Update, October 16: The Overwatch zeitgeist has scarcely slowed down, as the game has now reached over 35 million players.
The popular videogame Overwatch is quite popular. Even more than a year after launch it continues to draw in new players, and though the rate of newbies coming has slowed down, they’re still joining in by the millions.
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Blizzard announced via Twitter today that Overwatch now has over 35 million players. The replies - of course - are universally jokes about how not a single one of them is on the payload.
What a bunch of misfits and freaks we got here—we love it!— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) October 16, 2017
Thanks for teaming up with us, heroes. pic.twitter.com/aBENKWS17f
If you’re of a cynical mind, you might suggest that these counts are getting pumped up thanks to free weekends and the like, and you’d certainly be right. But last month saw Overwatch hit a new peak concurrent user count, so even if not all of those players are sticking around once their free time with the game is up, enough are staying that the more pertinent numbers have continued to be impressive. And hey, most games would kill for five million news players every six months, whatever the causes.
Update April 28, 2017: Overwatch's player count has once again passed another milestone, with Blizzard's colourful FPS now boasting 30 million registered players. That's a lot of Hanzo mains.
It was only at the end of January when Blizzard reported a player count of 25 million, so that's five-million new players in just a few months.
More than 30 million players have charged into Overwatch!— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) April 28, 2017
Thanks for grouping up with us, heroes. We couldn't ask for a better team. pic.twitter.com/j2lRsUtpnd
It was back in January when Psyonix announced that Rocket League had 25 million registered players too, though that was helped along by inclusion on free games service PlayStation Plus.
Rocket League now has 30 million players, so Overwatch looks primed to take it over. After all, Rocket League has been out a fair bit longer than Blizzard's FPS. As industry analyst Daniel Ahmad points out in that tweet linked above, this means Overwatch is level with Destiny in terms of popularity.
Update January 27, 2017: After just a few months released, Overwatch's player count has reached 20 million.
25 million players across all platforms is a remarkable achievement for any game, let alone a brand new IP that’s barely seven months old. Blizzard made the announcement via the official Overwatch Twitter account, the first time they’ve mentioned their player count since the game passed to 20 million player mark back in October. While that shows a slow in user growth, it’s still five million new players in a matter of three months.
The world needs heroes, and over 25 MILLION have answered the call!— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) 26 January 2017
The fight for the future isn't over yet, though... Are you with us? pic.twitter.com/aVoON7QwMB
Of course this also means we get to compare those impressive sales numbers to other fun numbers. For example, there are 62,500 as many Overwatch players in world as there are Sumatran tigers left in the wild. Still though, it’s barely as scratch on the 1.8 billion Coca Cola servings that are sold each day - it would have to improve 72 times over to match that. Pitiful when you put it that way.
The announcement coincides nicely with Overwatch's Year of the Rooster event, which shows there’s still every reason for prospective gamers to pick the game up as it’s showing no signs of disappearing.
Update October 12, 2016: After just a few months released, Overwatch's player count has reached 20 million.
That's a lot of future being fought for. Overwatch is now reaching Call of Duty numbers with 20 million registered players to date. This was revealed alongside the Halloween skins and cosmetics that showed up yesterday, Blizzard never missing an opportunity to brag about just how many people are willing to shoot each other in a Saturday Morning Cartoon.
With a nation strength now larger than Romania, it's a truly impressive record for such a short period. As pointed out by industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, it took Destiny a year to get to the same total, though without the benefit of the PC crowd. It also compares favourably to the yearly sales of titles like Call of Duty that usually sit in the 30 million range across their short lifespan.
With places like South Korean PC bangs making it hard to judge exactly how much money this has brought into the company, when you consider the existence of the in-game loot boxes, highly successful real-world merchandising and the various versions of Collector's Editions - well, it's probably an awful lot of cash. We'll doubtless hear more come the Activision Blizzard investor conference call on November 3, just a day before BlizzCon.
Update Jun 14, 2016: Overwatch has now had over 10 million players according to an official tweet.
Blizzard continue to keep us appraised of Overwatch's player numbers, which continue to be fairly ridiculous. The game has now passed 10 million of us barriering, headshooting and lots of other verbs that aren't actually words.
Here's the official tweet confirming as much:
Ten million Overwatch agents activated and counting! Thank you for daring to see the world for what it could be. <3 pic.twitter.com/5nCe4e32XT— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) 14 June 2016
That's after just three weeks of being available, making an average of a bit under half a million new players a day. We won't even do the math on how much money that is, especially when you take the odd loot box purchase into account, but lets be honest - probably a worthwhile pursuit by the folks in blue. Definitely also one of the fastest growing new IPs of all time, if not the biggest on every metric. The first Overwatch patch has also now gone live, all that's left is to see what eSports plans Overwatch enact.
Update June 2, 2016: You might have realised already, but Overwatch is damn popular. In fact, Blizzard say it now has 7 million players across all platforms.
These 7 million players have logged over 119 million hours, swapped heroes 326 million times, and delivered 11 million payloads in the little over a week since the game released.
“Over the months and weeks leading up to release we saw a lot of love and support for Overwatch - from Blizzard gamers, FPS fans, and people who’d never picked up a game like this before - and we’re very grateful for everyone’s incredible passion and enthusiasm,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment.
“We poured a lot of effort into creating a game - and a new universe - that anyone could enjoy. We’re ecstatic to have had such a successful launch, and we’re looking forward to all of the fun, competition, and new content still to come.”
Ubisoft previously boasted The Division's launch success, claiming the game was the most successful new IP launch ever. It would be interesting to see how Overwatch stacks up, but Blizzard are talking players and Ubisoft are talking money. Why can't we all speak the same language, eh?
There's currently no way you could be a player without actually buying Overwatch, though, so these player numbers may equate to around the same in sales.
Original Story May 31, 2016: It’s a lot more difficult to tell how Overwatch has done versus its Steam-based counterparts. Normally a quick glance at Steamspy, a bit of math and some fudging will tell you if a game has sold - Doom, for example, now sits at over 500,000 owned on Steam. For anything not on that platform, and particularly for Blizzard who are infamously number-shy outside of their quarterly finance calls, we have to go elsewhere. The best we have so far is the UK retail charts, where Overwatch debuted at number one this week across all platforms, with a split of 47% PS4, 36% Xbox One and 18% PC.
No exact numbers are given publically, but we do know that, for example, the PS4 version on its own out-sold everything else this week, while Xbox One copies sold less than Uncharted 4’s third week in the charts. Meanwhile PC is down in fifth, as NeoGAF details.
For those wondering why PC is such a low share, this really is retail only. Chart-Track, the company that puts it together, gives a brief description of how it works on their methodology page. It’s unlikely that even large web shops like Amazon are taken into account, just folks who walk in to high-street stores for a copy of a new game - not exactly common practice for PC gamers.
That it’s even 18% is surprising, and could indicate lower sales on the other platforms than expected. It is the “fastest selling Blizzard title on console” but also only the second time they’ve released a major game on non-PC systems, and the first time that it has actually been new at the time. The 18% may also come from a high volume of collector’s editions sold, as the large box of statue, artbook, game and other goodies will have been high value to any devoted Blizzard fan.
And yes, they're well aware that adds up to 101% - the magic of rounding.
For now, that’s all we know. We’ll likely hear active player numbers or the like from on high before too long in a blog post, but it will be August before the next Activision Blizzard investor conference call forces them to reveal a bit more. Even then we’re unlikely to get an exact total of copies sold unless Blizzard really want to show off - Legacy of the Void’s million-in-a-day, for example.