OW update/balancing cycle is excruciatingly slow: Part 2

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I lost the last of my faith after hog got gutted.

I guess now it's either get good with a dive character or don't bother playing.

Anyways law breakers is out in a month, so I'm hoping that's good.
It's not like this thread matters all that much. I don't think the community has any say in their decisions and the most impact this thread could have is to make them stop reading the forums (not that they'd actually take much of what they read in).

Now, a respected caster complaining that they're a bad business partner has some more weight. However, we as their customers we aren't really in a position like that. Organizing protest and pitchforks just makes us look entitled and quite honestly, it would be a bit much effort over a video game. That is especially true if at the same time people keep buying lootboxes like crazy during events painting the game a huge success.

The only reasonable way this ends is to just move onto other, better games. Don't waste your time here. Blizz didn't ask you to participate in this game's well being and development. You're just here for the tasting and either their soup sells or fails.

Edit: To clearify, I absolutely love getting involved in games and their development even if it's just on a suggestion box basis. I would adore and worship the !@# of anyone who releases such games (and there are people like that!).

Blizzard just doesn't make games this way. Their internal, private testing and collected data make up 95% of their rationale. The forum is just interesting to watch how people deal with things and how we percieve their game.
Reading the various quotes that get thrown around here, it's probably their fixed goal to never tinker with or cater to our perception. Their update / balancing cycle isn't slow - we are just disconnected from it.
07/07/2017 10:58 AMPosted by Escadin
It's not like this thread matters all that much. I don't think the community has any say in their decisions and the most impact this thread could have is to make them stop reading the forums (not that they'd actually take much of what they read in).

Now, a respected caster complaining that they're a bad business partner has some more weight. However, we as their customers we aren't really in a position like that. Organizing protest and pitchforks just makes us look entitled and quite honestly, it would be a bit much effort over a video game. That is especially true if at the same time people keep buying lootboxes like crazy during events painting the game a huge success.

The only reasonable way this ends is to just move onto other, better games. Don't waste your time here. Blizz didn't ask you to participate in this game's well being and development. You're just here for the tasting and either their soup sells or fails.

Edit: To clearify, I absolutely love getting involved in games and their development even if it's just on a suggestion box basis. I would adore and worship the !@# of anyone who releases such games (and there are people like that!).

Blizzard just doesn't make games this way. Their internal, private testing and collected data make up 95% of their rationale. The forum is just interesting to watch how people deal with things and how we percieve their game.
Reading the various quotes that get thrown around here, it's probably their fixed goal to never tinker with or cater to our perception. Their update / balancing cycle isn't slow - we are just disconnected from it.


A respected caster told them all their issues, Multiple teams have left, some of the big pros also left or simply stream like Seagull, what more do they need?
I’ve been reading the feedback regarding the current metagame and a general desire for “radical” balance changes to mix things up. I’ll offer some of my personal perspective but I’m a little nervous doing that for a few reasons. Even though I am the Game Director and a spokesperson for OW, I don’t make decisions in a vacuum and I am only one part of a very awesome team. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and we have different opinions on the state of game and balance overall. We do have a lot of alignment, but we talk things through – a lot. And we don’t always agree. So I know this will become the “official” response on the subject but I am really offering this from a very strong personal viewpoint first and foremost.

The most controversial thing I’ll say here (hopefully) is that I believe the game is currently balanced. What I mean is that I don’t feel like there are any heroes who are way too strong to the point of breaking balance. That doesn’t mean that I personally don’t think there are some problems with heroes. While I believe moving Roadhog away from a 1 shot combo was a necessary thing we had to do, I’m not entirely satisfied with where he’s at right now. I also think we need to do some brainstorming when it comes to Mercy’s resurrect, for example. The ability is extremely powerful in a very unfun way for both Mercy and everyone playing against that Mercy. But it’s not doomsday. These aren’t game breaking issues. They are better fixed slowly and carefully as the overall game is not ruined by them. I’m just using these as examples.

But I think the game is balanced. Statistically, the things that are most unbalanced aren’t what you think they are. Symmetra and Torbjorn win rates are not balanced. They are too good. But this is why we don’t balance on statistics alone. I don’t sense a great community uproar over the fact that Torb and Symmetra are “overpowered” right now (at least, statistically).

As I said last week, the perception of balance is more powerful than balance itself.

