Overwatch

No, Blizzard isn't banning one-tricks. But why do some players want them to start?

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I want to clear up some confusion about the one-tricking Torbjörn that, overnight, become a pariah for an imaginary witch-hunt Blizzard supposedly started against players who specialize in only one character.


1. Blizzard is not banning one-trick players. The player in question was banned because they were purposefully throwing a match and refusing to play. While this player's one-trick tendency may have been the ignition that set off his teammates, the ban was NOT issued because of his hero selection.

▲ The quote that started the rumor: "this is a cooperative game, which sometimes means that you might have to do some concessions for the team."


2.
The above statement from GM Arcaxenosi clearly states that the reports were not because he was playing a particular character. So off the bat, we know Blizzard doesn't care which character you use. The problem with this GM's response is that they explained the ban by referring to the one-trick player's refusal to work as a team, citing the primary issue being a refusal to switch characters. This explanation is what caused a lot of the initial confusion because it failed to acknowledge that the one-trick player was acting extremely toxic and going AFK / purposefully throwing the match.


3. If there is any lingering confusion as to why this player was banned, look no further than an actual video of what happened. Blizzard isn't banning one-tricks, but they are rightfully banning temper tantrums that throw competitive games.

Now that we cleared that up, let's muddle it all up again.

Further confusion was spread once Community Manager Josh Engen took to the Overwatch forums in an attempt to explain the situation. Unfortunately, his words make it sound like the Torbjörn players hero selection DID have something to do with the ban:

"I just wanted to chime in and make sure that everyone knows that we’re currently digging into the reports, investigating this ban, and thinking about how this type of situation affects specialized players and their teammates. 

We take both sides of the issue very seriously. We believe that players should be able to choose their favorite heroes, but playing as a team (which includes building an effective team composition) is a core part of the Overwatch experience. It’s a delicate balance, and we’re still working on getting it right (and probably always will be). 

If you’ve been playing Blizzard games for a while, you’ve probably heard us use the phrase “Play nice; play fair.” It’s like a mantra around the Blizzard campus, and it’s a big part of the way that we approach situations like this. People tend to focus on the “playing fair” part, but they forget about “playing nice.” Sometimes that means switching off at your teammates' request, and sometimes that means working around your teammate’s specialization. 

Either way, Overwatch is more fun when everyone is playing nice. "


It's a little mind-boggling to read this statement because it sounds like Blizzard somehow expects the Overwatch player base to police themselves by "playing nice." Only, in this context, it sounds like "playing nice" means playing the meta and not your favorite hero. When you are speaking on behalf of the Overwatch team, you simply can't start a sentence with "we believe that players should be able to choose their favorite heroes" and then follow it up with an awkward "but" statement.


That conditional should never come from an official Blizzard source. Players should always be able to choose their favorite heroes and, if they are for some reason unable to without setting a match into chaos and frustration, that is Blizzard's fault and a product of poor game design. Overwatch is the smash success it is because of the amazing heroes that have inspired an entire generation of gamers and it's Blizzards responsibility if half of these heroes are unplayable. 

▲ Blizzard PR done right. 


Simply put, it's not players fault their favorite hero is bad, situational, and rarely ever a good pick. The solution to this problem isn't expecting this player to "be flexible" or "play nice" by picking another hero. The solution is for Blizzard to balance their game to make all heroes viable or properly incentivize hero swapping.


Lucas "Mendokusaii" Håkansson of the Houston Outlaws thinks one-tricks ruin the game for everyone else and a lot of players feel the same way.



But a large part of the community isn't blaming Blizzards game balance, they are blaming individual players.


It's hard to pinpoint exactly why this is happening, but a vocal part of Overwatch's vocal community doesn't think Blizzard is to blame for the tension between players who enjoy winning at any cost and those who want to win using their favorite hero. Instead, they view anyone who doesn't like to swap characters mid-match or specializes in unpopular characters as the primary cause of Overwatch's biggest problem.


Instead of lamenting over Blizzard's design decisions that keep certain heroes niche, they blame the players that enjoy playing these weak heroes. Instead of questioning a game that's balance crumbles when one player commits the sin of playing the wrong hero at the wrong time, they rage at how moronic it is to queue into a competitive mode when not prepared to be flexible for the team. They are more likely

▲ Blizzard isn't here to enforce the communities optimal standards of play.


Frankly, anyone proposing a system that punishes one-trick players is wasting their time. It is never going to happen and punishing player expression is the opposite of how Blizzard perceives Overwatch and their approach to game design as a whole. Whether it's World of Warcraft, Starcraft or Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard has smartly stayed out of the business of telling their audience how to play their games for decades.


From my personal experiences writing strategy guides for Blizzard entertainment, I can tell you doing anything that even remotely sounds like telling players what aren't allowed to do is a big no-no. The idea of banning someone for playing their own way is so un-Blizzard that it is safe to say it will never, ever happen.


So what is the solution to the communities one-trick rage?

I may have hinted at this earlier, but the responsibility of dealing with the "one trick" problem lies with Blizzard, not the players who choose to specialize in one hero. As long as players are given the choice to pick their heroes, there will always be disagreements as to which heroes should be picked and which heroes shouldn't.


Blizzard can do any number of things that might make it easier for players with alternative strategies to be able to play together in peace:

● Ideal game balance could be achieved that makes every hero powerful enough to be competitively sound picks.

● Perhaps the introduction to a "captains mode" where the highest ranked player on each team is able to pick selection their teammates heroes from three pre-selected hero choices chosen by teammates.

● Blizzard could create incentives towards swapping heroes or playing a type of hero your team "needs"

● The development team could start designing maps that are less about creating power spikes for niche heroes only some of the time.

● The balance team could start shifting Overwatch into less of a game about team composition and more of a game about individual player skill.

▲ That Symmetra one-trick you dread running into paid for Overwatch just like you did.


Who knows what the development team might think of or if they plan on doing anything at all. Maybe the Overwatch design team has always known about the growing resentment for players who don't play the meta and are working on a solution right now. The important thing is for the community to understand it is Blizzard's problem to solve through game balance and design decisions, not player policing.


Torbjörn, Hanzo, and Symmetra one-tricks are doing nothing wrong when they choose to play their favorite hero in competitive mode and no one should ever be forced to play a hero they don't want to play. If you really despise this aspect of Overwatch, take it up with the development team.

We are all here to play

Maybe you got lucky and your favorite hero is Genji, Soldier: 76, or any number of heroes that the Overwatch player base unanimously agree are competitive picks. Maybe you don't like playing Lucio, but you do it anyway because you are a team player. Maybe for you, the biggest thrill is winning so you don't care what hero you have to play in order to achieve the W.


At the end of the day, the way you play is an extension of your self, because that is the point of all of this. Overwatch is a game we all play to satisfy this desire to escape the grind for a while and enjoy the levity that group gaming can bring. Sure, some players are more competitive than others, but all of us were brought into Overwatch because of the amazing characters and fun gameplay first and foremost.

▲ New heroes like Moira become less exciting when there is a chance players will be flamed the moment they try and play her competitively.


Personally, I think the fastest way to turn Overwatch into a grindy, unfun experience is to normalize attacking other players and encouraging a culture that pressures player to pick meta heroes above all else. If you really, REALLY can't stand the idea of players sticking to one character and one character only, I suggest you make a thread on the Battle.net forums and let your voice be heard. 


Only, don't ask the development team to punish one-trick players. The most likely changes will come in a form that incentivizes flex players or rewards those who think of the team first when selecting their hero.

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