Overwatch 2 Devs Open Up About Challenges of Delays, Morale at Actvision Blizzard

Photo courtesy of Actvision Blizzard

With the Overwatch 2 closed PVP Beta finally starting on April 26, fans will get their first taste of the game nearly two and a half years after it was announced at BlizzCon 2019. Since then, fans waited through silence on progress, and delays to the original release schedule. Activision Blizzard hasn't had the best last two years either. News of workplace sexual harassment, union-busting, and misleading investors have made national news and resulted internally in the departures of many employees at all levels within the studio.

In an interview with USA Today, Overwatch 2 developers Geoff Goodman (lead hero designer) and Brandon Brennan (senior hero designer) opened up on the challenges the game has been through during its development, as well as the broader issues at Blizzard.

Goodman discussed the original development plan for the Overwatch series saying the sentiment on the team was, "Maybe we have to chill out on Overwatch but that will let us come out with Overwatch 2 faster – ripping the band-aid off kind of deal."

Goodman admitted that the plan turned out easier said than done.

"But then suddenly that time, which we were hoping was a small amount, becomes a large amount of time. Now we’re so invested in this plan, everything’s so connected with all the heroes we’re making and the hero reworks – it’s like we can’t even break out of this and try to take a piece of the game and throw it on live."

He further went on to speak honestly regarding the team's frustration in the aftermath of delays, citing production costs as the main reason developing the game took so long. Fortunately for Overwatch fans, the development team seems to have refocused on making Overwatch 2 the best experience possible.

"I think the whole team was kind of upset and annoyed a bit with the timing of how everything got delayed. There were a lot of reasons for it, it wasn’t just one thing. [But] we kinda rallied around this release date, getting PvP out there, getting back to form, getting content in people’s hands. As much as the players love to have that content, and they definitely clearly do, we love making it for people."

Of course, the previous year's scandals at Blizzard loom large over any discussion of the workplace at the studio, and Goodman and Brennan both did address it regarding the impact it had on their team.

Brennan spoke more to the personal pain of seeing someone he looked up to, Jeff Kaplan, leave the studio. "The morale hit is real. People leaving is never gonna feel good...[Jeff] was a big reason why I pursued a career at Blizzard. To see him leave – it hurts."

Goodman addressed the company-wide impacts that the scandals recently have had on Activision Blizzard. "We were just really affected by it. Straight up, a lot of people left. I totally get it, I totally understand where they’re coming from. Morale, y’know, it takes a big hit."

Despite the drama of the past few years, both developers expressed confidence in the new leadership, and in their team's response to the adversity. Only time will tell if the changes at the studio have paid off, and if Overwatch 2 can match or exceed the success of its predecessor.