Overwatch was by far one of the most significant releases for the year 2016.
Like many Blizzard releases, it made waves within the gaming community. But, the formula that can be attributed to Overwatch’s success is by no means original. They simply built upon and created their own spin a genre that has been tried and true. Though, what many are speculating is if this will pull the trigger on the influx of “clones” as companies attempt to throw their hats in the ring, attempting to profit from the trend.
OVERWATCH WILL ALWAYS BE INEVITABLY COMPARED TO VALVE’S TEAM FORTRESS 2.
If you haven’t heard already of Team Fortress 2, it is one of Valve’s most successful IP’s. More specifically, it is a team-based first-person shooter that revolves around the dynamic gameplay of nine unique classes. These classes are represented by an array of zany characters with distinct personalities and are a main selling point to the game—similar to Overwatch. While Overwatch is definitely not a rip-off of Team Fortress 2, no one can totally deny that there is a likeness. Team Fortress 2 already had its share of look-alikes and clones in the past (e.g. Microvolts, Blitz Brigade), but none of them got it right.
You see, Overwatch did not attempt to “clone” anything; they simply drew from popular inspiration and created their own unique take. The result is a seemingly original title with a captivating world and charming characters. Overall, it gained its overwhelming popularity by effectively improving and revolutionizing something that’s already been done before. Nevertheless, Overwatch definitely did take a huge chunk from Team Fortress 2 to create its foundation. But, as Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
WILL WE GET A REPEAT OF THE MOBA TAKE-OVER?
Two of the most popular games being played now are League of Legends and DOTA 2, and guess what—they are both MOBA’s. If you don’t remember, the immensely growing popularity of primarily these two games saturated the market with an overgrowing abundance of multiplayer online battle arena games. Simply put, LoL and DOTA 2 started to dominate e-sports and the overall gaming community, reaching out to an extremely large audience; many wanted to cash out on the hype of the genre. With the notable release and growth of Overwatch, it’s safe to say that there is similar effect starting to place. And just like Overwatch, League of Legends and DOTA 2 revamped a previous style and formulated a massively appealing original title.
THE WAVE HAS ALREADY STARTED.
One of the most notable “clones” of Overwatch is Paladins. About 4 months after Overwatch’s release, Paladin comes out into Early Access and there’s absolutely no denying that it is somewhat of a rip-off. The abilities, the likeness of the characters, the objective-style gameplay—there is a lot that Paladins takes from Overwatch, but it’s not like they didn’t decide to mix it up either. As opposed to Overwatch, Paladin’s is based off a F2P (free to play) model, and boasts a collectible card mastery and character augmentation system.
A more extreme case is Legend of Titan, a Chinese mobile carbon-copy of Overwatch that replicates right down to the UI, and even the characters. There is controversy over how the suspected ambiguity of China’s copyright policy allowed such an exact reproduction to hit the markets. Like Paladins, it differs in that it’s mobile and free to play, but it is also riddled with micro transactions.
There are indeed other games that aren’t necessarily trying to create a clone, but are taking heavily influences from Overwatch’s aesthetics and or design. If you take a look at the website for Trion’s new turn-based arena strategy game, Atlas Reactor, you can see the remarkable resemblance to Overwatch’s signature style. In other new games like Battlerite, you can see similarity in the character cosmetics customization as wells as the ranking system. Furthermore, Lawbreakers is an upcoming gravity and physics based shooter suspected of deriving off Overwatch’s formula, but like many others, they are trying their hand at the something original while adapting it to this new trend.
Overwatch is not only beginning to spawn a couple of doppelgangers but also beginning to become a model for other games to draw design inspiration from. It is the new frontrunner in this genre of team-based, first-person, class orientated shooters, and currently, it remains unchallenged. And some games are looking to capture the Overwatch audience and give players a similar experience but in their own individual form. As the tide builds and more games try to alter or copy the gameplay formula Overwatch gave life to, we will be looking at the end of the MOBA trend and the ushering of a new age of a new genre. But in the end, let’s remember that Overwatch was the innovator, not the pioneer.