If you haven’t watch it already, you should check out full Overwatch feature series, The Story of Overwatch. While the series goes in-depth with the origins of Overwatch and includes stories from a wide range of Blizzard developers, we’ve included the full interview with Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice president of story and franchise development, below.
Metzen introduced the world to Overwatch at Blizzcon 2014. Here’s the story of how it got there.
GameSpot: You’ve been at this company for a long time; what was the first project you worked on?
Chris Metzen: The first project I worked on at Blizzard was, I believe, Justice League Task Force. I came in–I had never animated a thing in my life, but the boss saw that I could draw and that there was something there in this nineteen-year-old punk. So they stuck me on learning Deluxe Animator, which was a pretty simplistic program back in the day where you animate four frames at a time.
Was that Commodore?
No it was, what would you call it back in the day? Just DOS.
Was it a form of Deluxe Paint?
Yeah, they were sister products.
So, I animated a number of characters on Justice League or, rather, I rough-animated them and a brother named Dave Berggren had to clean up every one of my frames. I couldn’t quite get the anti-aliasing technique down, but it was super fun and I learned a lot. It wasn’t really until about a year later, after I got hired, we were really sparking the ideas for Warcraft II, and I fired up, “You know, I’ve got this idea for a story!” The boss heard me out, and as fate would have it, he took another chance on me and let me write Warcraft II. And it’s been a crazy journey ever since.
You’ve had your finger in most, if not all, of Blizzard’s games since the early ’90s.
For good or ill [laughs]. I’ve had a unique and distinct opportunity to really get under the hood on all of our universes. I’ve gotten to work, to greater or lesser degrees, on almost all of our major games in different capacities. It’s been super fun to have a sense of our different teams and all the talent across the studio, and getting to partner with so many different great lead designers and now creative directors and art directors.
Looking back now, I understand that, more than chasing big ideas themselves, which I would have told you as a younger man was all I was about, was the craftsmanship. Now I look back and understand it was about connection; it was about getting to work with people in concert and developing relationships and trust. Running with people creatively has been the most amazing thing about this job, so I still I still love to create things; I like chasing big ideas. But I particularly like doing it with people that are passionate, giving everything they have to build these big weird ideas.
From talking to a lot of your team here today, it’s sounds like there is a large affinity with the culture that exists here. People seem to change roles a lot as well from job to job, and one thing I’ve heard a lot from people is, “Where would you go? There are some games that only Blizzard can make.” And that’s what keeps them.
It galvanizes the group together. Yeah, it’s an interesting culture here; there are not a lot of shops like ours left that have been running for 25 years. There are not a lot of groups that have stayed together that long. It’s almost like being in a band; how many bands are together after 25 years? The ones that are, that you can name, have made a real mark. And you can say Blizzard’s made a real distinct mark. It is uniquely because of how people have held together over time, and how we’ve developed this kind of tribal instinct and tribal knowledge about the kind of products we want to build and how far we’re willing to go with and for each other to build them.
It’s never just been about commerce, it’s been about people pulling together and learning, refining, and gaining experience. It sounds like an adventure party in that way, and in some ways perhaps it is. Not ironically. But the cultural aspect of this shop is massive; it’s the secret sauce. It’s the thing that holds us all together.
Let’s speak to the early 2000s, an era when Blizzard was very well known as this house that was able to create wonderful strategy games. What was the impetus behind getting into the MMO space for Blizzard?
That’s what we were playing. We’ve always committed to do video games based on what we’re all playing at the time and having fun with. And by virtue of playing whatever genre at the time, we’d always sit back, or when we’d go to lunch, we’d ask, “What would you do? Are there optimizations? What would our version of that be? Could we push that? Could we make it more accessible to people? Can we chop out this part and add in this part?”
