Overwatch: Why We Need A 2-Person Play Of The Game

This guy.

Overwatch’s [official site] Play Of The Game feature is one I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about since I started playing way back in closed beta. Blizzard has done a lot of work refining the systems involved and trying to find an automated way to pick “cool” moments from across a range of playstyles but the results are still hit and miss (literally in the case of some utterly tedious Widowmaker POTGs I’ve sat through).

But more and more, I’m thinking that one of the best ways forward would be to have two-player Play Of The Games.

I have no idea how much work this would be in relation to the existing systems so feasibility is not something I can accurately factor in but here’s the idea and reasoning:

At the moment, when a match has finished, one person gets a highlight moment as Play Of The Game which everyone else has to watch. There are a number of categories the game is taught to evaluate when it picks this – high score, whether a person saved a teammate from a situation likely to lead to their death, a difficult kill, or the prevention of something impactful, like an ultimate ability being interrupted or something.

It’s an imperfect system, though and often seems to just result in these lacklustre clips where you watch someone kill three people in a boring manner. It’s also a lot harder to reward support play in this manner although I get that Blizzard are trying with several of their categories.

What I’m thinking is that instead of focusing on how to reward one single player, it would be better to highlight the contributions of others around one moment. The most obvious example I have to hand is a moment from the night of the game’s official launch. I landed a textbook Zarya ultimate where her gravity ball drew in nearly all of the enemy team and my partner then deployed Pharah’s ultimate (a rain of rockets) to get a quintuple kill.

Here’s the Zarya side of things:

And there’s the Play Of The Game:

It was a sweet moment in the game, but watching the Play Of The Game at the end was a really bittersweet experience. It was Pharah’s accolade and watching it onscreen felt like it really minimised my contribution. I’m not one for getting salty in games – I’ll go quiet rather than risk getting angry or being rude to people – but that moment pissed me off far more than it should have done.

It’s because it felt like the Play Of The Game actively soured the experience of that match. If we hadn’t had to sit and watch it and the star moment be entirely on Pharah I think I would have walked away from that match chuffed, but I felt deflated. My own contribution was relegated to the personal highlights section which you can’t foist on ANYONE without recording them and uploading them to YouTube and then tweeting about them incessantly before working it into a post on RPS. Or something. Not that I would know.

Imagine an alternate scenario where the end of the match had awarded Play Of The Game to Pharah and Zarya, showing the setup from my POV and the finishing off from hers. I feel like, personal saltiness aside, that sort of thing would really ram home awesome teamwork moments rather than having to decide that one person was the hero and the other person was just a bystander.

Perhaps this is influenced by the fact I tend to play support or tank and at this point I feel resigned to seeing Play Of The Games alternating between the friend of mine who loves Genji and Widowmaker and the friend who excels at Hanzo and Pharah. But I do think that including those setups AS WELL AS the pay-offs in Play Of The Game would send a clear message about the value Overwatch places on teamwork, and of the contribution of some of the less killstreak-y characters.

Who knows, it might even persuade someone off their beloved sniper and onto a tank or a support…

If you want some help with how the heroes play, check out our Overwatch character guide.


  1. Ging says:

    They do such a good job in-game of rewarding supports, just by saying “eliminated” rather than “assisted”. Showing a view different view points for play of the game would pretty much be the icing on the cake.

    I have yet to see a play of the game from a mercy for instance, with a clutch team revive in overtime or something (rather than the sad PotG with her standing behind a bastion feeding him damage juice) – so just in general, the PotG algorithm needs some more tweaking (which I know Blizz have stated they are constantly working on).

    • Tanksenior says:

      Odd, I’ve seen many many Mercy PotGs, perhaps too many for someone simply hitting their ult button.

      • Assirra says:

        Well it gets dubbed “Q of the game” by a lot of people for a reason.
        Mercy however requires some timing and getting into the fight.
        Compare it to Hanzo that can litterly shoot through the wall and the dragons pop up and kill the enemy team and Mercy suddenly feels a lot more worthy.

