- 1 So what’s behind this trend?
- 1.1 1. Are California teams about to lose their Overwatch League franchises?
- 1.2 2. Is Blizzard planning to close its Overwatch division?
- 1.3 3. Will Overwatch esports suffer the same fate as Heroes of the Storm?
- 1.4 4. Is Overwatch losing ground to the battle royale phenomenon?
- 1.5 5. Will Overwatch be killed off to make way for Overwatch 2?
- 1.6 6. Could a dead Overwatch be reborn as a mobile-only game?
- 1.7 7. Will Blizzard Entertainment kill off Overwatch in another BlizzCon publicity stunt?
- 1.8 8. Is the Chinese government behind the death of Overwatch?
- 1.9 9. Is Overwatch dying due to toxic gamers?
- 1.10 10. Is Valorant killing Overwatch?
- 2 Final Thoughts
Is Overwatch dying? That’s the question that many gaming & OWL fans have been asking over the past couple of years. A look at Google Trends has revealed that gamers have been asking if Overwatch is dying pretty much since Blizzard Entertainment released the game back in May 2016.
So what’s behind this trend?
Is it just an example of the gaming community working itself into yet another conspiracy theory, or is Blizzard planning to axe the hugely popular first-person shooter? The question is asked every month with every new passing trend or bit of news coming in about Overwatch.
We’ve scoured the Blizzard forums, Reddit discussion pages, and every other nook of the internet to help you find the answer to this year’s big question: is Overwatch dying? Here are the ten possible reasons of varying credibility as to why the game might be facing an untimely demise.
1. Are California teams about to lose their Overwatch League franchises?
If you believe Google Trends, then it looks like most people who ask ‘Is Overwatch dying’ live in California. As a result, it might be fans of Los Angeles Gladiators / Valiant or San Francisco Shock who are worried about their team being bought out by another Texas-based entrepreneur. Or it could just be the state’s recently passed legislation that legalized previously illicit substances causing a touch of gamer-paranoia.
2. Is Blizzard planning to close its Overwatch division?
Blizzard is well-known for being a cut-throat business. In February 2019, the esports games developer cut around 800 jobs despite posting record revenues the previous year. Overwatch has been under fire for past decisions to change the competitive system or rules regarding competitive play. However, the decisions are likely based on more data than we have, and for better or worse Blizzard is the final decision maker .
While it might make little sense to sack the staff who produced the highly popular Overwatch, with the internet continuing to moan about the lack of Diablo IV, it could be possible that Blizzard is finally giving the public what they truly want.
3. Will Overwatch esports suffer the same fate as Heroes of the Storm?
Although Heroes of the Storm is a pretty good game, it seems that Blizzard wasn’t so sure. The developer decided to unceremoniously axe all professional esports tournaments for the game recently. Although this was met with howls of protest from HotS gamers who’d spent much of their lives playing this mediocre MOBA game, it should send a warning shot to all Overwatch fans. There is a likelihood the OWL meets the same fate if the numbers and interest for the game dip way below acceptable margins.
4. Is Overwatch losing ground to the battle royale phenomenon?
Fortnite Battle Royale, Apex Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Escape from Tarkov are undeniably big hits from the past couple of years. Although there is no denying the fact that Fornite and Apex Legends esports are huge fun to play, the fact that a massively boring game like PUBG could become an esports hit is a little worrying. Maybe Overwatch can jump on the Battle Royale bandwagon with a mod, but the genre has a distinctly different player base and audience than Overwatch. The chances of one being the demise of the other are slim to none.
5. Will Overwatch be killed off to make way for Overwatch 2?
Overwatch 2 is definitely on its way. Part Two is definitely going to replace Overwatch eventually. Saying Overwatch 2 will kill off Overwatch is accurate but does not answer the question ‘is Overwatch dying?’. How long Blizzard keeps both titles co-existing is unknown, but we do suspect eventually Overwatch 2 will be the only game left.
