The current development team for Overwatch is around 25% bigger than it was at launch, with 100 people now keeping the online FPS ticking over, creating new content and keeping the game’s free updates rolling in.
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In a post on Battle.net, game director Jeff Kaplan laid out the team specifics in response to a fan question. “The Overwatch Team (internally at Blizzard we are called “Team 4″) is comprised of about 100 developers at this point,” he said. “The disciplines who comprise the team are Audio, Art, Engineering, Production, and Design.”
On top of that, there are also two full-time business operations staff and an eSports director. He went on to say that the team fluctuated from 40 developers to 75 at launch, making the post launch team a significant bit bigger. Partly, this is because the audio crew were brought on full-time around launch, whereas before they were a shared resource within Blizzard. Their automation group was also brought onboard. The latter group is responsible for the smooth launch.
This is without even mentioning the embedded quality assurance and community teams yet. Once you take every aspect of the business into consideration, it’s easy to see how quickly a team can balloon, especially on a game that requires constant love.
That size doesn’t mean they just churn content out, though, as Kaplan explains in a separate post. “Something like a new map or hero takes months for us to get into a polished state that would be acceptable for release,” Kaplan explained. “We can get new map and hero prototypes up extremely fast, but these look very ugly and often re-use existing art assets.
“When we prototype things, they often are created hastily and in a way that is very buggy and unoptimised. So even though we can stand something up very quickly, if we decide it’s fun and want to see it through, it can be a very long time before it gets released to the public. We’re held to a very high standard so we cannot just “rush something out” and not get called out on it.”
There’s more insight in that full thread about prioritisation and how seemingly small jobs can actually be massive undertakings, so it’s well worth checking out.