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      gritz says:

      The worst is when the PoTG is a big multikill like a Junkrat or D.Va ulti that ends with Mercy bringing everyone right back into the game as thought it never happened.

      • khaoselement says:

        I freaking hate PotG so far…I play Mercy mainly, because I’m always a healer in everything ever. Junkrat got four people with one Ult, and I mean, okay, good shot bro. I’ll give it to you? But PotG? I was literally at the end of the clip rezzing the entire team. We then went on to stomp the ever-loving poo out of the team. How did he get PotG?

    • Chewbacca says:

      Especially as Mercy has some of the coolest introductions for PotG! ;)

  2. Xocrates says:

    Play of the Game sounds a lot better in theory than in practice. Not only because it needs the algorithm to actually detect important plays, but for them to be reasonably interesting to watch. Made worse by the fact that it reduces an often team wide play into a specific player achievement (as the article demonstrates).

    Ultimately I think the best way to “fix” it would be to not attribute it to a particular player, instead opting to show the best game wide play for one team using a spectator camera as opposed to a player camera that often is only useful for the death notification pop-ups.

    • Churba says:

      I’d also say that certain types of performance need to be looked at in how they’re weighted. For example, no torby POTG unless he’s within X radius of his turret, and alive. Weight bastion turret mode kills lower, and require more of the other factors than sheer kill speed.

      Seriously, POTGs right now seem to be dominated by 1st)Bastion turret mode drilling a chokepoint, 2nd)Torby having a quiet, reflective wank in a corner while his turret goes to work, in a distant 3rd)D.VA dunks that are basically watching her mech zoom into the distance, while Dva herself hides around the corner, out of sight of the action.

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        gritz says:

        In 40 hours of play over the last week, I’ve seen maybe two or three Bastion PoTG’s.

        Junkrat, D.Va, Reaper and McCree ulti’s are almost always the picks.

        • gunny1993 says:

          It’s mostly because Bastion is a terribly designed character; he’s super easy to dominate with if you’re against scrubs, but his lack of mobility makes him totally useless against a competent team.

          • Xocrates says:

            Blizzard has a lot of resources and lot of good – and even great – talent, but good designers they ain’t. To the point I suspect half the reason their games are as good as they are is because they are one of the very few companies to be able to iterate until the games approach something fun, even if they’re not sure why.

            Overwatch is not the worst offender on that regard, but Bastion seems to me like a problem created to solve a different problem. It seems designed to be a tank buster (particularly, as a counter to Reinhardt), but as a consequence the DPS is so high it can kill pretty much anything faster than most players can react to – which means he also needs some very crippling weaknesses to make up for it.

            So now they have a character that’s alternatively useless or oppressively strong.

          • obowersa says:

            Tracer and bastions little glowing weak spot on his back is always great fun. The bastion weak spot always seems so underutilised by mobility heroes.

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            gritz says:

            Bastion is fine, and fits into the overall design just like everyone else. He counters some classes (Rein) and has his own hard counters (Widow) and doesn’t seem to tip the balance any more or less than any other character in the game.

            So much hyperbole that bears no resemblance to actual play.

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      phuzz says:

      It might be because if they used a spectator camera, then they’d have to create a system to make sure that camera was pointing the right way, not moving too fast, was covering all the action etc.
      With the player’s PoV, they can make the assumption that the player was probably pointing in the right direction to give a good clip.
      Or it could be something more complicated.

      • Xocrates says:

        It would be trickier than the current system, certainly, but it’s very much not an unsolvable problem.

        It is however a shift in design and focus of that particular feature, which might be a bigger issue than the implementation.

  3. FeedFilter says:

    Sitting through one play of the game is annoying lengthy as it is, two would just get dumb.

    But yeah, totally feel what you’re saying. Just came from a match where the PoG was a massive TWO KILLS, while the healer that had really pushed us over the line was awarded with fuck all (always vote up your healers folks). It definitely seems to be weighted in some weird directions and support (and often tank) players are left out entirely.