6. Could a dead Overwatch be reborn as a mobile-only game?
Few things annoy gamers more than when a classic PC or console title gets remade as a dodgy mobile game like the recent Diablo fiasco. Although mobile gaming is more popular than ever, for Blizzard to make such a move would surely be the biggest video game suicide of all-time.
7. Will Blizzard Entertainment kill off Overwatch in another BlizzCon publicity stunt?
Blizzard is awesome at shooting itself in the foot. BlizzCon 2018 definitely saw this when there was a monster backlash to the Diablo mobile reveal.
Surely the only way that they can better this is to announce that they are killing off Overwatch for no good reason this upcoming BlizzCon, or even better during the Overwatch World Cup.
8. Is the Chinese government behind the death of Overwatch?
December 2018 saw the Chinese government issuing an order for “corrective action” to Overwatch. Although the game didn’t get banned, China’s authorities said that it had an “inharmonious chatroom” and promoted “incorrect values.”
So is Overwatch dying because Chinese state officials can’t handle Widowmaker’s cleavage?
9. Is Overwatch dying due to toxic gamers?
If you go on any Blizzard forum or Reddit page, then you’ll get a good idea as to why the world is facing a total meltdown.
A section of Overwatch fans are definitely not helping matters. And as long as gamers continue to lech over Echo and Hero Pools then Blizzard might just want to kill the whole thing off.
10. Is Valorant killing Overwatch?
Valorant is the new kid on the block. The mega-popular title by Riot Games has caused waves since the Open Beta started. Out of all the possibilities we listed, Valorant might be the only true Overwatch killer out there.
If the competitor doesn’t kill Overwatch it will definitely harm the competitive ecosystem. Professional players in both CS:GO and Overwatch are quickly switching over to Valorant, including superstars like OWL’s 2019 MVP Jay “sinatraa” Won.
Riot Games has a tendency to make extremely good games. While Valorant is considered a soft rip-off on both CS:GO and Overwatch combined. There is no doubt the game is massively popular and the only real threat to Overwatch dying.
The 202o Overwatch League season started with a lot of promise. One of the key selling points was the switch to local homestead events rather than all matches being played in the one arena. Unfortunately, Covid-19 halted those plans. This was not the only headache for the Overwatch League either. After achieving the League MVP status in the 2019 season, “Sinatraa”, retired from professional overwatch partway through the season. Citing a loss of love for the game – caused mostly by mechanic changes that haven’t been particularly popular, attempting to deal with even less popular balancing and meta issues – “Sinatraa” jumped ship to the burgeoning Valorant esports scene.
At the start of the season many of the hosts and commentators left due to concerns over pay and the expected travel requirements. The travel requirements also concerned some players so much that they retired, although some like “Jake” made the switch to being broadcast talent instead. The first two Overwatch League seasons were streamed on Twitch, but there was a last second switch to YouTube for the 2020 season which resulted in lost viewers and even a reduction in features for those that remained. One of the Twitch integrations enabled viewers watching live to receive Overwatch League Tokens that could be redeemed in-game for the Overwatch League skins. The YouTube deal just didn’t offer this feature at all.
Halfway through the season, the Vancouver Titans, who were runners up in the 2019 season, released their entire roster. Being a fully Korean team, based in Canada, the players wanted to return home to avoid being trapped a continent away from their families during a global pandemic. While the team tried to arrange alternatives, in the end, the players – mostly mutually – parted with the team.
But even when online events became the norm and things picked up again, the OWL continued to struggle – with the Overwatch World Cup cancelled, teams hamstrung and the impending release of Overwatch 2 hovering over everybody’s head, Overwatch’s odds weren’t really great. Even more, people were wondering if Overwatch is dead… and the off-season after the 2020 season didn’t help.
Teams released their entire rosters, didn’t extend contracts and about half of the former OWL pros became free agents. Fans were confused and surprised – even the Overwatch betting world suffered. A surprising number of OWL players also switched to playing Valorant. This, too, severely hit the Overwatch talent pool.