I really do not like summarizing the feedback from a large community because I think it’s unfair to so many people. But in general, I am getting the sense that the real issue people are feeling is that the “meta” does not shift as frequently as they would like. My sense is that players start with the pro scene and work their way down and base this feedback mostly on pick rates. In the pro scene, it’s true that the teams settle into using a subset of the hero pool. We tend to see high level (let’s just say the top 3rd of all players) competitive slowly catch up to the pro scene with some considerable lag of weeks if not months. The rest of us – the vast majority of us – don’t really play this meta at all but we’re aware of it either through community discussion or because we enjoy watching the pro scene.

There are a lot of ways the meta can change but if I had to boil it down to three main ways (that we see in video games at least) I would point to 1) something changes with the balance 2) players innovate new strategies 3) the game forces meta change through mechanics.

To comment on all 3…

I like when the meta changes on balance only when the game is not balanced and something was adjusted to make the game more balanced. Another way of putting this is, I do not agree with the philosophy that we should just make balance changes solely to shift people off the meta. The game team should be constantly evaluating balance and making changes that are actually needed because a hero is unbalanced. But making changes to a hero because their pick rate is too high or too low is not my idea of responsible game balance. Symmetra’s pick rate is very low right now. We could make changes to make her a “must pick” in the meta (and thus shifting the meta) but I feel like, if anything, I am concerned about Symmetra’s balance and worried that when she does eventually make her way back into the meta she is not balanced properly. So to summarize: balancing heroes who are unbalanced is good, balancing heroes just to make them picked more or picked less is not good (in my humble opinion).

Regarding the meta changing because players have innovated a new strategy – well – this is the best-case scenario. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. This usually happens in a pro tournament where a team pulls out a new strategy and performs well. This was how triple tank rose into fashion. Innovating out of a meta is extremely hard. All players are very different. Some are highly creative and some are excellent at executing. Some at both. Having the time and freedom to innovate on strategy is difficult no matter what level of play you’re at. Pros have busy schedules and it’s not always easy for them to practice new, out of the box things – especially if their tournament schedule is hectic. But when all is said and done, to me personally, the meta shifting because players innovate is the best possible outcome.

Lastly, a game can force a meta shift through mechanics. The MOBA genre has huge hero pools yet without pick and ban systems teams would inevitably play the same comps over and over. The game – through the mechanics of picking and banning – is forcing variety. We could do this in Overwatch. We could prevent certain heroes from being played some or all of the time or we could let your opponent prevent you from playing your desired hero. We could also force you or allow your opponent to force you to play a hero you don’t want to play. Personally, I am not a believer in these systems for OW (while I understand and respect why they use them in MOBA). I prefer to think that OW allows you to be creative which is different than forces you to be creative. I don’t want to watch the best Genji player in the world play Zarya – I want to see him/her play Genji. And also, seeing how many of you “main” heroes because you love them, I don’t want the game – or your opponent – telling you you’re not allowed to play that hero.

We recently added 6v6 Elimination to the Arcade and I think the mode is strong enough to exist in Quick Play and Competitive. That mode is a good example of a mechanical “forcing function” where the game causes shifts to happen in pick rates and team comps. The winning team is forced to play 18 diverse heroes. I would be willing to bet that if that mode was considered competitive, eventually a meta would settle in where 18 heroes were mostly picked and 7 would be rather neglected. Again, I don’t think this is horrible or the end of the world – I think it’s reality.

There are games with a set meta that evolve very slowly or remain stable for long periods of time and this doesn’t mean the game isn’t balanced or fun or fun to watch. Most of the pro sports fall into this category. TF2 was largely played Demo/Medic/Scout/Scout/Solider/Soldier and that was sort of just… accepted. It was fun to play and fun to watch. Baseball isn’t terrible or broken because every team puts their strongest batter 4th in the lineup.

But maybe I am off on what the expectation is from players here? I know the desire – and mine too – is that during every match of Overwatch all 25 heroes are viable at any time. The reality of gamers and video games is that any perceived (whether real or not) advantage is going to cause players to assume that they must play hero x over hero y. A professional Overwatch player will not player hero x if he/she thinks hero y is even 1% stronger. We can balance the heroes to equality but if there is the slightest perception of advantage, it won’t matter.

Looking at the perception of the meta, it’s obvious that “dive” is the predominant strategy. Correction. It is the predominant strategy being used in the professional scene. The majority of Overwatch players play Quick Play as their primary mode. The top 6 picked heroes (over the last month) in Quick Play are Genji, 76, Hanzo, McCree, Mercy and Junkrat. For the statistical majority of Overwatch players who are not pros and don’t play Competitive, this is your meta.

