In a Battle.net forum post where a fan asked what Blizzard’s next step for Overwatch was, Game Director Jeff Kaplan responded by laying out their plans for the future.
After saying they’re currently working on content patches for 2016 and into early 2017, Kaplan added, “Of course we have long term plans, but we like to remain agile to respond to the current direction of the game and players’ needs.”
Right now, their big focus is Competitive Play, which was removed from the game after beta feedback prompted them to look at it again. Saying this new iteration is “really far along” and they’re playtesting it multiple times a day, Kaplan revealed Blizzard is looking at doing a public test before it’s live:
We’re also looking into/debating putting up a Public Test Realm for this feature so that we can test it in a larger environment before putting it live. Even when it goes live, I anticipate our first few seasons will require iteration on the feature. We’re working very hard to make it awesome at release but there are some things you need to see and feel along with a large population before you can properly sign off on the feature. I anticipate Competitive Play will require a few season’s worth of iteration before we’re in the place we want to be.
Blizzard is also working on some new heroes, but Kaplan is quick to point out that they aren’t in a position to openly talk about a release schedule for them, and some of the prototypes may never even see the light of day.
As for maps, one of them is officially in production after going through enough playtesting, but a release window wasn’t given. They also have some more maps in prototype and playtest phases right now, though just like the heroes, some may get scrapped.
“So maps and heroes are being worked on daily,” he added. “I wish I had dates for you but whatever date I gave you would change and then you’d all be mad at me. The good news is, like we’ve said before, for Overwatch, we won’t be charging for those maps or heroes. Those will just be live updates that will come in a patch for free.”
Elsewhere, Blizzard wants to make a lot of improvements to the spectator/broadcast/observer functionality in the game, which will benefit Highlights and the Play of the Game, but “these features are not being worked on heavily right now.” They also want to do a lot more with Brawls, improve the overall functionality of Custom Games, give you more customization options, do more with the progression system, and add more than one spray or voice line, “but they are minor and are far off.”
There’s an endless list of social feature improvements we want to make. These will most likely make their way in “some at a time” each patch — rather than as a huge feature. We want to continually improve the social experience. For example, in the upcoming patch that has Competitive Play, you can now instigate many of the social actions on another player any time you have mouse control — so in Hero Select, Assemble your Heroes, end of round card screen etc. (obviously, PC description listed). It’s a minor thing but makes a big difference. So ongoing social feature improvements. We cannot stress enough the game is best played with other people — it’s a team game.
Kaplan then highlighted a couple of console bug fixes they’re working on: “You cannot leave a game as a group. This needs to be fixed. Also, if a friend gets recommended to your group you get a dialogue telling you to press Y/N… which doesn’t exist on a console controller. So this needs to be fixed.” Blizzard is also doing a large anti-cheat and anti-hack effort behind the scenes.
As Kaplan stressed near the end of his post: “Some of this stuff might not happen. The reason developers usually don’t give insight like this is because if something changes or doesn’t happen, players get very angry at us.” He added that you can expect more information in the future, “so long as you understand none of this is a promise and things do change throughout the course of development.”