As game developers, we were always ruminating on that kind of stuff, and at the time, we were all playing EverQuest. So it seemed very organic to ask, “How would we do one of these things?” At the time we were developing Warcraft III, and a component of Warcraft III, having come so long after Warcraft II was that we had a lot of big-world ideas. I wanted to push the world out and develop a new continent, Kalimdor, and this ancient mythology coming back around. I had some ideas I wanted to hook, so for my nickel, the ideas we discussed were, “What if we build it out in a world?” And the response was, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” All sorts of hooks. So to me, it seemed very organic.
The ironic thing was we had no idea at the time how difficult it would really be, what it would ask of us. Of all the calories we would have to burn in insane ways to just get the thing built. And then, of course, came the madness of it working. Of publishing the game and all the server problems we had. The high-class problems, you could say, of so many people wanting to come and play. It seemed to have worked so well that we were not prepared for the sheer weight of the audience that wanted to come in. Then we had completely different types of problems, and suddenly this plucky, small game developer is becoming, slowly, or not so slowly, a global service provider.
You were forced to grow, almost.
What are we prepared to spend the next five years of our lives on together?
Yeah, looking back, it’s almost like we were just holding the tiger by the tail, just holding on for dear life in so many ways. But we learned a lot of lessons and we we held it together. And a lot of holding it together and going through that transition as a company, as a group of people, as a band, through all that really difficult, tumultuous change…I think we were able to weather all of that because of our culture and the values that we shared. We were in it as much for each other as for the product’s potential.
And you came off of World of Warcraft…I say “came off,” but the game is still being played by millions of people today and still has expansion packs over a decade later. But you are at least past the initial wave of that immense success.
We think we know what we’re doing, we think we’re OK.
Right, you made essentially the biggest game anyone could have imagined. But it seemed like with what you ended up doing with Titan…was that a little bit too much for Blizzard?
You know, it’s interesting looking back. I think with Titan, WoW made us into a different kind of developer. And I think that success, how could it not affect your thinking in many ways? On one level, we were feeling the success and thinking, “We could turn around and do another one of those. How hard was it? Does anyone remember how rough it was the first time? [laughs]
But for all the 10,000 wheels you need to reinvent just to make one of these work, maybe there was a little bit of pridefulness in thinking that we just turn right around and rock one out. And I think on another front, we had a self-expectation of, “Is this the kind of company we are? Are we the MMO company?” Because at the time you’ll remember there were a lot of them coming out. Planning Blizzard’s future–do we need to have established another one of these big monsters? Is that who we are now? I think there was a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves to want to deliver something a lot like WoW. And it led us down strange paths.
I won’t linger on the Titan stuff too much, but I want to talk about it in the ramp up to Overwatch. I heard you talk in Blizzcon 2014 about those difficult years. Video games, from an outside perspective, seem like they involve such an incredible amount of work. A game, even if it gets canceled, is years of your life. It must feel like you’ve lost years of your life, especially as a creative person.
I think that that’s right. I think at the point at which we, how do I say this, shut Titan off, we were pretty low. And being very honest about it, we weren’t used to feeling that way. We had had so much good luck and put so much of ourselves into every game that had come, it had just been the heavens open for us for so long. Feeling effective and confident and competent at the things that we chose to explore, the products we chose to build. So, failing was rough, and it tested us in ways that we had not been tested before.
That’s why, as we attempted to regroup and build a new idea, we decided to do it in very different ways and account for the things that might have led us down those weirder paths with with the previous MMO idea. We had to pull together, we had to take an honest, naked audit of what got us there and how we wanted to work going forward, how we were going to look at each other and treat each other and invest in each other regardless of what we made next. It was a it was a big spiritual turn for us where we had to get back to basics and remember, past all the scale of the World of Warcraft business or the scale of any of the business, what are we really about? What are we really doing? Are we just just selling product for a corporation? That’s a part of it, but we’re artists and craftsmen and technologists; writers and poets, and all that coming together to build something that’s greater than any of us could have achieved on our own.
That has always been the story of Blizzard. And when we recognize that and come back to that very simple stance, as we look around at each other, that is always where we’ve been strongest. Not worrying about the scale of the business. Not worrying about the scale and specificity of the video game we’re trying to build for twelve different genius reasons. It’s coming back to people. What are we prepared to spend the next five years of our lives on together?
