You may have noticed this already, but everyone is going nuts for battle royale game modes right now. After PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds proved to be the surprise hit of 2017, and Epic's build-and-blast battler Fortnite became the biggest game on the planet by implementing its own battle royale spin-off, the assumption is that every online game is going to be lobbing 100 players into vast maps and leaving them to fight to the death. There's probably a Candy Crush Battle Royale in development.
Just don't expect Overwatch to leap aboard the bandwagon any time soon. Fans of Blizzard's hero-based arena FPS have been especially vocal in demanding such an update, but now the game's director, Jeff Kaplan, has explained in pretty unambiguous detail why such an undertaking is not as simple as some think - even if most of the Overwatch development team are as addicted to PUBG as everyone else.
"There’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game," he told Kotaku, while admitting that the subject has been discussed a lot behind closed doors at Blizzard.
The main problem, it turns out, is balancing. "First and foremost, Overwatch is a game about heroes," Kaplan says, "and part of what makes the core loop work in a battle royale game is the search, the looting, and the fairness that everybody’s sort of equal. Overwatch wasn’t designed to be a 1v1. Every hero’s not balanced against every other hero."
There's also a question of scale. "I think there are also some technical challenges of large, open game spaces,” Kaplan continues. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters. The Hanamura dojo point B is 45 meters across. I don’t think people realize how tiny it is. Part of what makes Fortnite and PUBG so awesome is that you can have these really long engagement distances."
In other words, while Kaplan and his team think it would be "f***ing awesome" to have an Overwatch Battle Royale, by the time you'd made all the neccesary changes you'd no longer be playing Overwatch. "Building those systems and getting that many players—I think battle royale for Overwatch starts to get into new game territory," reckons Kaplan.