Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. Described as a "hero shooter", Overwatch assigns players into two teams of six, with each player selecting from a roster of over 30 characters, known as "heroes," each with a unique style of play that is divided into three general roles that fit their purpose. Players on a team work together to secure and defend control points on a map or escort a payload across the map in a limited amount of time. Players gain cosmetic rewards that do not affect gameplay, such as character skins and victory poses, as they play the game. The game was initially launched with only casual play, but a competitive ranked mode, various 'arcade' game modes, and a player-customizable server browser were added after release. Additionally, Blizzard has added new characters, maps, and game modes post-release, all free of charge, with the only additional cost to players being optional loot boxes to earn cosmetic items. It was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows in May 2016, and Nintendo Switch in October 2019.
Overwatch is Blizzard's fourth major franchise and came about following the 2014 cancellation of the ambitious massively multiplayer online role-playing game Titan. A portion of the Titan team came up with the concept of Overwatch, based on the success of team-based first-person shooters like Team Fortress 2 and the popularity of multiplayer online battle arena games, creating a hero-based shooter that emphasized teamwork. Some elements of Overwatch borrow assets and concepts from the canceled Titan project. After establishing the narrative of an optimistic near-future Earth setting after a global crisis, the developers aimed to create a diverse cast of heroes that spanned genders and ethnicities as part of this setting. Significant time is spent adjusting the balance of the characters, making sure that new players would still be able to have fun while skilled players would present each other with a challenge.
Overwatch was unveiled at the 2014 BlizzCon event and was in a closed beta from late 2015 through early 2016. An open beta before release drew in nearly 10 million players. The release of the game was promoted with short animated videos to introduce the narrative and characters. Overwatch received universal acclaim from critics, who praised the game for its accessibility, diverse appeal of its hero characters, bright cartoonish art style, and enjoyable gameplay. Blizzard reported over US$1 billion in revenue during the first year of its release and had more than 50 million players after three years. Overwatch is considered to be among the greatest video games of all time, receiving numerous game of the year awards and other accolades. The game is also a popular esport, with Blizzard funding and producing the global Overwatch League.
Shooters don't always need to be dark, gritty, or realistic. Cartoony fun has its place, too. Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch is a prime example of exactly that, with its colorful levels, multiple game modes that focus on teams attacking and defending, characters with vastly different play styles, and a few MOBA-like twists. Overwatch is a thoroughly enjoyable first-person shooter that's filled with mechanical variety, but it has one glaring problem—its awful micro-transaction structure.
A sequel, Overwatch 2, was announced in 2019 and will include new player versus environment (PvE) co-operative multiplayer modes. In addition, it will have a shared competitive multiplayer environment, allowing players of both games to play against each other. While it will be sold as a separate game, all new heroes, maps, and competitive gamemodes will also exist in Overwatch.