Overwatch has only been out for a year and already this hit FPS (First person shooter) game has taken the world by storm. Boasting over 30 million players, Overwatch has grown to be both a critical and financial success. Much of this is thanks to the absolutely solid gameplay, balanced level design, refined controls, and unique abilities that players can wield. Yet, one factor that is often overlooked in the success of this game is the massive community that has supported this title since launch. While every franchise has its dedicated following, the fans behind Overwatch have a passion that isn’t rivaled outside of a few notable franchises. It’s this diverse playerbase that has propelled Overwatch to an iconic status amongst its competitors.
Just perusing through the official Overwatch Reddit makes it incredibly apparent just how popular this title has gotten in less than a year. At the time of writing this, there are over 850 thousand subscribers for the Overwatch Reddit page, with about 10 thousand currently online. Comparing these numbers to other large titles like Destiny (300k subscribers), Battlefield 1 (100k subscribers), and Hearthstone (450k subscribers) makes it readily apparent just how many people have fallen in love with this game. This number only grows when you look at the numerous Facebook groups, LFG (Looking for Group) websites, and content creators.
Overwatch has helped produce a rather booming industry when it comes to Youtube personalities and streamers, as some people jettisoned their careers to immeasurable heights thanks to this title. Youtubers like Unit Lost Gaming, Your Overwatch, ohnickel, and Muselk have all used Overwatch to reach out to the gaming community. Much of this title’s growth is thanks to content creators who have dedicated themselves to reaching out, interacting, and connecting with Overwatch’s massive fanbase. This lends a sense of comradery amongst the playerbase, as everyone strives to improve and develop their understanding of the game together.
The content creators are the backbone to this thanks to many of them producing tips and tricks videos that focus on growing as a player. This idea of working together is sewn into the very foundation of Overwatch’s team based mechanics, with helpful reminders and messages popping up for those who are unsure of what a group may need. Having Overwatch focused so much around a “team-centric” mentality forces players to talk, plan, and work together if they want to succeed. It’s a title meant to push those who normally never talk out of their comfort zone and establish relationships (both brief and long) among players.
Outside of the gameplay, Overwatch‘s cast of character has inspired tons of fantastic cosplays, paintings, sculptures, and more. This game undoubtedly has a huge following of artists, as gorgeous drawings of the various heroes began to pop up almost immediately after launch. Just typing the word “Overwatch” into fan creation websites like Etsy and DeviantArt produces hundreds, upon hundreds of pages focused on this one game. The same goes for cosplayers who have taken the complex outfits that each hero sports and brought them to life across a plethora of different events and conventions.
There’s little doubt that these talented artists have helped Overwatch’s success, given their work typically spreads like wildfire across the forums, social media, and Reddit page. The sheer creativity on display helps showcase unique original characters, gorgeous alternate outfits, and of course the endless amounts of romantic pairings that the fans have come up with. Blizzard also promotes artwork and cosplays via Twitter, allowing the community to come together and celebrate this game.
Even Overwatch’s talented cast have been repeatedly and frequently engaged with the community. Actors like Darin De Paul and Johnny Cruz frequently take photos and videos with fans, while others like Matthew Mercer play Overwatch in and our of character. While many video game casts are stellar, the sheer joy and passion offered by these performers help deepen a player’s connection with the heroes and villains they choose to play as. It becomes personal in a way that other class based shooters never truly grasp and allows for people to identify on more than a technical level with a specific character.
Blizzard themselves have had a rather large hand in helping grow Overwatch’s community since they remain incredibly active both on and off of their own forums. While many of the community managers, developers, and writers have frequent contact with the fans, it’s Game Director Jeff Kaplan that has become the face of the game. Whether it’s appearing in videos to talk about the history of Overwatch, answering silly fan questions, or addressing issues on the forums, Kaplan has always strived for transparency with the players. Not only does this establish a sense of trust between users and creators, but an understanding that this is a title that’s always moving forward.
Overwatch even produced a massive esports scene that exploded upon its release, giving birth to multiple tournaments, championships, and careers. One of the most notable was the ELEAGUE/FACE IT Grand Finals that were hosted live on TBS last fall. Blizzard themselves hosted a World Cup at their convention BlizzCon that was so successful there is another one happening later this year. Where Overwatch separates itself from the other esports titles, is that Blizzard is genuinely trying to open it up to anyone who is a fan of the game. The recently announced Overwatch Contenders, allows for players of all backgrounds to enter and compete alongside the professionals for a chance at winning $50,000.
When it comes to Overwatch the sky seems to be the limit, as almost every aspect of video game culture has been penetrated by this game. From the competitive fans cheering for their favorite players to the quiet artist working on their latest painting, Overwatch has the ability to captivate and inspire. It’s a game of lightning fast action developed by a passionate team that is always working on improving every aspect of the game. It’s rare a title is able to bring so many people together from different walks of life, but Overwatch has succeeded where many have failed.
This is a gaming empire built on the backs of both casual and dedicated players who pour hundreds of hours into intense matches. Overwatch has transcended beyond simply being a class based shooter and into something that will have forever impacted gaming culture. While it’s true that every video game has a passionate following, the sheer level of diversity between the various communities helped keep this title relevant beyond its release date. Without those creating videos, works of art, posting on the forums, or just funny GIFs, Overwatch would not nearly be as successful. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year, but we are excited to look forward and see what Overwatch’s future holds.