    • aircool says:

      I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t get PotG, anything significant in which you were involved is saved in your replays.

    • Boothie says:

      for situations like this were the POTG was really a result of two players action you could simply show pharahs POTG but add Zaryas highlight intro with Pharahs at the start making the sequence like 3 seconds longer

  4. int says:

    The best ones are of a dead Torbjörn getting sentry kills off-screen.

    • ran93r says:

      Thought I was going to get a couple of those myself over the weekend but thankfully turned out to be regular play as Toblerone. I have on a number of occasions pressed my win button whilst running back from the spawn room and let Turrety McTurretface have his time to shine.

    • Assirra says:

      Nah, the best ones are the bugged ones.
      Had play of the game and the only thing we were looking at was a Reaper walking.
      Had to be some pro walk to get Play of the game :P

    • Koozer says:

      I don’t mind these, or the Bastion ones, I see them as a lesson for people to watch out for turrets.

      • ZeDestructor says:

        Or switch to playing Genji, Tracer, Junkrat, Pharah or any number of other heroes that can deal with Bastion very effectively.

        And even as a Bastion player, you need a good team to not only keep you safe to spew bullets, but also herd the enemy team into your line of fire.

  5. aircool says:

    I don’t mind them too much, even though it’s usually the same two or three characters (McCree, Bow and Arrow guy and probably Rocket Lady).

    For one, it’s an extra 10-15 seconds to nip for a piss.

    For Blizzard, it’s an incentive to buy loot boxes if for some reason you just can’t get that PotG intro you really want.

    I haven’t worked out what the voting thing at the end of the match is for, although I generally give my vote to support players, or tanks if there are no support players, even if they’re on the other team. Anything to encourage other players to fulfil those vital roles.

    I did once get the PotG with Healing Lady for rezzing some players and then shooting someone.

    Overall, I think the whole PotG thing is a bad idea. It looks cool and is kinda fun, but just encourages ‘that guy’ to just hunt for kills.

    • Syt says:

      “Always tip your healer!” :)

      But yeah, PotG is hard to measure, because there’s often things that are hard to rate automatically. If a player manages to draw three opponent team members away (and dies) so that the rest of the team can go for the final push that can decide a game, but it’s not something that would show up in stats.

    • Tanksenior says:

      Don’t really get this attitude, everyone fulfills a ‘vital’ role being a tank, healer or, dps, each one is pretty much required to make a team work. I play support/tanks a lot but I don’t believe you deserve extra credit for that.

      “Upvoting” someone who simply did well in their role is completely fine in my opinion.

      • Syt says:

        Clearly you’ve never been in a losing match with 3 Genjis on your side who keep complaining that there’s no healer or tank on the team. :P

        • aircool says:

          That’s pretty much it. People who are willing to play support if there is none, or a tank if there is none (or an extra one may be needed) are generally better all round team players, and regardless of skill are often decisive in a game.

          As a person who enjoys support and to a slightly lesser extent tank, you are already deserve credit for being a team player.

          You start a game, perhaps I want to be Soldier 76. With 10 seconds to go, no-one has chosen a vital support or tank, yet there’s an army of snipers, ninjas and bowmen telling the group that they need a healer or a tank or whatever.

          Yet it gets better. You’re playing defensive, yet no-one will pick a sniper lady. Oh irony.

          • Koozer says:

            I like playing the Do We Need a Tank or Healer More game after everyone else picks Bastion, Hanzo, Tracer and 2 Widowmakers.

  6. Bull0 says:

    The little cards showing individual players’ particular achievements that show and you can rate at the end of the match resonate a lot more with me than POTG. It would be cool if they expanded on that a little bit, so instead of showing one POTG video for one player they showed a bunch of little clips of each player who got an accolade doing their thang.

    • Kemuel says:

      I think the one which flashes up to show someone getting x number of gold medals is always rather sweet. Like “Hey, everyone look at how much they’re improving! Big cheer!”

      • lagiacrux says:

        gold medals do not come from “improving” your personal best on a hero.

        gold medals are awarded who did best within your team at one of the six categories.

