them less fun to play against – or even play with – by lowering the level of skill required to play well.

Blizzard - OverwatchSome players think Blizzard need to focus more on nerfing strong heroes to prevent power creep.

This is a criticism that some Overwatch players have levelled at the game’s current state, but in a recent thread on the official Blizzard forums, Overwatch developer Josh Noh explained why this perception may not be accurate, highlighting that many heroes may perform differently depending on the skill level they’re being used at, and therefore could feel overpowered at one rank and underpowered at another.

“Looking at GM players for the current patch (1.43), Genji and Soldier: 76 are #6 and #7 in terms of win rate for damage heroes (out of 16 total).

“They’re not doing quite as poorly as the general community sentiment would imply. Game balance perceptions/opinions are often repeated and perpetuated enough that they start to become accepted as fact by many players.

“We also should remember that things like win rates and hero power/effectiveness can fluctuate significantly depending on the players’ skill level. If someone complains that Reaper is too strong and another says that Reaper is too weak, they could both be correct for their current skill level.”

Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment
Josh Noh reveals Soldier 76 isn’t performing as poorly as some players believe.

Noh also states that Blizzard tend to focus on the impact at the upper end of the skill ceiling when considering changes, although they do take into account the impact on the broader player base. He also states that while power creep is something to watch out for, he doesn’t feel it’s a significant factor in the live game right now.

“When making balance changes we typically look at the high end potential of player skill for a hero but also try to keep in mind if a given change would be a significant detriment to the overall gameplay experience in lower skill brackets and attempt to find better solution if so.

“I think in general being wary of extreme ‘power creep’ is a valid and healthy concern if it’s causing gameplay to become too wildly distorted from the core experience. I don’t feel that we’re currently anywhere close to that with the live game.”

While the answer may not satisfy all players who want to see certain hero changes made to the game based on their own experiences, it does give an interesting insight into how Blizzard approaches balance.


New OWL season 4 start date may hint at Overwatch 2 release window

Published: 23/Nov/2020 20:48

by Michael Gwilliam


In a new video, Overwatch League Vice President Jon Spector revealed that the fourth season of OWL will be beginning a bit later than normal, possibly hinting at a release of the game’s sequel.

Overwatch 2 was first announced at BlizzCon 2019 and since then fans have really been in the dark with the devs refusing to release any new information.

With the Overwatch League gearing up for its fourth season, fans have grown accustomed to seasons beginning in January or February, but that all changes going forward.

According to Jon Spector, the fourth season will be kicking off in the spring. While he chalked this up to the global health crisis, it’s also possible that Overwatch 2 could be influencing the decision a little bit as well.

Lucio in Overwatch 2
Blizzard Entertainment
Overwatch 2 will have a full campaign.

“Our 2021 season will start in the spring. That gives us a little more time to plan versus when we typically started in February,” he said. “It gives us and the teams a little bit more of an opportunity to deal with all the logistics and be ready to hit 2021 running when the season begins.”

With BlizzCon 2020 scrapped and moved to an online event in February, many fans believe that this will be where Blizzard shows off more from the long-awaited sequel including a release date.

Overwatch community figure Naeri tweeted, “The 2021 Overwatch League is officially set to be back in the spring. Therefore, it seems that you can check the exact release of Overwatch 2 on BlizzConline 2021.”

This isn’t the only evidence either. As Dexerto previously reported, streamer Metro, who leaked information about the sequel before it was made official claimed that the game will most likely be getting a beta if not a full release in 2021.

It would make sense that the league would want teams and players to be familiar with everything Overwatch 2 has to offer such as new heroes, maps and modes before the season begins.

Furthermore, there have been some rumors that season 4 will have a pre-season. This seems like another indicator that we’ll be looking at a completely new game.

Until then, we’ll have to keep our eyes open and see what the future holds once BlizzCon kicks off in February.