Fans have been obsessed with Overwatch since it was first announced in 2014. Finally set for release May 24, the game is unique in that it’s the first franchise Blizzard has announced in almost two decades. In order for Blizzard to convince players to buy the game, it had to appeal to both long-time Blizzard fans and an audience that might not otherwise be interested in a competitive shooter. Here are some of the ways Overwatch became a game to keep a close eye on.
The Origin Story
Overwatch was announced at BlizzCon 2014, and not only did it immediately gain attention as Blizzard’s first new franchise in 17 years, but it was also its first entry into the first-person shooter genre. However, this wasn’t the first time Blizzard has broken through into an established field to reinvent it, since it had already done it with the hit MMO World of Warcraft, the collectible card game Hearthstone, and (most recently) the action MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Fans were eager to see how Blizzard would take on the hugely popular competitive shooter genre.
Its cartoon-like graphics (similar to that of Team Fortress 2) and sci-fi superhero setting got people talking, and Blizzard initially described Overwatch as a “pick-up-and-play first-person shooter.” Clearly, the developer was looking to repeat the same success it had with previous games by taking a genre and making it accessible to a wide audience of players, all while maintaining enough challenge for the game to potentially become an eSport.
Then the company mostly went silent about the game until about a year later at BlizzCon 2015, when pricing for the standard “Origins” and limited editions were revealed, along with gameplay for newly revealed characters, and how that game would release either “on or before” June 21. Although additional gameplay trailers and a closed beta were hosted in the following month, Overwatch promotion didn’t hit overdrive until around the start of spring this year.
Longtime Blizzard fans have long known that the company excels at creating cinematic trailers, as which was further evidenced by the Overwatch “theatrical trailer” that released in December. Little did audiences realize that the trailer really was the prelude to a cinematic experience. The full scope wasn’t revealed until March when the animated short Recall was released with the scripted quality and action one might expect from a Pixar movie. A month later, it was followed with another short called Alive.
Not only did the animations catch the attention of fans, but they worked to draw in players that might not otherwise be interested in learning about a competitive first-person shooter. But fans weren’t the only ones who saw the movie potential for these shorts. Coca-Cola partnered to host a one-night launch celebration event, where all the Overwatch videos could be seen together at select movie theaters across the United States. But fans will have to put the call out to assemble before they have a chance to see the cinematic adventure play out on the big screen. A theater needs at least 100 ticket reservations before the movie will be shown at that location on May 22. Those fortunate enough to get a showing in their area will get to see the superhero characters in the movies before jumping into the action themselves when the game releases on May 24.
Ride With Uberwatch
One of the most prominent promotions at PAX East this year was a partnership with the on-demand car service Uber to put Overwatch branded cars on the road to ferry attendees around. Vehicles included a Lamborghini Aventador to represent the character Tracer, a giant four-passenger Ford F650 Supertruck for Soldier: 76, and a pink Polaris Slingshot for the character D.Va. The high-end cars and the Overwatch booth grabbed a ton of attention at the event and helped get the word out about the game in style.
Creating The Perfect Combo
Blizzard, Taco Bell and Razer launched a promotional partnership in April to help thirsty and hungry gamers get their Overwatch on. The contest gives away prizes that include a free copy of the Overwatch Origin Edition (for any platform of choice) and an Overwatch-themed Kraken Pro gaming headset by Razer. To enter, all players have to do is order a combo or large drink from any Taco Bell in the United States to receive a special cup featuring one of four Overwatch heroes. Then they need to locate the unique entry code on the cup and text to see if they’ve won. Digital codes are also available for free, and drawings for prizes occur every ten minutes. The contest ends on May 18.
Who Is Your Hero?
The real stars of the show are the 21 different playable characters, each with unique abilities and roles. Much of the fun is in figuring out which hero you identify with most. To this end, there is a personality quiz that can be found on Buzzfeed, which helps you choose which playable character best suits you based on your replies to a handful of questions that includes the song that best gets you psyched. So, you should give it a try if you’re having trouble figuring out which character best suits you.
Once that’s done, you can show your support by downloading a set of “Cute But Deadly” avatars, which recently became available, to show off the heroes in your social media profile.
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) May 9, 2016
Assembling The Overwatch
As proven time and time again by numerous games, there’s no better promotion than letting players try the game out for free. Overwatch hosted an open beta over the past weekend on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. However, unlike many other betas, this one includes all the content the full retail release of the game will include, providing full transparency before the game officially comes out. The event, which was supposed to conclude today, was such a success that Blizzard decided to extend the open beta period an extra 24 hours. However, that’s just the start of the pre-launch excitement.
The audio technology giant Dolby recently announced that it’s hosting a $10,000 eSports tournament to be held at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California. The Agent’s Rising Tournament, as it is called, will run from May 28 to May 29, and spectator entrance free. The event is Dolby’s first entry into the world of eSports, and firmly answers the question of whether or not Overwatch will be treated as an eSport with a big “yes.”