It drives players crazy when I post stats like that because they want to know about Competitive and not Quick Play. The point I am trying to make by posting Quick Play is that the numbers show that that is what the majority of players are *actually experiencing* which is different from *perceiving*. But looking at Competitive only… here are the top 6 picked heroes: Mercy (by a long shot), 76, D.Va, Lucio, Ana and Genji. Interestingly, number 7 is Reinhardt. Next tank after that is… Wi… no Roadhog. So in the past month in Comp, that’s what you’ve been actually playing.

But let’s talk about the elite players… maybe the top 3rd of all MMR. Their top picked hero over the past month was…. Ana. Yes, Ana.

I don’t mean to discount your fatigue with the “dive” meta but I also want us looking at from a realistic standpoint. Dive itself is an interesting comp. It’s fun to play and watch. It features super high skill heroes doing very OW things. Watching top Genji’s and Tracers is fantastic. I don’t think dive comp is bad but I think what players want is to see more comps in addition to dive comp. I too would love for this to happen. But in a non-forced, non-damaging way. I don’t think we should just throw a balance grenade at the heroes to change pick rates. And I don’t think long-term for the game it’s good to start imposing restrictions on you as to what hero you’re allowed or not allowed to play. I think we also need to be careful about demanding drastic change. A few months ago we nerfed D.Va and we faced the ire of many very upset players who thought we “ruined” the hero and she would never be played again. There was mega thread after mega thread demanding she be buffed. We held our ground because we believed she was fine. We did not touch her. And now she is one of the dominant heroes in the dive meta – clearly not in need of a buff.

Players think that every change we make to hero has the intent of buffing or nerfing that hero. Changes to heroes are usually made to make the game better. That’s what we were trying to do with Roadhog. Our goal wasn’t a nerf – our intent wasn’t a nerf. Our intent was to try to remove a behavior that had become “not ok” with our player base – the one-shot combo. Maybe he needs to be adjusted again? Probably. I am just using this as an example that not everything is super black and white. There is a gray area in making the game feel good. Sometimes we need to hold our ground and not make dramatic swings to the game.

I know this post will be met with a lot of disagreement. The desire for dive comp to go away will not be satisfied from some of you until Winston and D.Va are nerfed into the ground. But we’re not going to do that. We are going to make balance changes to heroes when they need it – and we do this more frequently than you give us credit for. 3 months from now there will be a new meta. If you’re the type of person who feels like the meta should shift every 2 weeks, then you’ll probably be sick of that meta and wishing it was back in the good ol’ dive comp days… I just caution against wanting change for the sake of change. The meta will shift soon enough.
Highly Rated
WOW THIS POST. A great read by all accounts.

EDIT--
As a friendly tip since this is a HUGE post by Jeff, if you want to comment on a specific part of his post, use your mouse to highlight that section and then click the [ " ] button that pops up next to the highlight. Using the [" QUOTE] button at the bottom copies the whole darn thing and will make this page stretch longer than Roadhog's 1.0 hook.
Highly Rated
Holy Moly! This is the blue post we needed!
Highly Rated
07/07/2017 01:26 PMPosted by Jeff Kaplan
I’ve been reading the feedback regarding the current metagame and a general desire for “radical” balance changes to mix things up. I’ll offer some of my personal perspective but I’m a little nervous doing that for a few reasons. Even though I am the Game Director and a spokesperson for OW, I don’t make decisions in a vacuum and I am only one part of a very awesome team. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and we have different opinions on the state of game and balance overall. We do have a lot of alignment, but we talk things through – a lot. And we don’t always agree. So I know this will become the “official” response on the subject but I am really offering this from a very strong personal viewpoint first and foremost.

The most controversial thing I’ll say here (hopefully) is that I believe the game is currently balanced. What I mean is that I don’t feel like there are any heroes who are way too strong to the point of breaking balance. That doesn’t mean that I personally don’t think there are some problems with heroes. While I believe moving Roadhog away from a 1 shot combo was a necessary thing we had to do, I’m not entirely satisfied with where he’s at right now. I also think we need to do some brainstorming when it comes to Mercy’s resurrect, for example. The ability is extremely powerful in a very unfun way for both Mercy and everyone playing against that Mercy. But it’s not doomsday. These aren’t game breaking issues. They are better fixed slowly and carefully as the overall game is not ruined by them. I’m just using these as examples.

