Recently, I came across a Forbes article that just baffled me beyond belief. What the fuck happened to video games to where a headline like “Can ‘Overwatch‘ Succeed Just By Being Fun” can exist? The video game industry has become so consumed by the idea of consumer value, overpopulating maps with chores, tacked on single player and multiplayer modes, and more content that you could ever need or want that somewhere along the line we stopped worrying about quality and started worrying about how much pointless shit is inside the game.
The stink that arose from The Order: 1886’s campaign length with no multiplayer dominated the internet for weeks. “It’s too short,” “why the fuck should I buy such a short game?” and other comments of the similar ilk surfaced before the game even released. Granted the game was a boring cover shooter with too much nothing in the game play and a half finished story, but its a fine example of just how focused we all are on quantity.
Similar stories were weaved when games like MAG and Shadowrun were announced, but the one that really started the fires was Titanfall. Criticised for it’s lack of single-player all together and lack of variety in its multiplayer, Titanfall was the first to really take the heat for being a multiplayer only AAA retail release.
All of these games have something in common; they were all flops. So, naturally, when Overwatch was announced people were once again skeptical, even though it was a Blizzard game. Was there going to be enough content to keep consumers happy? This sentiment baffles me, with The Witcher 3 being the only non-MMO that comes to mind when considering games that had over a hundred hours of quality content.
Too see people question the financial success of a very fun game, receiving very high praise across the board and a Metacritic aggregate score of 91, is somewhat concerning to me as a gamer. When did fun stop being enough?
“I have no reason to play Overwatch. There are no unlocks to quest for, no content to be discovered, no new weapons to gain or characters to unlock… I have one reason to play Overwatch, and one reason only: it’s fun.” -Dave Thier; Freelance
Like, for a populace that hails short games like Super Mario World, and barren games like Shadow of the Colossus, as some of the greatest games of all time, this stigma of content equaling quality is somewhat discombobulating. I mean, we live in a world where Pong, fucking PONG, a game about two sticks hitting a ball, made Game Informer’s top 200 games of all time.
Ten years ago, all it took for a game to be considered worth your money was whether or not it was fun, and somewhere along the line that got warped into whether or not it has at least an hour of content per dollar.
Well, if Overwatch proves anything, its that fun can still be enough.
Overwatch survives on fun alone. It thrives on one thing and one thing alone; fun. With no progression beyond cosmetics, and only one real way to play as of now, it only has gameplay to offer. You jump into a quick play queue and play a mode that is based on what map you’re playing at random. All Overwatch has to offer is a multiplayer mode and near nothing else. There’s barely any story, and what story ties together the fun and quirky cast while entertaining is completely external.
And the sales reflect the game’s success at being fun and fun alone. While there aren’t any concrete numbers yet, we know the game sold out on fucking Amazon, which is pretty much unheard of, and we know it’s Blizzard’s fastest selling console title along with topping UK sales charts (beating Uncharted 4 for fuck’s sake and that game is also a beautiful cinnamon roll. A really morally terrible murderous cinnamon roll.) Granted Blizzard has only released a handful of console titles, including Diablo III and that weird Starcraft game for 64, its not a bad sign. With ten million players in the beta we can expect the numbers to be pretty high.
Not to mention the rollicking success of the beta alone, spawning meme after meme and starting a tidal wave of Overwatch praise before the game was even released. Talk for Overwatch has dominated my social media and even my workplace, and all of it positive (except for my girlfriend who thinks I play it too much. In her words; “its all over the place like a big party I wasn’t invited to.”)
Overwatch is nothing if not a success. Its not only sold well, its dominated the hearts and minds of its player. Its a perfectly balanced, incredibly well designed class based objective shooter that offers absolutely nothing but the fun. Its completely skill based, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it emerged in esports after the competitive mode drops in the next few weeks.
I can only hope Overwatch sends a message to big budget AAA developers like Ubisoft and EA that fun is just as valuable as content. Its a dream I know, but hopefully someday we can have more developers focusing on creating a tight, perfectly designed experience rather than just flooding their product with shit.