The recent Overwatch Developer Update on social features was a welcome one. Endorsements sound like a fantastic way to celebrate positive teammates, and looking for group should allow players to find a group best suited for them. Indeed, everything seems to be coming up Milhouse for the positive Overwatch player.
It’s confirmed that more social features are on the way, and we at Heroes Never Die are extremely helpful. In fact, here are some more social features that could truly help transform Overwatch into a benevolent utopia.
Combining communities: “Communities” are an upcoming World of Warcraft feature, similar to the existing guild system, that are a cross-server way to play. You can join multiple guilds as well. Why not set that feature across Blizzard games?
Right now, it seems like the best way to build a group of friends who you can consistently chat with and play with is through Discord. If I could pop into game and have a pool of people I knew and trusted, that would make my day easier. Looking For Group would remain as a fantastic way to meet new people and accomplish goals without an existing community.
Yes, it would be a little weird that you’d have some people in World of Warcraft and some people in Hearthstone, and you’d need a way to be able to hide community chatter while in-game, but the potential could be fantastic for Overwatch’s social experience for regular players.
New Endorsements: Right now, there are lots of ways to play in Overwatch, and matches can be nuanced. Right now, ‘sportsmanship’, ‘good teammate’ and ‘shotcaller’ are the ways we’ll be able to endorse. I’d like to be eventually see more endorsements — especially for us Deathmatch players, who don’t have teammates but still want to celebrate a fun match and get rewards. And speaking of rewards...
Make the rewards worth it: We don’t know what the rewards for good behavior will be yet, but if I work extremely hard to be kind, thoughtful, lead games, and congratulate enemies, I’d like the reward to be worth it. That might sound a little rude — isn’t good conduct it’s own reward? — but I find that being actively social and trying to pull up the mood of a losing team is draining.
If all people get in return for putting that work in is a loot box with three voice lines and a spray, I’m not sure that the positive reinforcement will be as effective as it could be. Now, imagine if you get an exclusive skin? I think Overwatch’s most impolite populations would reform overnight.
Make reputation clear: If I just got put in a game with five perfect angels, I want to know! I think that would make my day a lot brighter and I’d be more communicative and cooperative right off the bat. Let players take pride in their good behavior and show it off around their profile icon; it’ll make them feel good for earning it and put their teammates at ease.
Most importantly... Blizzard will have to make sure that they keep the game fun and remove frustrations. It doesn’t matter how positive players are if they ultimately feel like the game is putting them in bad match ups where they get stomped. Someone with the best intentions to stay positive will get frustrated if they feel like they lose twice as much ranking for every win they manage to scrape out.
The carrot that Blizzard is setting up is a fantastic way to augment the punishments for negative players, but ultimately, both systems are ancillary to the main experience. As the game enters its second year, the developers will have to ensure it remains fun and keeps the original spirit, even as new heroes join the cast and new metas evolve.