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Is 'Overwatch' Dying?

The bright and energetic game may be reaching an end in popularity and in player enjoyment.

Soldier:76 Gameplay Image on Hollywood Defense

With the recent changes to Overwatch (looking at you, Hanzo buff and Symmetra rework), many who have invested their time in the game would agree that it hasn't felt the same for the past few seasons. This feeling, coupled with the toxicity of the Overwatch community, could be killing Overwatch.

Overwatch's community started declining with the release of the Mercy 2.0 changes back last Fall. While a few welcomed these changes, a sizeable part of the community outraged and considered Mercy worthless to the game. A scroll through the Blizzard forums attests to the community reaction. This Mercy change, along with the Junkrat buff released around the same time, frustrated many players and caused some of Overwatch's fanbase to turn to new games rising into the spotlight like Fortnite.

Another reason why the past few seasons haven't felt as great as the earlier seasons could be also because of the player toxicity. As someone with around 800 hours on Overwatch, I feel that there has been a change in the game’s community. But I wanted to see if others felt the same way—so in true gamer spirit, I took to the skies of Twitch for a bit of research.

The first streamer I asked about the toxicity to is a Top 500 Lucio main that goes by "TalyzOW" on Twitch. He commented, "the toxicity in Overwatch is insanely high" and his chat wholeheartedly agreed with this statement. However, he feels Overwatch has maintained its toxicity over time.

I also spoke with Twitch streamer Tim, also known as "CardbeardBox." He's played flex role in Overwatch since Season 3. He’s previously voiced his preference for Overwatch as a game and had a lot to say about Overwatch's toxicity. He feels that Overwatch just has a few numbers of toxic players that ruin it for everyone and create a "toxic-fest." It's much like the old saying "one bad apple ruins the bunch." Tim also feels that people get toxicity because they play a certain role, perhaps one that's unnecessary. Hanzo main jeers, anyone? Jokes aside, Tim hopes Blizzard's new role select function will help with this. When asked if Overwatch has become more toxic over time, Tim says, like "TalyzOW," that "toxicity has pretty much been the same across time, maybe is slightly worse."

Tim says he likes to combat the toxicity by keeping a positive attitude in games, and if he jokes around and has fun with the game, rarely they stay toxic. He also tries to keep up the positivity in his stream and it results in the cooling of many tempers across the board. This positive attitude could be Overwatch's salvation, as the barrage of smurfs and trolls frighten many new players.

However, some in Tim's chat disagreed with his statement about the toxicity over time. One user in chat explained, "[some players] see the pros play a certain way and exclude gameplay hero options that might benefit the team more in a lower skill setting." Tim said he understood this point of view and that it could be true to an extent. In this case, it may not be toxicity over time, but instead toxicity within competitive ranks. Understandably so, as players compare themselves to and aspire to play like "the pros."

There are many opinions out there on the state of Overwatch as a game as it progresses into its third year. To some, it's too off-balance. To others, it's balanced. To some, it's too toxic. To others, the toxicity is manageable. Despite these differing opinions, there is one thing for sure: it's still anyone's game. 

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