Will Blizzard Reveal Overwatch 2 at Blizzcon 2019?
There have been rumors and leaks suggesting a sequel to Overwatch at Blizzcon 2019 floating around since June. Now, Blizzcon is only a couple weeks away, taking place from November 1 to November 3 in Anaheim, California, and the status of this big Blizzard project is still up in the air.
Blizzard has been in a public relations crisis since banning a Hearthstone streamer and two commentators for supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Since then, the backlash from that decision has already impacted Blizzard's public facing activities. Blizzard cancelled their Overwatch Switch New York launch event, likely due in part to the protests, and the company did issue a statement on the matter. On top of these recent issues, Blizzcon is under especially close scrutiny from fans to deliver after what many considered a disappointing slate of announcements in 2018.
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Blizzard is planning big announcements for Blizzcon 2019 as a response to last year's much despised Diablo Immortal announcement. What form that takes currently remains to be seen, but many are speculation Overwatch 2.
A new game, mainly referred to as Overwatch 2, was going to focus on PvE play instead of the PvP multiplayer Overwatch has become known for. Reportedly, some people at Blizzard have compared Overwatch 2 to Left 4 Dead. These are still the only concrete details we have about what an Overwatch 2 would be.
Having a "large PvE element" could mean many things for a sequel. For Overwatch 2, this could be an entire new mode. In addition to developing an updated version of the Overwatch multiplayer, Blizzard could be working on a PvE game in the form of a Left 4 Dead campaign or Gears style horde mode. Blizzard has experimented with adding co-op special modes and events to Overwatch in the past, so it's not impossible to believe that a fully fleshed out version of these ideas is in the works for the next game. However, it seems unlikely Blizzard would gut the team-based shooter that everyone loves, so chances are both game types would be supported in a sequel.
The only question that remains is does it make sense for Blizzard to release a sequel to a 2016 game that is still popular and has built up a significant player base over the years? How would releasing Overwatch 2 sync up with the decisions Blizzard has made as a company up until this point?
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Traditionally, Blizzard has been pretty scarce when it comes to sequels, and the ones it does release are pretty few and far between in the modern age. When it comes to their single player franchises, even in the early days it took Blizzard four years between Diablo and Diablo 2 and six years between Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 3. Expansion packs were an opportunity Blizzard often capitalized and delivered on for all its major single player release like Starcraft and Diablo. And of course it stopped making Warcraft sequels in favor of a new model of game that would change Blizzard forever: World of Warcraft.
As Blizzard had more popular properties to juggle, sequels came less frequently. 12 years was how much time passed between both Starcraft and Starcraft 2 and Diablo 2 and Diablo 3. It became clear that the popularity of WoW had shifted the goal posts significantly, and now Blizzard is a different kind of company.
Nowadays Blizzard is known for their polished multiplayer experiences, where there are players who constantly expect new content for Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone. Before these rumors believing that Blizzard could possibly be working on a sequel to any of these games, let alone Overwatch which was the most recently released of the bunch in 2016, would be an unwise bet. An Overwatch sequel would frankly be uncharacteristic of Blizzard and would not align with how the company has built its business in the past 15 years.
So if a sequel announcement only three years after the release of the original gamedoesn't fit with Blizzard's release history, what could this rumored game be? An Overwatch spin-off with a PvE focus is perhaps more likely. The Overwatch characters and lore have been unexpectedly popular since the game launched and as time goes on Blizzard only continues to flesh characters out. A co-op shooter based on the Overwatch universe has potential to coexist alongside the current competitive shooter while giving fans a new outlet to learn more about the game's lore.
Overwatch is the first new franchise Blizzard has launched in many years and it only makes sense to expand that brand while it is still relevant. Reaching gamers who don't play competitive games would fit with the ethos of positive feedback and player encouragement in Overwatch, but getting a new game called Overwatch 2 is highly unlikely.
Overwatch 2 is reportedly in development for unspecified platforms.
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