The Sombra ARG was controversial, to say the least. While entertaining, it lasted a long, long time and lead mostly from countdown to countup and back again, with long breaks and bitty content. Unlike much of the rest of Overwatch, it felt rather unfinished and rushed, at least until the final phases over the last week or so. What, as it were, was up with that?
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“I wasn’t involved directly in it but from the sense of the team, what we started with the ARG is telling Sombra’s backstory,” says Rachel Day, an FX artist on the Overwatch team, during BlizzCon.
“She’s a hacker character, she’s very intelligent, very confident and we wanted to have a way to reveal her that was unique to her. So we came up with this ARG and had a lot of fun interacting with the community along the way. There were all these forums and people jumping on to try and figure out the puzzles. It went off bigger than I think we imagined it would.”
Every update, at least for a while, took over the internet with speculation and excitement. Eventually – especially after a two-month cooldown in the form of a download bar slower than Limewire on a 56K modem – that dulled a bit.
Blizzard are aware of the community’s frustrations with the ARG, and would probably do it different given the option. “I think we also learned a lot of lessons by doing it this way,” says Day. “If we were to do it in the future we would make some changes perhaps, but it was a really cool experience to interact with the community and see the community actually come together.”
Given the way Overwatch tells its story is almost entirely through ARG-like hints and extended universe addons, it won’t be long until we see more tangled walls of red strings. Hopefully, Sombra was our last countdown.