Just about a month ago, video game giant, Blizzard Entertainment released its newest IP ever since Diablo and that is the arena shooter that we know today as Overwatch. Build upon the ashes of their MMORPG project that failed to see the light, Overwatch has come to reach 10 Million players shooting each other in the face in a span of roughly 2 weeks after its official release.
10 Million gamers, how is it big news?
While it is easy to understand how one title who was already wildly successful even before its release to reach 10 Million peak users in just 2 weeks, one has to understand how those numbers relate to Blizzard’s other games, both on their current Pay-to-play and Free-to-play franchises. For instance, during its prime, World of Warcraft had a peak userbase of 12 Million users wandering the lands of Azeroth back in 2010, 6 years after its initial release in 2004.
6 years, compared to Overwatch’s 2 weeks.
The numbers however, may look small compared to its F2P sister titles from the same developer such as Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, which userbase peaked at roughly 9 Million up, and 30 Million respectively, but it is understandable since both games are F2Ps, but even with the numbers, Overwatch still manages to overpower them by a bit, especially HotS which estimated active playerbase is just around 500,000 to 600,000 players, as based on the added numbers from HOTSLogs.com
So how did it become so big?
There are a couple of reasons that can be attributed to Overwatch’s success, and first and foremost is as to how Blizzard went full on in marketing the game. Even before its beta days, Blizzard has reached out and used the community to grow the game’s reach, most particularly by inviting streamers to try out, and ultimately promote the game to its prospective fans, and taking advantage of the ever growing industry of video game streaming, whether its live or recorded Let’s Play sessions.
In addition to its high-risk, high-reward marketing play, Overwatch is the first IP to ever churn out of Blizzard’s offices in years after a series of spinoffs from their other franchises such as Heroes of the Storm, which is their MOBA spinoff with characters from their other IPs, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft which is, well, a card game spinoff of the WarCraft franchise.
Speaking of being an original, Overwatch became a big hit, especially among competitive players since it’s the first non-MOBA competitive title to successfully come out of the market.
While in a sense, it is a Massively Online Battle Arena title being an Online game massively played by players and set in an Arena or Arenas, Overwatch does not follow your typical team-versus-team in 3rd Person overhead perspective set in the same map scheme and with the same objective of destroying a nexus or an ancient, but rather derived concepts from popular Arena shooters such as Team Fortress 2, and made a totally new title, while keeping both competitive and casual disciplines found in MOBA games.
Original IP, non-redundancy, full-on marketing, all of these are taken into account when talking about Overwatch’s success, and adding to it all is Accessibility, Overwatch is not just available for the PC, but also for console players, PS and Xbox, which still posses a significant share in the video game market, most especially in the West. The trait is shared by another wildly successful Blizzard title, Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft which is also available via Android and iOS devices, and was initially tested on Diablo 3, which was also made available for PS and Xbox systems. Although cross-platform gameplay is not supported, and is not receiving hints of support from Blizzard, being able to understand differing tastes among the community of different video game platforms helps keep Overwatch somewhat healthy from complaints such as Keyboard+Mouse-vs-Controller pros and cons.
The Korean Factor
But perhaps, the most certain factor that attributes to Overwatch’s wild success are the thousands of South Koreans who are already addicted to the game and its rising popularity over SoKor’s previous video game overlord, League of Legends.
Taken from Gametrics, a website that collects statistics from a large chunk of Korean PC Bangs or Internet Cafes, the graph shows how Overwatch is just 1% behind League, and is continuously rising in popularity among Korean PC gamers. Although the question lies if the trend is just because of the game’s recent release, or will continue on to become PC’s biggest online video game title.