But I think the game is balanced. Statistically, the things that are most unbalanced aren’t what you think they are. Symmetra and Torbjorn win rates are not balanced. They are too good. But this is why we don’t balance on statistics alone. I don’t sense a great community uproar over the fact that Torb and Symmetra are “overpowered” right now (at least, statistically).

As I said last week, the perception of balance is more powerful than balance itself.

I really do not like summarizing the feedback from a large community because I think it’s unfair to so many people. But in general, I am getting the sense that the real issue people are feeling is that the “meta” does not shift as frequently as they would like. My sense is that players start with the pro scene and work their way down and base this feedback mostly on pick rates. In the pro scene, it’s true that the teams settle into using a subset of the hero pool. We tend to see high level (let’s just say the top 3rd of all players) competitive slowly catch up to the pro scene with some considerable lag of weeks if not months. The rest of us – the vast majority of us – don’t really play this meta at all but we’re aware of it either through community discussion or because we enjoy watching the pro scene.

There are a lot of ways the meta can change but if I had to boil it down to three main ways (that we see in video games at least) I would point to 1) something changes with the balance 2) players innovate new strategies 3) the game forces meta change through mechanics.

To comment on all 3…

I like when the meta changes on balance only when the game is not balanced and something was adjusted to make the game more balanced. Another way of putting this is, I do not agree with the philosophy that we should just make balance changes solely to shift people off the meta. The game team should be constantly evaluating balance and making changes that are actually needed because a hero is unbalanced. But making changes to a hero because their pick rate is too high or too low is not my idea of responsible game balance. Symmetra’s pick rate is very low right now. We could make changes to make her a “must pick” in the meta (and thus shifting the meta) but I feel like, if anything, I am concerned about Symmetra’s balance and worried that when she does eventually make her way back into the meta she is not balanced properly. So to summarize: balancing heroes who are unbalanced is good, balancing heroes just to make them picked more or picked less is not good (in my humble opinion).

Regarding the meta changing because players have innovated a new strategy – well – this is the best-case scenario. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. This usually happens in a pro tournament where a team pulls out a new strategy and performs well. This was how triple tank rose into fashion. Innovating out of a meta is extremely hard. All players are very different. Some are highly creative and some are excellent at executing. Some at both. Having the time and freedom to innovate on strategy is difficult no matter what level of play you’re at. Pros have busy schedules and it’s not always easy for them to practice new, out of the box things – especially if their tournament schedule is hectic. But when all is said and done, to me personally, the meta shifting because players innovate is the best possible outcome.

Lastly, a game can force a meta shift through mechanics. The MOBA genre has huge hero pools yet without pick and ban systems teams would inevitably play the same comps over and over. The game – through the mechanics of picking and banning – is forcing variety. We could do this in Overwatch. We could prevent certain heroes from being played some or all of the time or we could let your opponent prevent you from playing your desired hero. We could also force you or allow your opponent to force you to play a hero you don’t want to play. Personally, I am not a believer in these systems for OW (while I understand and respect why they use them in MOBA). I prefer to think that OW allows you to be creative which is different than forces you to be creative. I don’t want to watch the best Genji player in the world play Zarya – I want to see him/her play Genji. And also, seeing how many of you “main” heroes because you love them, I don’t want the game – or your opponent – telling you you’re not allowed to play that hero.

We recently added 6v6 Elimination to the Arcade and I think the mode is strong enough to exist in Quick Play and Competitive. That mode is a good example of a mechanical “forcing function” where the game causes shifts to happen in pick rates and team comps. The winning team is forced to play 18 diverse heroes. I would be willing to bet that if that mode was considered competitive, eventually a meta would settle in where 18 heroes were mostly picked and 7 would be rather neglected. Again, I don’t think this is horrible or the end of the world – I think it’s reality.

There are games with a set meta that evolve very slowly or remain stable for long periods of time and this doesn’t mean the game isn’t balanced or fun or fun to watch. Most of the pro sports fall into this category. TF2 was largely played Demo/Medic/Scout/Scout/Solider/Soldier and that was sort of just… accepted. It was fun to play and fun to watch. Baseball isn’t terrible or broken because every team puts their strongest batter 4th in the lineup.