In some ways we lost connectivity with each other. And everyone started going off to their own camps and building their own parts and just trying to protect the part of it that they can be uniquely responsible for.
It seems like that might have been an important milestone in your guys as a team as a culture. There was a lot going on. The StarCraft project was three games, and Diablo III was coming back; was it just a matters of pausing for a second and taking stock?
Absolutely. We needed that moment of clarity and just to pull back and remember who we are and why we really do this stuff. Why do we sacrifice like we do and why do we work like we work? Why do we push so damn hard? For each other.
Rekindling that sense of fraternity and unity allowed everything that is Overwatch. And in so many ways, Overwatch is, from from its themes to its gameplay, everything about this project whether that’s visible to the end user or not, is our story. It is it is a redemption story for us as people and as craftsmen. I don’t mean so much about Blizzard in general, you know, things are great. But we needed this as people. And I love how it just continues to echo. From the way we developed the the game to the way the team just relates, to the way that the team’s leadership communicates where we’re at, what we’re doing, and how important every little component, every person on the team is. It has just been a new day, and every aspect of the product reflects that. It feels like it has a spirit and an inertia and an excitement and a freshness that excites people. And that comes from the reality. That’s what the team’s feeling for each other.
What was the seed during that time that ended up blossoming into Overwatch? The way you guys tackle game design seems all-encompassing: design, art, nothing is off the table in terms of genre, but what was the starting point?
I see it now looking back, I wouldn’t have phrased it this way when we began, but as I look back now at those days, which were tough, the theme that I can phrase now that I didn’t know how to phrase then, was how we are with each other as people has to be as important as our craftsmanship. As the purity of the game design, as the crispness and exciting aspects of the art, or even the stories we chase–how it all comes together is so informed by how we’re doing as a group of people. And making sure that as many people as possible on the team, and I think on this team it’s everybody, has a sense of ownership and a stake in it. A feeling that they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves.
Maybe sometimes I look back to Titan and where we got a little squirrely under the weight of this giant idea we were chasing. In some ways we lost connectivity with each other. And everyone started going off to their own camps and building their own parts and just trying to protect the part of it that they can be uniquely responsible for. We frayed a little bit, and we lost that space where we were so strong, where we pull it back together and everyone shares a little bit of the big picture. That’s the theme I think that it it all goes back to: how we are as craftsman is as important as the craftsmanship itself.
I talked to a lot of your team about what happened in those years between Titan and Blizzcon 2014; I’ve asked everyone about where they were when it happened. I was in the crowd myself when you showed off the game for the first time. What was that feeling like?
That was one of the most amazing moments ever in my career. And I’ve been doing this for 22 plus years. I know I seem like a big ham up there, but I get incredibly nervous and anxious before going on that stage; it’s almost on the verge of a panic attack. It’s why I’m such a nervous wreck up there all the time. I remember feeling the same thing when I walked out–more often than not you walk out and there’s [makes wooshing sound], “Alright.” It’s the adrenalin and everything, and it’s the weirdest thing. But you remember that it’s all just geeks like you, and it’s all good.
I walked out, and I was so excited to share this thing with the world. I was trying to hopefully do a good job and set it up really well; I had a thousand things running through my head. And I looked out, it makes me emotional now–I am a very sensitive, emotional Irish dude, and it’s hard for me to contain my excitement and passion all the time. So those moments where you’re so peaked and there’s thousands of people in the room, it is rough to keep it together for me. It’s actually making me misty now. I remember looking and thinking, “OK, this is going OK so far.” I’m about to do the thing, and I see, I can’t remember who it was anymore, but one section back I see a couple of familiar faces of my team, my brothers and sisters in there. And everybody’s owning the moment together, and I almost started crying. As excited as I was to tell the world about Overwatch, and as excited as I am about Overwatch, I was so overjoyed for my friends. Whether one kid in that room liked it or not didn’t matter. It was that we built this thing together; that we pulled our boots back on after falling in the dust a few short years before, and we pulled it together and we did a good job for each other. And we built this idea that just delights us.
