The Overwatch 2 reveal was one of the biggest announcements at this year’s BlizzCon, and it got even bigger when it was made clear that it would share new characters, maps, gametypes, and even a multiplayer server with the original title. Creating a new game with updated graphics and a brand-new story mode that seamlessly ties in online play with the original game is a fairly intense workload – and that’s why development and updates on Overwatch have seemed sparse lately, according to Jeff Kaplan himself.
Kaplan spoke to Kotaku about Overwatch 2 production and how it resulted in more stagnant Overwatch dev work, citing the sequel as “100 percent the reason” why seasonal events were merely recycled versions of old events, not newly crafted standalone game types. Kaplan told Kotaku, “I sit right next to one of the designers of Junkenstein’s Revenge — this brilliant guy named Mike Heiberg — and he’s like, ‘I have all these ideas I want to do for Halloween this year.’ And I’m like, ‘I understand, Mike, but we’re focused on this other thing right now.'”
Junkenstein’s Revenge has been the Halloween game type for the three years since its inception, with little adjustments to gameplay – it’s as if there’s a big, green “Junkenstein’s Revenge” button that Blizzard pushes once a year and that’s that on Halloween content. Aside from the “Storm Rising” Archive event, which featured a four-player cooperative story mode, every event of 2019 has been either a recycled one (Summer Games, Halloween Terror), or challenge-based “events” that offered themed cosmetics in exchange for playing any pre-existing game type. It seems likely that the Winter Wonderland event will be the same as it has been the last two years, as well.
According to Kotaku, Kaplan is adamant that the decrease in new Overwatch content is a temporary slow down, not a very long death knell, and that when Overwatch 2 production is complete they’ll be able to focus on regularly updating both games. ““I think Overwatch 2 is kinda gonna be the greatest moment in Overwatch history,” he told Kotaku, “The fact that we can pick up again with that live service cadence, where we’re 100 per cent focused, is really exciting to me.”
Whether or not Overwatch will see more love after the as-yet-unknown launch date of Overwatch 2 is something we’ll have to keep an eye on. For now, once more unto the Lucio Ball.