But maybe I am off on what the expectation is from players here? I know the desire – and mine too – is that during every match of Overwatch all 25 heroes are viable at any time. The reality of gamers and video games is that any perceived (whether real or not) advantage is going to cause players to assume that they must play hero x over hero y. A professional Overwatch player will not player hero x if he/she thinks hero y is even 1% stronger. We can balance the heroes to equality but if there is the slightest perception of advantage, it won’t matter.

Looking at the perception of the meta, it’s obvious that “dive” is the predominant strategy. Correction. It is the predominant strategy being used in the professional scene. The majority of Overwatch players play Quick Play as their primary mode. The top 6 picked heroes (over the last month) in Quick Play are Genji, 76, Hanzo, McCree, Mercy and Junkrat. For the statistical majority of Overwatch players who are not pros and don’t play Competitive, this is your meta.

It drives players crazy when I post stats like that because they want to know about Competitive and not Quick Play. The point I am trying to make by posting Quick Play is that the numbers show that that is what the majority of players are *actually experiencing* which is different from *perceiving*. But looking at Competitive only… here are the top 6 picked heroes: Mercy (by a long shot), 76, D.Va, Lucio, Ana and Genji. Interestingly, number 7 is Reinhardt. Next tank after that is… Wi… no Roadhog. So in the past month in Comp, that’s what you’ve been actually playing.

But let’s talk about the elite players… maybe the top 3rd of all MMR. Their top picked hero over the past month was…. Ana. Yes, Ana.

I don’t mean to discount your fatigue with the “dive” meta but I also want us looking at from a realistic standpoint. Dive itself is an interesting comp. It’s fun to play and watch. It features super high skill heroes doing very OW things. Watching top Genji’s and Tracers is fantastic. I don’t think dive comp is bad but I think what players want is to see more comps in addition to dive comp. I too would love for this to happen. But in a non-forced, non-damaging way. I don’t think we should just throw a balance grenade at the heroes to change pick rates. And I don’t think long-term for the game it’s good to start imposing restrictions on you as to what hero you’re allowed or not allowed to play. I think we also need to be careful about demanding drastic change. A few months ago we nerfed D.Va and we faced the ire of many very upset players who thought we “ruined” the hero and she would never be played again. There was mega thread after mega thread demanding she be buffed. We held our ground because we believed she was fine. We did not touch her. And now she is one of the dominant heroes in the dive meta – clearly not in need of a buff.

Players think that every change we make to hero has the intent of buffing or nerfing that hero. Changes to heroes are usually made to make the game better. That’s what we were trying to do with Roadhog. Our goal wasn’t a nerf – our intent wasn’t a nerf. Our intent was to try to remove a behavior that had become “not ok” with our player base – the one-shot combo. Maybe he needs to be adjusted again? Probably. I am just using this as an example that not everything is super black and white. There is a gray area in making the game feel good. Sometimes we need to hold our ground and not make dramatic swings to the game.

I know this post will be met with a lot of disagreement. The desire for dive comp to go away will not be satisfied from some of you until Winston and D.Va are nerfed into the ground. But we’re not going to do that. We are going to make balance changes to heroes when they need it – and we do this more frequently than you give us credit for. 3 months from now there will be a new meta. If you’re the type of person who feels like the meta should shift every 2 weeks, then you’ll probably be sick of that meta and wishing it was back in the good ol’ dive comp days… I just caution against wanting change for the sake of change. The meta will shift soon enough.


Thanks Jeff.
Highly Rated
Fantastic read, thanks for helping give us insight Jeff.
Highly Rated
Thank you Jeff!
I'm especially glad that you think Roadhog could use more adjustment.

Could you comment on speed and increment size of changes?
I think a lot of us feel that balancing is done very slowly and with very large changes each time.
Do you think there is any value in balancing more frequently with smaller changes at this point to minorly tweak the generally balanced hero pool?
07/07/2017 01:26 PMPosted by Jeff Kaplan
I’ve been reading the feedback regarding the current metagame and a general desire for “radical” balance changes to mix things up. I’ll offer some of my personal perspective but I’m a little nervous doing that for a few reasons. Even though I am the Game Director and a spokesperson for OW, I don’t make decisions in a vacuum and I am only one part of a very awesome team. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and we have different opinions on the state of game and balance overall. We do have a lot of alignment, but we talk things through – a lot. And we don’t always agree. So I know this will become the “official” response on the subject but I am really offering this from a very strong personal viewpoint first and foremost.

