The case for an Overwatch single player campaign

10
Nov
2014

The case for an Overwatch single player campaign

Now unless you have been sleeping under a rock this past weekend you would have heard by now that Blizzard announced their first new IP in over 17 years, Overwatch. Overwatch is a team based FPS/MOBA hybrid game set sometime in the future. here you face off in various 6 vs 6 PvP matches on a variety of game maps. Currently only 2 game modes are know are Payload, where you escort a payload vehicle to it's destination, and Point Capture, where you capture control points.

Now I could go off and explain everything that is known about the game thus far but to be frank other people have already done that on various other websites and most of them have actually played the game. I'll link to a few of those here at the end of this post. What I want to talk about instead is the possibilities of this franchise as a single player game (which it isn't right now) and my reasoning as to why Blizzard could make it happen.

Why is single player shouldn't be ignored

Look I understand the importance of multiplayer games these days. I mean let's face it, they are extremely popular for those who play them and even more profitable for those who make them. League of Legends alone makes Riot Games over $600 million a year. Hearthstone has over 20 million players. Games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the Battlefield Series, and Starcraft have a huge online following that includes professional tournaments with sponsorship's and TV ratings that are through the roof. 

But despite all of that there is still a large market for highly polished single player game experiences. Games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Bioshock Infinite, and Skryim raked in hundreds in millions in retail sales and were hugely popular in their own right. In fact I personally believe that in many cases it is better for a game studio to not include any multiplayer in their game releases if it just isn't going to work very well. Having multiplayer just to say that you have the option isn't good enough anymore.

 

Different Game modes can be difficult at times

Now typically when it comes to game mode options gamers normally have only 3 options to choose from. You get Single Player only games with the occasional co-op, Single-player with a full multiplayer mode included, and your multiplayer only games. 

Over the years we've seen single player games add on incredible multiplayer experiences within their lifespan (Half Life and Team Fortress Classic) but I don't think we've ever seen a single player game be added onto a multiplayer game.

It isn't for a lack of trying though. People have been asking for a single-player version of League of Legends for years. DOTA has a bot mode where you can play against bots but it is exactly the same as the multiplayer game. Starsiege Tribes once had a single-player campaign in the works called Tribes Extreme but that was abandoned. Unreal Tournament 2004 had a so called single player "Campaign" that you could access through in game currency through multiplayer match wins but it amounted to nothing more than you in a bot match. 

The closest example of a reverse trend of a multiplayer game becoming a single player game would be back when Quake 3 Arena went back to it's single-player roots in Quake 4 with a full campaign mode (although it was a pretty bad campaign, almost like it was an afterthought). Of course that was a sequel to Quake 3, not Quake 3 itself, a completely different game.

So we've never really seen a multiplayer game turn into a single player game within it's own lifecycle (or at least I can't think of any off the top of my head). What makes you think Blizzard could do it?

Blizzard already has....it's called Hearstone: Curse of Naxxramas.

Wait what, Hearthstone?

When Hearstone first came out one of the criticism's of the game was the lack of single player content in the game. You could play against the AI for a few matches to practice your deck but that was about it. This was accepted by most of the community (not all) because the game was designed from the start to be a multiplayer game. 

Then Blizzard released the Curse of Naxxramas content patch. This was a fully designed single player campaign where you the player faced off against the bosses of Naxxramas. The game added a bunch of cards that you could use against other players but the biggest part of it was the campaign. This was the first time that I can remember that a multiplayer only game added a truly compelling single-player mode for purchase within it's lifecycle.

And you know what? It worked. I now a lot of people who spent RL money purchasing this campaign. Others either used their stockpile of in game gold or a combination of both cash and gold to get all 5 wings. 

So why not offer the same thing in Overwatch?

 

How it could happen (I hope)

The way I see this happening is similar to Hearthstone. Blizzard releases the game as multiplayer only and people begin playing the heck out of the game. After about 3-4 months Blizzard decides they want to introduce some new characters to the game and want to think of a really creative way to showcase them off. Enter the single-player campaign!

Blizzard decides to build a single player campaign around one or 2 of their current characters as a way to introduce new characters tot he general public. They could purchase this campaign as a in game purchase with either game currency or RL money. You would get a 10-15 hour campaign along with access to all the new characters. 

Imagine a campaign where you play as Hanzo as you learn about his origins where you encounter his old nemesis form the past. His nemesis could be a new hero class added to the game.

Maybe they could make a different campaign centered around Tracer where we see how she was before she got her time jump gear. We would meet the scientist who made her test pilot gear or maybe a mad scientist who wants to dissect her for research.

Hell just make a campaign about Watson. I think everyone wants to know where he came from.

But the whole point here is to say that it is indeed possible for Blizzard to pull this off. It is possible for Blizzard to take this beautifully crafted world and create a compelling and fun single-player game out of it. IF they were to charge $20-$25 for a 12-15 hour campaign with 3-4 additional Heros included in the price it would be hugely profitable. I know just from reading the forums and commentary on Overwatch that there are a lot of people who won't play this game unless it offered a single-player campaign. That is money sitting on the table for Blizzard to snatch if they offered the option to people.

Now I am not saying that this WILL happen. This is mostly me speaking out of my ass here and speculating. But I am looking at what Blizzard had done before in Hearthstone with their single-player campaign and I look over at Overwatch and think.

Why the heck not?

For a more detailed summary of what Overwatch is and how it plays please take a look at a few of these links:

The More I Played Overwatch, The More I Liked It - Kotaku

‚ÄčOverwatch hands-on: Why Blizzard's FPS isn't just TF2 II - PC Gamer

Overwatch hands-on gameplay impressions - Joystiq