Speaking with Game Informer, Game Director Jeff Kaplan revealed that Soldier 76 has been the most played character in Overwatch, and “that’s been pretty consistent since day one.” The least played character, meanwhile, is Symmetra, and that’s “also been pretty consistent.”
Kaplan says Solider 76 being the most played character was deliberate on Blizzard’s part, as they wanted to create something familiar to players coming from other shooters, so 76 was featured in the tutorial. “We also designed 76 in such a way that he’s nearly always a good pick,” he added. “He works well with any composition. He’s soft-countered by a few heroes but not really hard-countered by anybody, and he either soft- or hard-counters a lot of other heroes. So the fact that 76 is the most played is very reassuring to us.”
As for Symmetra, Kaplan thinks there’s a perception issue where she’s not useful on attack – “which isn’t actually true” – and she’s instead used defensively on hybrid, payload, assault maps on the first point. “On defense, people are playing her so that the defenders have a teleporter back on the first point on the map, and when the first point gets lost players will switch off of her,” he added. “So the fact that she’s our lowest played is not surprising to us. It’s exactly how players are playing her, and it’s not really an anomaly.”
For the future of Overwatch, Kaplan says their goal is to add something new every month. They delivered Competitive Mode in June, Ana in July, and the Summer Games earlier this month, with a new map coming next month, and Kaplan says what they deliver could be something different each time:
Our hope is – and obviously we don’t want to put out a promise that we can’t deliver on, so this is a goal rather than a commitment – we can at least see something really cool every month. That will be our goal, and we’ve been tracking pretty well towards that so far. If you look at the fact that we launched in May, we put out Competitive mode in June and we put out Ana in July. We really want to keep up with that sort of pace.
It won’t always be a new game mode, it won’t always be a new hero, and we’re exploring the possibility of events in the future. So those are the types of things that we’re hoping excite players. We’ll see if we can keep up, we’ll see if that’s the right pace for players and we’ll see if we’re delivering the right kinds of content.
As more characters get added to Overwatch, Kaplan said “we would leave the door open to” older ones being retired from the roster. Because of the business model – all the heroes come with the game and extra heroes are free – he thinks they could retire a hero without feeling too bad. On the Battle.net forums though, he clarified that retiring a hero is something they aren’t “even remotely thinking about” right now or in the foreseeable future.
Kaplan went on to say in the interview that the business model means they don’t have to release a new hero to keep development going:
That means that we don’t have the pressure to release heroes when it might not be the right decision for the game; we’re able to release heroes when players are ready for something new or it’s right for the meta to shift a little bit. We don’t have to do it just because we’re trying to push the business model forward.
Which character do you use the most in Overwatch?