The most controversial thing I’ll say here (hopefully) is that I believe the game is currently balanced. What I mean is that I don’t feel like there are any heroes who are way too strong to the point of breaking balance. That doesn’t mean that I personally don’t think there are some problems with heroes. While I believe moving Roadhog away from a 1 shot combo was a necessary thing we had to do, I’m not entirely satisfied with where he’s at right now. I also think we need to do some brainstorming when it comes to Mercy’s resurrect, for example. The ability is extremely powerful in a very unfun way for both Mercy and everyone playing against that Mercy. But it’s not doomsday. These aren’t game breaking issues. They are better fixed slowly and carefully as the overall game is not ruined by them. I’m just using these as examples.

But I think the game is balanced. Statistically, the things that are most unbalanced aren’t what you think they are. Symmetra and Torbjorn win rates are not balanced. They are too good. But this is why we don’t balance on statistics alone. I don’t sense a great community uproar over the fact that Torb and Symmetra are “overpowered” right now (at least, statistically).

As I said last week, the perception of balance is more powerful than balance itself.

I really do not like summarizing the feedback from a large community because I think it’s unfair to so many people. But in general, I am getting the sense that the real issue people are feeling is that the “meta” does not shift as frequently as they would like. My sense is that players start with the pro scene and work their way down and base this feedback mostly on pick rates. In the pro scene, it’s true that the teams settle into using a subset of the hero pool. We tend to see high level (let’s just say the top 3rd of all players) competitive slowly catch up to the pro scene with some considerable lag of weeks if not months. The rest of us – the vast majority of us – don’t really play this meta at all but we’re aware of it either through community discussion or because we enjoy watching the pro scene.

There are a lot of ways the meta can change but if I had to boil it down to three main ways (that we see in video games at least) I would point to 1) something changes with the balance 2) players innovate new strategies 3) the game forces meta change through mechanics.

To comment on all 3…

I like when the meta changes on balance only when the game is not balanced and something was adjusted to make the game more balanced. Another way of putting this is, I do not agree with the philosophy that we should just make balance changes solely to shift people off the meta. The game team should be constantly evaluating balance and making changes that are actually needed because a hero is unbalanced. But making changes to a hero because their pick rate is too high or too low is not my idea of responsible game balance. Symmetra’s pick rate is very low right now. We could make changes to make her a “must pick” in the meta (and thus shifting the meta) but I feel like, if anything, I am concerned about Symmetra’s balance and worried that when she does eventually make her way back into the meta she is not balanced properly. So to summarize: balancing heroes who are unbalanced is good, balancing heroes just to make them picked more or picked less is not good (in my humble opinion).

Regarding the meta changing because players have innovated a new strategy – well – this is the best-case scenario. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. This usually happens in a pro tournament where a team pulls out a new strategy and performs well. This was how triple tank rose into fashion. Innovating out of a meta is extremely hard. All players are very different. Some are highly creative and some are excellent at executing. Some at both. Having the time and freedom to innovate on strategy is difficult no matter what level of play you’re at. Pros have busy schedules and it’s not always easy for them to practice new, out of the box things – especially if their tournament schedule is hectic. But when all is said and done, to me personally, the meta shifting because players innovate is the best possible outcome.

Lastly, a game can force a meta shift through mechanics. The MOBA genre has huge hero pools yet without pick and ban systems teams would inevitably play the same comps over and over. The game – through the mechanics of picking and banning – is forcing variety. We could do this in Overwatch. We could prevent certain heroes from being played some or all of the time or we could let your opponent prevent you from playing your desired hero. We could also force you or allow your opponent to force you to play a hero you don’t want to play. Personally, I am not a believer in these systems for OW (while I understand and respect why they use them in MOBA). I prefer to think that OW allows you to be creative which is different than forces you to be creative. I don’t want to watch the best Genji player in the world play Zarya – I want to see him/her play Genji. And also, seeing how many of you “main” heroes because you love them, I don’t want the game – or your opponent – telling you you’re not allowed to play that hero.

We recently added 6v6 Elimination to the Arcade and I think the mode is strong enough to exist in Quick Play and Competitive. That mode is a good example of a mechanical “forcing function” where the game causes shifts to happen in pick rates and team comps. The winning team is forced to play 18 diverse heroes. I would be willing to bet that if that mode was considered competitive, eventually a meta would settle in where 18 heroes were mostly picked and 7 would be rather neglected. Again, I don’t think this is horrible or the end of the world – I think it’s reality.

There are games with a set meta that evolve very slowly or remain stable for long periods of time and this doesn’t mean the game isn’t balanced or fun or fun to watch. Most of the pro sports fall into this category. TF2 was largely played Demo/Medic/Scout/Scout/Solider/Soldier and that was sort of just… accepted. It was fun to play and fun to watch. Baseball isn’t terrible or broken because every team puts their strongest batter 4th in the lineup.

But maybe I am off on what the expectation is from players here? I know the desire – and mine too – is that during every match of Overwatch all 25 heroes are viable at any time. The reality of gamers and video games is that any perceived (whether real or not) advantage is going to cause players to assume that they must play hero x over hero y. A professional Overwatch player will not player hero x if he/she thinks hero y is even 1% stronger. We can balance the heroes to equality but if there is the slightest perception of advantage, it won’t matter.

Looking at the perception of the meta, it’s obvious that “dive” is the predominant strategy. Correction. It is the predominant strategy being used in the professional scene. The majority of Overwatch players play Quick Play as their primary mode. The top 6 picked heroes (over the last month) in Quick Play are Genji, 76, Hanzo, McCree, Mercy and Junkrat. For the statistical majority of Overwatch players who are not pros and don’t play Competitive, this is your meta.

It drives players crazy when I post stats like that because they want to know about Competitive and not Quick Play. The point I am trying to make by posting Quick Play is that the numbers show that that is what the majority of players are *actually experiencing* which is different from *perceiving*. But looking at Competitive only… here are the top 6 picked heroes: Mercy (by a long shot), 76, D.Va, Lucio, Ana and Genji. Interestingly, number 7 is Reinhardt. Next tank after that is… Wi… no Roadhog. So in the past month in Comp, that’s what you’ve been actually playing.

But let’s talk about the elite players… maybe the top 3rd of all MMR. Their top picked hero over the past month was…. Ana. Yes, Ana.

I don’t mean to discount your fatigue with the “dive” meta but I also want us looking at from a realistic standpoint. Dive itself is an interesting comp. It’s fun to play and watch. It features super high skill heroes doing very OW things. Watching top Genji’s and Tracers is fantastic. I don’t think dive comp is bad but I think what players want is to see more comps in addition to dive comp. I too would love for this to happen. But in a non-forced, non-damaging way. I don’t think we should just throw a balance grenade at the heroes to change pick rates. And I don’t think long-term for the game it’s good to start imposing restrictions on you as to what hero you’re allowed or not allowed to play. I think we also need to be careful about demanding drastic change. A few months ago we nerfed D.Va and we faced the ire of many very upset players who thought we “ruined” the hero and she would never be played again. There was mega thread after mega thread demanding she be buffed. We held our ground because we believed she was fine. We did not touch her. And now she is one of the dominant heroes in the dive meta – clearly not in need of a buff.

Players think that every change we make to hero has the intent of buffing or nerfing that hero. Changes to heroes are usually made to make the game better. That’s what we were trying to do with Roadhog. Our goal wasn’t a nerf – our intent wasn’t a nerf. Our intent was to try to remove a behavior that had become “not ok” with our player base – the one-shot combo. Maybe he needs to be adjusted again? Probably. I am just using this as an example that not everything is super black and white. There is a gray area in making the game feel good. Sometimes we need to hold our ground and not make dramatic swings to the game.

I know this post will be met with a lot of disagreement. The desire for dive comp to go away will not be satisfied from some of you until Winston and D.Va are nerfed into the ground. But we’re not going to do that. We are going to make balance changes to heroes when they need it – and we do this more frequently than you give us credit for. 3 months from now there will be a new meta. If you’re the type of person who feels like the meta should shift every 2 weeks, then you’ll probably be sick of that meta and wishing it was back in the good ol’ dive comp days… I just caution against wanting change for the sake of change. The meta will shift soon enough.


Wonderful Jeff. Its great to know D.va wont be touched after she was nerfed despite that the forums are cyring for a nerfed DM. I think shes in a great spot for a tank
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At least Jeff doesn't think Hog is in a good spot now, even if they not change Hog that is enough to me.
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Love everything about your response Jeff. Exactly what I want to hear from our fearless leader. Thanks for that.
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I have played many many games over my lifetime. MMorpg, FPS, RTS, Moba and so on. Jeff Kaplan is as good as it gets imo. Fantastic to see his passion about the game. Not many would lay out a post like this to cover everything in its entirety.

