Overwatch’s time-limited events are keenly anticipated by its millions of fans, and sometimes offer a rare way to play against AI rather than solely other players. It’s understandable that there is often a clamour for Blizzard to make these PvE game modes permanently available, but according to game director Jeff Kaplan, less is more.
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“It’s very flattering to us that players want them to stick around for longer than the event length,” Kaplan says. But “we have some concerns that leaving it available for the entire year may be fatiguing for players.
“We think it adds tremendous value and replayability for a short period of time, but many of us on the Overwatch team have worked on PvE games such as WoW, the Starcraft campaign, or Diablo III. And in our experience with PvE content, players can be very voracious for more, and as fun as Retribution is for a few weeks, there may be a desire for us to do more with it that we don’t have immediate plans to do.”
If this comes as a blow, Kaplan has learned from experience not to rule anything out definitively. “I would never say never. I once said never to Deathmatch being in the game, and it turns out Deathmatch was one of the funnest modes we’ve ever had.”
But if it is ever going to happen, Kaplan says it’ll take a lot more thought with respect to managing player expectations. “While they’re super fun and super cool events, they are pretty small, and they don’t have the breadth of content that we’d normally like for a complete PvE experience.”
This seems prudent. Toxicity is hardly uncommon in the Overwatch community, so the last thing Blizzard need is to overpromise and underdeliver on new content (or to expose themselves to accusations of having done so, justified or not).