There was a time, not so long ago, when new Overwatch heroes set the internet on fire. Anticipation for the first new hero reached an all out fever pitch as players tracked clues in and out of the game, trying to figure out who this mysterious new hero might be.
Eventually, Ana became the first hero to be added to Overwatch. But the mystery didn't end there. Even in Ana's reveal, there were more hidden clues about a character named Sombra. Even more sleuthing was required in what became known as the Sombra ARG, or alternate reality game.
All this secrecy and investigation led to Ana and Sombra's releases being by far the most exciting Overwatch ever experienced. In fact, no release has even come close since.
After Sombra's release, something went wrong. While new Overwatch heroes are still exciting, they now risk becoming more and more like new pieces of simple content, rather than characters in a larger story.
Indeed, the following heroes largely failed to make a serious impact. Sombra was followed by Orisa, a character whose place in the lore remains largely inconsequential. After her came Doomfist.
Doomfist seemed the perfect opportunity for major excitement in the community. After all, there was a not insignificant amount of information available about supposedly the most powerful villain in Overwatch history. But even Doomfist fell short of achieving Sombra's hype levels.
Moira, of course, fared even worse than Doomfist. Announced out of nowhere at BlizzCon and plopping into the game after a truncated testing period, hers may have been the most underwhelming release in Overwatch history, saved only by her being a healer.
Blizzard has lost its way when it comes to releasing new heroes, and it's not because of waning player interest. Overwatch is bigger than its ever been. No, this is a failure of strategy. But the solution is clear.
While not all of the response to the ARG was positive, it got players engaged in a way that nothing else before or since has.
Cover photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment