TL;DW - Stylosa Dismantles The State Of Overwatch With BRUTAL Honesty

TL;DW - Stylosa Dismantles The State Of Overwatch With BRUTAL Honesty
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


3rd Jun 2022 18:00

With over 4500 videos and 330 million views on YouTube, Stylosa has left his mark on Overwatch. Having been in and around the game since its very beginning, Stylosa is one of the most prolific, most-watched, and most outspoken personalities in Overwatch. Incredibly well-versed in the history of the game and having worked both in the esport with London Spitfire, as well as having created content around Overwatch at large, Stylosa has a unique viewpoint to share. 

We sat down with him during a difficult time for the game, just a couple of days after the six-year anniversary. Viewership numbers are at an all-time low for Overwatch, the beta is offline much to the dismay of its player base, and the wider gaming community is celebrating the game’s perceived all-time low.

We know sitting down for two hours is a hard sell, so we summarised the most important talking points for you. Watching it all (maybe while doing some chores?) is still advised!

Six Years In Overwatch

  • Initially, Stylosa was quite the Blizzard hater for dumbing great genres down and made a video about it in 2014. Someone at Blizzard messaged him, and he was invited to the Overwatch Alpha. When he got to play in 2015, he realised that this game had incredible mechanical and strategical depth. He still thinks it’s the best game he has ever played
  • Stylosa thinks the Blackwatch event was a turning point for Overwatch, after which a content decline happened
  • After Stylosa found out about Echo, he was told that they would be going full-steam ahead into Overwatch 2, and he initially thought that might mean that it was to come out that year
  • Stylosa’s sub growth has been stagnant for 2.5 years due to the content draught
  • Because he's committed seven years to the game, he wants to see it through till the end, no matter if Overwatch 2 explodes or dies
  • Overwatch was part of pop culture before Fortnite hit
  • There is no game that plays like Overwatch and that is its greatest strength and why Stylosa still has belief left in the title. It should be a tier 1 game

The Overwatch 2 PvP Tech Beta

  • He acknowledges that getting the game to 5v5 is a big task but is unfortunately not impressive
  • Stylosa feels he was playing a better game, but the changes didn’t blow him away. That said, some changes like significantly reducing the number of shields will appeal to a broader player base which isn’t already playing Overwatch 1
  • What we got does not warrant the Overwatch 2 label. What we got felt less than a year’s worth of development time. That said, there might be contractual obligations, for example to Lego, that required Overwatch 2 content to be released this year
  • Stylosa doesn’t think it was a developer decision to call what we have Overwatch 2 or to take the beta down
  • Orisa and Doomfist's reworks turned out to be more interesting for the audience because they had already seen Sojourn in 2019
  • Blizzard didn’t want content creators to use Alpha footage of the UI. Stylosa speculates that this could indicate that the development team had pressure to have something to show turned up on them while they weren’t satisfied with the product yet
  • Copying Riot’s strategy with VALORANT access being granted through Twitch viewing only made sense because it had a lot of content. For Overwatch 2 PvP Tech Beta it turned into "drop bait" because there was not enough to keep the audience’s attention
  • We should’ve at least had the competitive ruleset in the beta instead of just quick play

Content creation and Overwatch

  • While the viewership peak during the beta drop was nice, Overwatch viewership is currently at its lowest ever, with a drop-off of 70-80% in viewership across the board
  • Stylosa explains that while he initially gained viewership and subscribers due to the beta drop, he feels he has lost all of that momentum again because viewers had consumed all the content within a week
  • Stylosa thinks that because Overwatch was lacking content and the scene had a negative connotation about it, creators turned to wild speculation around Jeff Kaplan’s reasons for leaving and his part in having the content draught because this was what the audience had an appetite for
  • Overwatch 2 killed any interest for Overwatch 1 content and also killed it from a search engine optimisation viewpoint as it drops into algorithmic irrelevance too
  • Stylosa feels bad for up-and-coming content creators because of the state of the game, and he feels like he should recommend to them to go to another game and take their talents there

Overwatch 2

  • Blizzard shouldn’t make a game for those that have stayed but those who have left. Those hardcore enough to still be here will play the new content anyway
  • Stylosa thinks that Blizzard still has a communication issue. While they have turned up the quantity, they aren’t directly addressing the interests of the community like alleviating concerns for the long term strategy of the game
  • He thinks the next beta wave will be a good indicator of how much backlogged content there is

"They are packaging the PvP element which is Overwatch as Overwatch 2, which is a fundamental misleading of players."

"What we are looking at [with the beta] is a recommitment to the development of new content for PvP. I think we had an Overwatch development team that was not designed to do that. [...] I think we are starting to see the signs of a development team that could be capable of doing that."

  • Stylosa thinks the game would be in a better place if it had trickled new developments in instead of trying to work towards a huge release like Overwatch 2 though he acknowledges that large moves like 5v5 and the new engine make this a hard strategy to execute
  • Despite Overwatch having a tonne of content but being a living breathing entity is more important. Players want to be part of a product that they feel moves forward

Overwatch League

  • The OWL viewership for APAC games was the lowest Stylosa had ever seen it. Stylosa thinks it’s because Overwatch League is playing a game no one has access to
  • The pipeline from Overwatch Ranked to Overwatch League is nearly non-existent, stifling audience growth. The conversion rate of player to viewer remains very low
  • Overwatch League has a lack of natural rivalries facilitated by the respective chosen locations of the franchises
  • Geolocation was likely a good sell for investors but will likely not be looked at kindly in esports history and will likely be deemed a mistake
  • Stylosa thinks Overwatch League has just too many games a season, and it’s hard to get hyped
  • Overwatch has never been a good spectator experience hence why focusing on growing the player base and recruiting from that audience is the best play in Stylosa’s opinion
  • Taking control away from 3rd party tournament organisers stifled organic growth
  • Explaining the game in season 1 was extremely challenging
  • Stylosa likes to see the World Cup come back but is sceptical if even Blizzcon is coming back. It brought forth a ton of endemic talent like Badpachimari, Tani, Tridd, Krook and more. He thinks Blizzard are lacking the bandwidth to organise such an event again though

Microsoft and Blizzard

  • Stylosa finds that previous acquisitions suggest that Microsoft has generally been fairly hands-off with the studios they acquired
  • Starcraft might benefit from the takeover
  • The game pass model might change game development incentives for Blizzard significantly

Go check out Stylosa's YouTube channel, Twitter, and TikTok.

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