Why is Overwatch Dying
Blizzard seemed to have hit the nail on the head with Overwatch. It was the first Esports title to announce a franchise model, and funds came pouring in from every possible source.
The game's popularity soared, viewership grew exponentially, and things seemed to be going well.
So, what's causing it? Why is a game with so much funding and seemingly endless promise suddenly on life support?
Well, there is more than one reason.
The OWL model allows for expansion. More teams buy-in as time goes by, so the fanbase becomes more divided. What this means is that viewers who only tune in to see their team are split across a broader range of streams than before.
The numbers seem to back up this point. The average viewership for the top channels covering the OWL is down by 20-30k. However, the total hours watched has actually increased due to more games being streamed.
Although, it wasn't the increase in teams that was the biggest factor in the viewership decrease, it was the 3-3 meta.
For those of you lucky enough to not know what the 3-3 meta was, let me explain. The 3-3 meta was a period of time when the composition of pro teams was made up of three tanks and three supports.
So what? Well, think about it. There is no DPS hero. DPS players are often the ones to make the flashy plays that we all tune in for. Instead, what we got were six sluggish lumbering brutes smashing themselves together to see who could last longer.
Fights were beyond boring, and they took forever due to the prominence of support heroes.
To counter this, Blizzard introduced the role queueing system.
This is a matchmaking algorithm that allows players to enter what role they want to play before finding a game. The game then matches you up with players of other roles in order to ensure you always get a good team composition.
With this came the 2-2-2 meta. You see, the algorithm always matches you with one other person from your role and two from the others. So, the 2-2-2 composition was enforced. To follow this up, Blizzard also enforced this meta in the OWL, so teams were forced to play two of each.
This made games substantially more enjoyable to watch and hopefully can begin a bit of a rebirth for Overwatch's fanbase.
Despite what not only overall viewership and the fans say, Blizzard does not believe that Overwatch is experiencing a decline.
They regularly post about the growth of the game in 2019. Now, this isn't entirely deceitful. The game is growing in specific ways, emphasis on specific. As we discussed, overall watch time is increasing, as to did the average minute audience number.
There are countless different minute micro-figures that one can read to try and prove growth, but at the end of the day, total viewership is down, and the fans can see that. Hopefully, with the death of the 3-3 meta, and the announcement of Overwatch 2, Blizzard can pull Overwatch back from its popularity decline.