I was so proud of us in that moment, more than Overwatch itself. Just like, “Guys, we did it.” In a stupid way, the thing that flashed through my head was, “We’re back.” Back from where, I don’t know. But just that feeling of, “We did it. We climbed the mountain. I hope people dig it, but I almost don’t care.” I mean, I certainly care, but I care a lot more about this culture and this shop and this family and these kids. And that’s what was so emotional in that moment. And then for the thing to play in that room, where they had no idea what they’re looking at, the roar and the excitement and the acceptance of the crowd going, “OK, Blizzard, we’re in! We don’t don’t know where we’re going, and we don’t know where you’re taking us.” But that was pretty rad. That was an incredible feeling. And it paced through the entire weekend, which was part of why in that interview afterwards I looked like I was just completely drained of life. It’s because you’re just coming down from the biggest high of excitement in that room, and it was an interesting couple days.
It was exciting for us as gamers because, I think, it was Blizzard taking a punt at something that had been seemingly beaten into the ground. But there’s a respect within the gaming community that, “OK, you’ve done this before. You’ve wandered into a genre you had no stake in and you made it your own, and you taught new lessons. If they’re gonna try this, then that’s actually kind of cool.” What was it like jumping into the first-person space?
I want to say terrifying, you know? No safety net. Like, “What could you guys possibly be thinking when there’s so many shops in the industry that are world-class experts at this content?” But I believe Jeff Kaplan had an instinct of the product he wanted to make–how it would feel and the fantasy experience of being in it engaged with other players. I have massive belief and faith and trust in Jeff. We followed him right into it, and he’s done us all well. Dude is an epic product developer, and it was real easy for me to follow him into the breach. I wanted to build a superhero-y kind of universe; I loved the idea from the get-go and was just so ready for this kind of idea. And doing it a little different, building a universe in a very different way than we had before seemed like a really great challenge that I personally needed–to feel the lightning coursing through an idea again after working on the other worlds for for so many years, which has just been a gift. It was fun to launch something new in a very different way, and trying to approach the fiction and the construction of the big universe idea in a very different way.
I mean that’s got to be a worry for anyone in any creative field: that at a certain stage you make your magnum opus. When you’re coming off the back of writing World of Warcraft, in terms of scalability, where do you go from there? You’re telling a story in a totally different manner, not just to other Blizzard properties, but to a lot of video games.
Totally. Going back to Warcraft II or StarCraft or even Diablo, which is a little more organic than StarCraft or Warcraft, it’s funny, just like a magic manual. I would just go and [makes typing noises] write all this lore and background back in the day. Everything is about disparate sets of ideas, and by lining up set of ideas in the right harmonic way, you get a world. And then you keep refining and polishing your set and adding in new sets. So I loved the science of aligning ideas for purpose. I would do these big manuals and I would come back to the team and say, “Look! Check out all this stuff. This comes from here and this and that, which is probably why this alien should be a little more like this. Because now look at how all these line up!”
In general my teammates were like, “OK, OK, let’s run with that.” And even something as big World of Warcraft, that’s really where it started. My funny story where, when I was working on Warcraft II, for purposes of online multiplayer I’m at that point where we’re adding unit colors, some of which were brown and pink and white. It just drove me crazy from an OCD standpoint, and I was thinking, “This is never gonna work. Yellow Orcs? This is ridiculous.” So I started coming up with a fictional rationale for answering, “Why is my army yellow?” And that’s essentially where the orc clans and the human nations at that time in Warcraft II really came from. Gilneas and Alertac and the Burning Blade. It was just to not feel so awkward when I had to play a purple army.
Now fifteen years later that’s the linchpin of a movie.
I just can’t even tell you how insane all that is. But essentially, all those older games, I would just download all of this lore, and then talk to people like Sam Didier or other creative partners and ask, “Is this cool? Does this feel right?” And then just get the group’s feedback and refine and keep moving the idea forward.
