Fresh off the announcement of Overwatch 2, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan says that, while the two will initially exist as completely separate products, that won’t always be the case.
Speaking to Kotaku, Kaplan shares that the team has plans to merge the clients for the two games in the future, a step that would keep the entire Overwatch and Overwatch 2 player base contained to one unified version.
“There will be a point where the clients merge. We think this is important, especially as a competitive experience,” Kaplan tells Kotaku. “The whole idea is to avoid fragmenting the player base and giving anybody a competitive advantage. If we’re playing in the same competitive pool, you’d better not have a better framerate just because you’re on a different version of the engine.”
Overwatch 2 exists as a way for Blizzard to introduce more cooperative modes and narrative into the Overwatch franchise, all while building on the player-versus-player foundation laid by the original. As part of that, both the original Overwatch and its sequel are set to share maps, even before the two merge into one client.
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack elaborated on the reasoning for doing so in a recent investor call, noting that “the thought behind this is we've worked hard to build a strong community and we want to move forward as one.”
He explains that new player-versus-environment modes aim to bring new players into the franchise, all while fulfilling longstanding player requests for more narrative content it the previously-PvP focused game. Even that PvE content, however, maintains Overwatch’s focus on replayability.
“One of the things that you alluded to and I think is worth really kind of articulating is this idea that the team has around redefining a sequel,” Brack offered in response to a question on Overwatch 2’s monetization. “And really what does that mean?”
“And so, if you think about for PvP, we've communicated that all the players of Overwatch will play on the same maps as players of Overwatch 2. In other words, there'll be one map pool,” he continues. “Then we've also announced that all players will have access to the same set of heroes. And the principle for this is that no one is left behind and that we really are not splitting up the community.”