Nice post Jeff!
I'm going to say Roadhog and Pharah are the two characters who need rebalancing at the moment

In roadhogs case he needs a new gimmick if you feel his combo was "Not Ok"
personally i never really had a problem with his old play style if he missed the hook he was as good as dead as his fire rate was terrible and his spread made killing most enemies pretty hard if they weren't hooked now even if he hits the hook he's got a 50/50 chance of dying as he can't do enough damage with his spread on smaller targets i believe that he should be somewhere in the middle

I suggest giving him a damage boost when he hooks a target one that almost negates what he lost but not quite and otherwise leave him as he is

Alternatively give him a Passive that negates or greatly weakens how much ult charge he gives his enemies for shooting him as well as allow him to heal himself for as long as he likes and let his cooldown recharge while he self heals

onto Pharah the issue with her is she is way too dominating and a very small amount of the cast can really contest her and if your team doesn't have atleast one person with decent aim she will dominate everyone she also generally has like 3x the amount of defense as anyone else due to damage fall off from weapons which she will proc no matter what and if she gets a mercy as well that becomes so much worse almost as if she has 500hp and 2 mercy's healing her at once it's just too much

I suggest Increasing Damage dealt to Pharah whenever her jets are activated either by a critical hit or by removing damage fall off against her and maybe better match making to make sure that each team has someone with decent aim especially if one of the players have allot of Pharah time other than that i honestly don't have an answer on how to fix her so she can play but not outright ruin a game singlehandedly

after that just see how everything plays out and continue making tweaks after
Hi pharahmercywatch on console.
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This actually makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to type this all out, Jeff.
i appreciate this message but i also super care about individual performance affecting SR so much more.
07/07/2017 01:26 PMPosted by Jeff Kaplan
But I think the game is balanced. Statistically, the things that are most unbalanced aren’t what you think they are. Symmetra and Torbjorn win rates are not balanced. They are too good. But this is why we don’t balance on statistics alone. I don’t sense a great community uproar over the fact that Torb and Symmetra are “overpowered” right now (at least, statistically).


you've made a mistake here. You're looking across all games. This is and cannot be the case across all skill levels. Where you need to look is where they are imbalanced in the AVERAGE case, which is where most players are. Look there, not in t500, not in bronze, in GOLD.

then, you may need to adjust heros to be less forgiving at the higher levels. You removed Zen's spread on RMB recently. Add it back in t500, maybe?

07/07/2017 01:26 PMPosted by Jeff Kaplan
The majority of Overwatch players play Quick Play as their primary mode.
Nobody is upset or complains about literally anything in quickplay.

Balance only truly matters to people in Competitive and you truly need to understand that. Just because more people PLAY quick play doesn't mean it's becuase it's more popular or more fun - it's because comp is too hard and the game is imbalanced. IF you look, you will see that many people played competitive for the first 2, 3 seasons and STOPPED - becuase it's no longer fun.

07/07/2017 01:26 PMPosted by Jeff Kaplan
Genji, 76, Hanzo, McCree, Mercy and Junkrat
The reason why this is is because people want to be good at them before they go into competitive. Hanzo is played in QP because he's not accepted in comp. Period.

07/07/2017 01:26 PMPosted by Jeff Kaplan
ext tank after that is… Wi… no Roadhog. So in the past month in Comp, that’s what you’ve been actually playing.
We know this: but AT WHAT LEVEL. Again, people in bronze, silver, low gold are still objectively LEARNING THE GAME and the meta is far less important. People in those ranks are far more likely to try something new because they have less to lose. (that being said I Think roadhog is still good, and your changes were good). Many people are "Trying the new hog" in comp as well, and you may see that shift soon.

There was mega thread after mega thread demanding she be buffed. We held our ground because we believed she was fine. We did not touch her. And now she is one of the dominant heroes in the dive meta – clearly not in need of a buff.

I thought the changes to d.va were fair and balanced, and the buff to her DM was exactly what she needed, however, since most of the defensive lineup and the heros who could deal with her deal scrap/shotgun/bullet/laser/cryo type damage that does little bits of damage over time directly reduced by her ARMOR, her survivabilityis too high.

Give her shields instead of armor as her bonus HP and you fix the problem and buff defense heros indirectly in the process. You would not be buffing OR nerfing D.va, you would be simply making a change to her health pool TYPE, making her more viable against burst and less viable against consistent sustained chip damage which is more in line with her kit/theme.

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