With Overwatch, what was really canny and really freeing in a way that I never would have anticipated is, “What if I don’t do that? What if it isn’t this giant download?” But we needed a hook, and the hook was, “Well, we have this group called Overwatch. The world was doing great, and then at the height of its time, it collapses in a mystery.” And it was just the simplest framing idea, and then people would ask, “Why would it collapse? Overwatch is awesome. We should just have it be who you are.”
But no, if it’s collapsed, there’s mystery. There’s engagement. It just demands that this question be answered. And that’s where the tension lies as we fill this vacuum of space full of characters. We decided to not build out a lot of lore and just let the damn idea breathe. But when new lore is included, it’s only to facilitate new characters as they come in. “So, who’s this character from Russia? Who’s this character from China?” And there, the specificity of their personality, their abilities, their power set, the weapons they use, and their function within the world–it creates this lattice work, almost like a quilt of disparate ideas that can breathe on their own but also click into this big growing metashape that, so far, doesn’t feel too top-heavy. It doesn’t demand much of the player, but it’s there if you want to find it. It’s there if you go to the website, and we’re obviously developing a lot of fictional product to fill out this big tapestry.
We have awesome stories for Overwatch. It’s actually a big, bitchin’, rich, world idea. But it leads us this time. We haven’t over-engineered it, and so that’s very freeing, for me in particular and I think for the dev team too. It creates the kind of universe where anyone can hook an idea and add to it and breathe more life into it. It feels more like like a communal universe.
It’s very trusting of game players and everyone within gaming because it seems like, when you try anything new in video games now, people shout at you for why you’re doing it wrong. But trying to create a new way of not explicitly telling people, especially for Blizzard–your fans, and I’m a Blizzard fan, love having that lore. Like having that that atlas of World of Warcraft. It exists, it’s physical. It’s difficult because you want the carrot on the stick, but don’t want people to feel like they’re also being taken for a ride.
To not feel lost, yeah. It’s definitely a different way of going about it our hope has been that these episodes we’ve been working on, which is just one of the most fun projects we’ve done in years, that they fill in enough, not necessarily the the perfect scope of the world, but just that they’re these very distinct, short stories that fill things in. Where you go, “I get it. I get the tone. I get this world.” The Widowmaker episode is much darker than the first one. It’s almost the extremes of the gamut of tone and theme that Overwatch is inherently based on.
I’m fascinated to see what people think and how does that fill out their picture of the world? More than just Widowmaker or whoever is involved in an episode, how does it make them feel and what kind of new questions does it get them to ask about this unfolding tapestry? That’s what’s fun about it. It doesn’t feel tracked, the highway is completely open for us to explore themes and ideas and it’s super liberating. I hope that we have enough of a hook in people that they feel consistently engaged. And whatever tickle they’re getting about wanting to know about this or that is definitely being scratched.
As somebody who is involved in creating universes, after a while you must have have gotten used to watching people cosplay as characters you had a part in creating. After a while, does that become commonplace? And has Overwatch given you a new kind of lease on life in that respect?
It’s interesting, I wanna see the last Blizzcon was our 9th or 10th [editor’s note: It was the ninth.], which is nuts. And if you do anything long enough or are exposed to anything long enough, everything becomes commonplace over time. Or can. Luckily it’s once a year, so it doesn’t get all that commonplace–it still trips me out walking through Blizzcon and seeing Taurens, Death Knights, or a Murloc walking by. It’s just, “Wow.”
There is no greater evidence of a person’s passion for a thing than them literally stepping into the idea. Let alone all the craftsmanship of developing really bitching costumes is just something that I’m delighted by. Just watching the work that these people have put into what they want to wear and inhabit is one of the most fun things to watch and be part of. So I don’t think it ever gets old.
