On May 30, 2019 Jeff Kaplan released the statistics on which of Overwatch’s new workshop modes have been played the most in North America/Europe and Korea. These numbers revealed some very, well, interesting modes taking the top spots. Namely, in NA/EU, a variation of the card game, UNO, sits atop the leaderboard at 1370 hours played. Over in Korea, High Blood Pressure Marathon, which is basically Total Mayhem on steroids, sits at the top with a whopping 5447 total hours played.
These two modes, along with their other goofy counterparts that sit towards the top of the leaderboard, reveal several truths about Overwatch’s larger player-base that developers may want to consider moving forward.
Nothing Resembling Traditional Overwatch
At the center of it all, the superior manner of these modes shows that players have a deep desire for non-traditional forms of playing the game. UNO, parkour, hot potato and Hammond racing are all modes that do not really resemble the traditional experience of logging on to Overwatch and playing Arcade, Quick Play or Competitive. They are in the same universe, with everyone’s favorite heroes at the center, but they present a completely different gameplay experience. Something fresh that players have clearly been pining for.
These workshop modes expand the range of what players think of when they imagine Overwatch. The alternative experience in a game that has been around for as long as Overwatch has is key to its survival long-term. Think of Grand Theft Auto 5, for example. The fan-made mods in that game completely revitalized it and gave it a much longer shelf life than other GTA games before it. For Overwatch, the workshop may be just the thing to extend its shelf life and continue bringing new players to the game.
Chaos and Anarchy
Modes like High Blood Pressure Marathon show that, at least in Korea, players like to use their abilities – A LOT. Playing competitively, it can be frustrating when those big ultimates don’t come as frequently as they do in the Overwatch League, especially for those players in lower ranks on the ladder. Workshop modes, where players can use their ultimates constantly, fill that desire while still providing a gameplay experience that ever-so-slightly resembles the real thing.
Just Have Fun
If nothing else, these modes can give players space to goof off and just enjoy playing the game. So much of what makes competitive play so infuriating is when players lock into a hero and refuse to switch, just because they want to log on and have fun. If workshop can provide that sort of player with a viable alternative that allows them to get that sort of play out of their system, perhaps competitive games can gain back some of their competitive integrity.
What This Means
At a baseline, it makes sense for the developers to continue to work with the community and better refine these workshop modes. Thus far, the only workshop modes that have been integrated into Arcade are a version of Gun Game and a FFA that works on a uniform hero rotation. Both of these are modes that feel very similar to the traditional Overwatch experience in the sense that each are played with the same general mechanics that players are used to.
Moving forward, perhaps developers ought to consider implementing some of the wilder workshop modes into Arcade and refining them in the process. Making Arcade into a place where players can go to get an experience that is different from Quick Play and Competitive may very well revitalize Overwatch and bring players back that have previously put the game behind them. Who knows, perhaps Overwatch will find its version of Halo’s Grifball in the process?
[Article originally published on June 2, 2019]
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