Overwatch Will Have Custom Games, Dedicated Servers And A Spectator Mode, But No Private Servers

Overwatch Will Have Custom Games, Dedicated Servers And A Spectator Mode, But No Private Servers

There are certain expectations and demands upheld for first-person shooters that don’t necessarily apply to real-time strategy and MMOs. Blizzard are learning those the hard way with Overwatch, their first venture into the genre.

But during a trip to the Blizzard offices, game director Jeff Kaplan confirmed that while Blizzard are still staying true to their online-only formula, they will be upholding some standards fans come to expect of their competitive shooters.

In an interview with Jeff Kaplan and Geoff Goodman, Overwatch’s principal game designer, the pair confirmed that while Overwatch would remain entirely within the Battle.net ecosystem — no LAN play, in other words — PC fans would not have to endure the misery of player-hosted lobbies, as was the case in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, although players would not be able to hire their own private servers (like you can with Team Fortress 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive).

“Overwatch will run completely on Blizzard servers. With that said, and when we do matchmaking it will be in a Blizzard pool, we are looking at regions and IPs and doing the best to minimise any sort of ping issues,” Kaplan explained.

He added that “we definitely are going to have a custom game option”, directly referencing competitive players’ desire to run around and practice timings, angles and maps more broadly.

“We’ll allow you to set up some of those things that traditional dedicated servers allow you to do. Basically give you a safe place to go play a match to play with your friends and not go into the big matchmaking pool, we’ll have a setup that will allow for that as well.”

Kaplan added that a spectator mode is being built for the game and a rudimentary version of that will be visible when Overwatch’s beta launches. “In fact, you can see the seeds of it when you go back and play — there’s the kill-cam and if you press escape or space you can get out of the killcam and that will put you in a spectating mode,” he said.

“The way you guys were playing the game was in what we call Show Mode, which is setup for Gamescom or Blizzcon, where you don’t have a friends list, you don’t have all the show features. But in the beta if someone has someone on their friends list and they just want to watch their friend play, they can go in and spectate if the spectate slot is open for them.”

The author travelled to the Blizzard offices in Irvine, California, as a guest of Blizzard.


  • It seems like they wanna compete against tf2 with this game but they shoot themselves in the foot with decisions like this.

    • I think they’re taking the same approach they did with Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone. It’s something for people who are interested in the genre but not already invested. They don’t want TF2 players. They want people who aren’t playing TF2 because the game is too “developed”.

  • I look forward to the inevitable lack of Aus servers at launch and being matchmade with 200ms+ ping!

    • There are already local Australian servers for WOW, Diablo and Heroes of the Storm; they’ll roll them out for Overwatch as well, although that may not be the case for the beta yet (they’re still working out where all the data centres were, I was told).

      • Diablo 3 only got AU servers March last year, 2 years after launch.
        WoW got them even later than that, last October.
        Even though HotS launched with AU servers, players still got matchmade into US ones anyway.

        I don’t doubt they have the physical rackspace here, but I remain sceptical they’ll be running Overwatch at launch, more so that we won’t get matchmade to the US regardless.

        • My guess, and this is pure speculation: there will be servers at launch but not initially in the beta (as was the case for Heroes of the Storm, and similar to SC2 where a SEA server was available but the beta was restricted to the US cluster).

  • The real problem with this control-freak bullshit is that they’ve now given the game a hard expiry date. One day, they’ll have to shut off the servers, and on that day, no-one can ever play again.

    Why the hell is this the new norm? What objection do all modern developers have to letting people create private servers that allow heavy customization, mod support, custom map lists, and all the other bits and pieces that BREATH LIFE into a multiplayer game?

  • Absolutely nothing wrong with this.

    You can run your own server for free with your mates, just hosted by blizzard. It will also go a long way in making it harder to hack unnoticed, which blizzard are very good at.

    I’m happy not to pay 10 bucks a month to host some shifty server just to play with mates.

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