I will say, relative to Overwatch and the fact that the game wasn’t out yet, that we had talked about it the previous year. And to see so many people show up cosplaying Overwatch characters was mind blowing. Just as proof the experiment’s working. I think people are starting to really feel something for these characters. I think they’re starting to grasp the visuals. It’s like, “This costumes bitching,” or, “I want to be that character.” It’s such a rewarding thing to experience; is there any purer way of someone expressing their love for an idea than inhabiting the idea? It’s very humbling; it’s just mind blowing.
I’m looking forward to this year because now the ideas have had time to percolate a little bit, and people have been playing the beta. Folks are streaming it. These episodes are coming out and providing, I would argue, some much-needed context. So what’ll it be like this year? What will that population of cosplay be? Obviously Warcraft’s our flagship product, and 12 years of Warcraft has some beloved archetypes and icons. But I love the idea that we might see more Overwatch cosplay this year. It’s such an interesting litmus test of where people are at and what they’re passionate about.
I feel that there has been a lot of crossover with Blizzard fans into various genres. I think a lot of people ran into the world of MMOs with you for the first time because of their love for the older games. And certainly with games like Hearthstone, there’s a lot of common ground between those. Do you think that there are going to be a lot of WoW fans and StarCraft fans who are going to go with you guys?
I hope that there will be a lot of crossover from Warcraft/StarCraft/Diablo fans into Overwatch. I think we’ve seen a bit of that over time, like you said, there were a lot of people that came with us on this World of Warcraft journey that wouldn’t normally have picked up an MORG or would have been intimidated by the UI or the usability. I hope that will occur, and when i when i think about it, we’ve had a few discussions about it here. In this day and age what does that little blue logo mean to people? Or I guess sometimes it’s gold or red depending on the game you’re playing. But I think we’ve been at this for so long and really tried over the years to give all of our passion and thought into these products.
My hope is that over time gamers just go, “I get these guys. I know what they do. Oh, you’ve got a new interactive online card game? That’s really weird but, you know, I’ve liked the last three or four things you guys have done. Screw it. I’ll try it out.” There’s a continuity there, I think our players know they can trust us to to be consistent and and to give everything we’ve got. So I hope that that’s still in play. I hope that people that would never pick up a team-based shooter or venture into the shooter land, that can be very intimidating to people, I hope they give it a shot. We’ve taken them for rides before, and they’ve had fun. And that continuity remains. It’s always rolling the dice on a new idea, but I think our very passionate player base will take the chance with us.
One of the things that seems very consistent throughout Blizzard’s games especially since online play has become more ubiquitous, is you guys seem to spend a lot of time ensuring that players don’t have negative experiences. Or, at least, you try to shield them from the negative experiences that seem to be…
Socially, you mean?
Yes, that seem more prolific in other games. Already we can see with Overwatch that kill-death ratios are not on the screen. You’re already putting in elements of design to ensure that people are playing collectively. Is that just something that runs through Blizzard’s DNA? Because, I mean, you’re responsible for X number of marriages and whatnot through World of Warcraft?
I think it does. From from a certain perspective, the most important thing that makes Blizzard work after all these years, is actually not any single product; it’s community. It’s building products that people can come and play together, and have fun playing together, that are not overly exclusive or turning you away before you’ve even taken a chance on it. It’s allowing for products where people can relate and have fun and go, “Let’s group up! Let’s join a guild! Whatever!” So, I think that’s always in the back of our minds.
I think it’s helped us recalibrate our our self-expectations, our vision of who we are as Blizzard.
Ultimately this business is about people. It’s about entertaining people and drawing them in and providing these spaces to have fun and get lost and, you know, fire laser guns at each other. Whatever it is, whatever the specific product is, I think there’s always that fundamental aspect that it is about people playing together and that sense of community. It’s where we are strongest as a product developer, and when are strongest as a publisher. The center of this community of people around the world is remembering that it really is ultimately about people. People want a sense of belonging. They want to relate. They want to reach out and be engaged by people. How funny is it that our version of that is through these games, these fictional worlds we’ve built? It’s the truth. Ultimately, we all want to belong, and I think as long as we keep that square in our sights, we’ll be alright. We’re gonna maintain our True North. It’s more than just video games.
