Blizzard's first new IP in decades, Overwatch, has taken the gaming world by storm in a fashion only Blizzard can orchestrate and deliver: within a few days of its launch, it wasn't only the hottest title played in gaming cafes world-over, it had also gained a very solid eSports foothold – despite its imperfections in this regard – a feat not at all easy to replicate by anyone. Since then, the eSports side of the game has been chiseled closer to perfection too, as the numbers generated by the on-screen antics of its motley crew of homicidal, yet personality-wise well-endowed freaks and misfits continued to explode.
Blizzard's success with Overwatch is no happenstance though. There's tremendous effort going into various aspects of the game, more so now than ever, as Blizzard seem determined to wipe their competition off the map with this game, regardless of the costs. When questioned by a fan some days ago regarding the number of people who worked on Overwatch, game director Jeff Kaplan delivered an elaborate and lengthy answer, the gist of which was that directly, there are some 100 people currently involved in the smooth running of the Overwatch IP.
During development, the Overwatch team was much smaller: between 40 and 75 people worked on the title, but following launch, that number exploded through the addition of the audio team, which was brought over into the fold for good, whereas before, it had been a sort of "shared resource" for the company. Of course, there's a lot more to the Overwatch team right now…in fact, according to Kaplan, one way or another, everyone at the company is involved with the game, though those who deal with it directly make up about 100 people.
Comprised of Production, Engineering, Design, Art and Audio departments, the Overwatch crew makes use of the services of dedicated QA and Community teams, as well as a Story and Franchise Development group, which is responsible with the deepening of the Overwatch canon/lore through the creation of comics and general material dealing with the universe of the game. There's a licensing group and yes, there's a legal team as well tasked with ironing out details like the legal use of the Hollywood sign in one of the Overwatch maps.
There's a dedicated eSports crew, as well as one dealing with hacking and cheating. Business analysis and PR are obviously also major slices of the Overwatch cake. To make a long story short, Blizzard currently operate one of the biggest and sturdiest teams in gaming. period.
To give the scope of the Overwatch project some perspective, comparisons are called for: The entire Fallout 4 development team was around 100 people, and if their website listing is indeed accurate, Valve's entire operation is currently smaller than the barebones Overwatch squad. Talking about Valve: we have to mention Team Fortress 2, a game from which Overwatch seems to have drawn quite a bit of inspiration, and which just happens to belong to an operator who is also responsible for Dota 2, a mod based on Blizzard's engine over which the two companies have fought quite a number of bitter legal battles.
The bottom line: the Overwatch team is massive and it's a well-oiled machine which – according to Kaplan – transfers ideas from being mentioned into reality in an impressively short amount of time. These guys make things happen, and the way things currently are, no one can hope to match them in the industry.
Let us know in the comments below if you agree and if you thing that the development of Overwatch is in the right hands!
Peter Wassenberg has been tasked with Overwatch coverage for the world's top eSports and competitive gaming site.