Those looking for Blizzard Entertainment to implement hero bans in Overwatch soon, don’t hold your breath. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan recently went to the game’s official forums to talk about Overwatch hero bans, and why it’s not a good idea.
Kaplan notes that they are not opposed to the idea of hero bans entirely, but there are a number of reasons why they’re not implementing it ASAP even if it has worked for other games.
Coming at this from a game design focus, the number one thing we ask is, “what is the problem that we’re trying to solve?” We’re not fans of just adding ideas that are in other games “just because”. We call this bottom-up design. Sometimes the right design decision for one game, is a terrible decision for another game – even if the two games are very similar. For example, with World of Warcraft we did not impose forced grouping, a slow leveling curve and a punishing death penalty with level loss “just because” the other successful MMO’s had those features at the time. And as a player of those other MMO’s, I thought they were the correct decision for those games. But not for WoW.
According to Kaplan, whenever Overwatch hero bans are discussed, it usually revolves around a few key reasons:
People do not like that the meta stagnates. They believe with hero bans, they will be able to “ban out” the meta heroes thus moving the meta. In general, the meta not moving is perceived by the player-base as bad
People are frustrated with the balance of certain heroes. With hero bans, they feel like they can “ban out” the heroes they are frustrated with
People do not like playing against certain heroes. With hero bans, they feel like they can “ban out” a hero they don’t want to play against
He further stresses that implementing hero bans won’t mean that the meta will move, but rather, the end result is usually a “ban meta.”
Another reason why Kaplan doesn’t think this is a good idea is the simple fact that some people want bans just because they don’t want playing against certain heroes.
The other reason I listed was that people do not like playing against certain heroes. To this, I am going to give an answer that is not going to be very popular. Basically, it’s a PvP game. You don’t get to pick what the enemy team does. The challenge is overcoming the enemy team with teamwork, ingenuity and skill. It feels really off to me that the other team dictates how or what I play. So if your reason is that you don’t want to play against certain heroes, I think we’ll agree to disagree on this point. We’ve changed out minds in the past. But that’s where we’re at for now.
I hear a lot of people attack hero bans because they only want to play one hero, or “one trick”… To this, I think our stance is pretty clear. Overwatch is a game about mastering many heroes. We don’t expect you to master them all, but you should play a few of the characters. Now, we don’t explicitly prevent you from only playing one hero. But we also don’t encourage it. We think the game is more fun for everyone involved if you play at least a handful of the heroes. That’s how the game is designed. So defending “one tricking” does not factor in for us when it comes to our opinion on hero bans. We want the meta to move more and one tricking contributes to meta issues. Again, we’re not against one-tricking but we’re not going to overly enable or encourage it. That’s our stance.
Kaplan notes that the studio is looking for the game patches and hero re-work to even things out that they won’t need to resort to bans.
You can read Kaplan’s entire forum post here.
Don’t forget that Overwatch is celebrating the Lunar New Year with an in-game event!