And how important is it to the creative people here at Blizzard who toil on games for half a decade a pop, or much more…
We’re doing better. [laughs]
What’s it like, not just for the Overwatch team, but just for the culture of a company like this, to have a new IP that people are excited about? You could very easily get stuck in your old franchises, especially when a lot of your old franchises go back as far as the previous millennium.
I think Overwatch is a big deal to us. At the time that we announced it, it was the first new, big IP, world idea in about 17 years. How is that possible? Time moves fast. And I think it was really important for us to prove that we still had it in the tank. Just as creatives together, knowing that we can summon that lightning again, and summon ideas that potentially compel people to come and play. I think the need to prove ourselves was really, really big following Titan, to ourselves. So it is wonderful that this idea got momentum, and we were able to realize it and bring it to the world. I think sometimes it just helps you stay fresh, it helps you stay vital. A new set of ideas; a new set of parameters; a new, open highway ahead is really important for us, I think, as a company and as a group of craftsmen.
I still love Diablo. I still love StarCraft. I still love WoW. I’m so excited for Legion–it’s some of the coolest stuff we’ve developed in years. It is a cool new chapter of Warcraft. So even the more venerable franchises still turn me on like they always did, but I think we needed a new kind of shot in the arm as well, just to grow and stretch and stretch ourselves as creative people. Identifying new mountains to climb. In climbing the mountain you test your character, and you test your mettle when you learn new skills. I think it’s important for companies that are as old we are, 25 years, your thinking can become a little institutional. With any company that has had the history that we’ve had.
Success can be a double-edge sword.
Yeah. Success can be a double-edged sword, and nothing tests your character like success. I can tell you, in having had the opportunity to build a new franchise, it’s been really healthy. It’s been really good for us. And like I said earlier, we needed a new kind of challenge as a house of ideas, as a fraternity of craftsmen, we needed the challenge. Not that the other games don’t have their own unique challenges, for sure, but I think it’s helped us round out. I think it’s helped us recalibrate our our self-expectations, our vision of who we are as Blizzard. And just to feel that there’s new lightning to chase. There are new highways ahead. It’s been a real gift.
Who are you playing in Overwatch right now? Or who was your go-to character the last time you played?
I’m alternating between D.va and Reaper for very different reasons. I’m a pretty middle of the road kind of gamer, I’m not a super shooter player, by any means. I’m old and slow, and I don’t see very well. So I get a kick out of D.va and Reaper’s been fun. I played him a lot really early on, so it’s been fun to come back to him. He’s very satisfying when you’re really in your zone, and just dealin’ it. “Never stop making them pay,” is the thing.
I have a deep love for Soldier: 76, whose design is a little more akin to my level of play. But I think Reaper right now, I’m getting a kick out of as I’m re-learning and re-aligning.
Final question: Overwatch is obviously not the first game that Blizzard has had on a console, but you’re going to break out into what is the biggest space for first-person shooters. You’re gonna break out into, presumably, a lot of people who might have heard of Blizzard, and of course everyone and their mother knows World of Warcraft, even if they don’t know what it is. Do you think at Blizzcon 2016 you’re going to have a lot of new Blizzard fans? A lot of people who have never been to a Blizzcon before.
I hadn’t really had that thought yet. That’s crazy. It’s possible; that’s a real fun thing to think about. Boy, I hope that happens. In some ways, it’s got to. You gotta keep staying fresh and relevant. And how much fun is the idea that a lot of console gamers might come in and say, “Hey, I like what these guys are about.” I love that. I’m just, “More people into the pool party! Be responsible and have fun; bring your floaties.” But I love the idea that the audience could grow.
It keeps us learning. It’s a whole other group of gamers with very different instincts and wants and desires and opinions about things. How rad to bring that into the calculus, in terms of how it forces us to grow and account for this big band of people that we want to be engaged with too, and engage with each other. It’s cool.
Thanks very much, and best of luck with the launch of Overwatch.
Thank you! [laughs] Fingers crossed!