Director's Take - Looking Ahead to Improvements and Experiments

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Director's Take - Looking Ahead to Improvements and Experiments

Hi everyone, and Happy Friday! :)

It's been a very exciting week and a half for Overwatch 2! Season 9: Champions shipped with a new and improved version of our Competitive system and a pretty comprehensive set of changes to the core mechanics of our game.

We're incredibly invested in these changes having a positive impact on the game and are committed to making rapid iterations to them to make that happen. In fact, earlier this week, we made our first pass at tuning with a set of refined projectile sizes and health changes for some of our heroes. We'll keep an eye on how these play out in order to inform you of our next set of changes.

Let's talk about the reworked Competitive Play system, which also launched with Season 9. There's been a lot of excitement around it. In fact, there's been a pretty sizeable shift in our player population because of it. Previously, Quick Play was the most popular mode in Overwatch. It accounted for roughly 40% of the total match hours in the game, while Competitive Play sat at around 35%. Those numbers have since shifted, and Competitive Play now makes up about 45% of match hours, with Quick Play around 32%. An interesting thing to note here is that the total number of hours that people are playing Quick Play isn't down; it's just that people are playing a lot more Competitive Play! We're really excited about this and take it as confirmation that people would like to see more changes and improvements to that side of the game, as well as systemic PvP improvements.

Speaking of improvements, we'll be making more changes in mid-Season 9 and Season 10. One of the largest of these will include the removal of grouping restrictions in Season 10. We'd like people to be able to play with their friends in every area of the game, however we'd also like to keep Overwatch's competitive integrity intact. Groups with a large range of player skill—what we call wide groups—will only play against other wide groups. Narrow groups will only be matched with other narrow groups. For most players we think this will have a big benefit to their match quality. We'll also be adding features to the Competitive Progress screen, such as Match History and a Scorecard, implementing role-specific titles, showing the rank range on the scoreboard, and more. We're also looking into a small set of Top 500 improvements but haven't nailed down which season they'll go live yet.

Lastly, I'd like to take a quick moment to talk about our Quick Play: Hacked feature. The biggest goal is to help inform the types of improvements we could make to the core game.

For instance, based on the first one we ran, Quicker Play, we're looking at making a few changes to the game. We'll be increasing the speed of the Push bot when he's pushing the barrier. We're implementing a speed boost out of spawn for Flashpoint maps, as well as during setup for defenders on Hybrid and Escort modes. We’ll also be reducing the match length of Push from 10 minutes to 8 minutes in Quick Play and are discussing whether to do that in Competitive.

We received a lot of feedback on the way we ran the first event, and I'd like to take a moment to address some of it. The first question that people asked was why we would run this mode in Quick Play rather than something like our old Experimental Card, which was originally created for this purpose. The truth is that the Experimental card was never popular enough for us to get the type of data we wanted from it. Only about 18% of our players joined this queue, and out of those, the overwhelming majority would only play 1 match before going back to their preferred modes. We'd like to get longer-term data and feedback on these tests than what Experimental was giving us. It's difficult for anyone, devs or players, to make an assessment of a game-wide change in just one match. The other piece of feedback we heard was that big disruptive changes to Quick Play didn't give players an option of playing their favorite mode if they didn't like those changes.

Based on what we heard, we will change the way we run Quick Play: Hacked for future events. When we want to test things that have the potential of being fairly disruptive, we'll run the mode on a separate card next to Quick Play. When we want to test something that is a little more moderate, we will probably take over Quick Play but do it for a shorter period of time during the week. And when we have a test that we feel has little disruption to the core game, we'll probably run it the same way we did the original.

That's it for this week. Hope everyone is having a blast in Season 9. Thanks for reading, and let's make a great game!