        • Kemuel says:

          Ohh that’s interesting. Whenever I’ve seen them they’ve always corresponded with my beating personal records, so I just assumed it had something to do with that.

          • Bull0 says:

            I’ve found those medals a fairly useful barometer for how my team is doing. Healing and have the gold for eliminations? Something ain’t right

          • sysop39 says:

            “Healing and have the gold for eliminations? Something ain’t right”

            Unless of course you’re playing Soldier:76.

          • Kruton says:

            I often get the gold metal for healing as Mei…which just doesn’t feel right even if it’s true.

    • Sam says:

      Speaking of those little cards. I wish they’d add one (or even just add to general statistics) for how much extra damage was done thanks to Mercy’s booster beam. Partly for showing off, but also to get a better idea of how much help it actually is.

      • Bull0 says:

        Yeah I totally agree. There’s so much potential with that little feature, it’s easy to get excited about. Adding little video vignettes for them too would make it seriously good.

  7. Kemuel says:

    As a fellow Zarya player I feel your pain. What I’d love to see is a Mario Kart 8 style highlight reel. Maybe shorten the clips but flash up three or four with cool cuts and things. How awesome would it be to get big assist plays shown split-screen or picture-in-picture or something?

  8. Jaykera says:

    As it is, the game would be a little bit better if the “Play of the game” was simply removed.

    • Sarracenae says:

      They would not remove it as a whole tier of loot is based on POTG intro animations. What i’d like to see is more player feedback on POTG, allow us to vote on it like we do with the cards so the system can learn a bit better as to what players think is or isn’t worth POTG.

      I actually think though it’s pretty impressive they even get close sometimes to actually picking the real POTG as it must be really hard for the AI to do it.

      • Oranje says:

        I really can’t understand why people are so upset about this feature. It’s an extra 10 seconds after a match that sometimes shows a very cool moment, one which you maybe were involved with or somehow missed. And when it’s not a cool moment, it’s a chance for everyone to laugh at either the poor algorithm or everyone’s poor play during a match.

        I feel like PotG is actually a very strong bonding instrument which brings both teams together at the end to appreciate some quality play, regardless of the outcome. It helps remind us that we’re playing a game to have fun, as (ideally) exemplified by the PotG. As a tool for focusing the fun of a match, and not the outcome, I think it’s brilliant.

        It’s unfortunate when you’re not directly featured, but to complain that your PotG was ‘stolen’ by someone flashier seems petty. Any player will realize, for example, that Pharah’s massive quintuple kill in the article was all thanks to Zarya’s set-up. Putting aside a potential argument that Pharah’s contribution was more significant, I think Zarya’s play was well-featured in the PotG anyways, and most players will recognize that. Further complicating the feature in order to ‘properly highlight’ all contributions dilutes the value of PotG and misses the point in my opinion.

  9. Sarracenae says:

    Since launch i’ve actually seen one real “play of the game”, we were on attack and the point was down to about 15 seconds. We’d struggled to get round a corner due to a bastion and a turret. It had really been one of those bashing head against a brick wall moments for the team.

    I had switched to Junk to try and counter the turrets/bastion, and finally my Ulti popped with the 15 seconds to go. I managed to send the tyre up a wall along a platform and dropped down right on top of the bastion, turret, healer, clearing them out. Allowing us onto the point, and we went on to win.

    One guy on the team said after the POTG that, that single play basically won us the game, and he was probably right, and it made this noob feel good :)

    Mostly at my trash tier POTG is always a turret, a bastion. But people have’nt figured out the counters yet at my level. I’m wondering if POTG improves as the quality of the players involved goes up?

  10. Stevostin says:

    I just quit on survarium because of the barrett affair and I have a lof of people around leaning toward this but really the art style, the music, the character design… I would have found it way to childish when in my twenties. Which are far away now. Add pew pew guns that takes an awful lot of screen estate, little FOV, awful UI, severe pay wall… there is simply no way for me to try this.

  11. szendroib says:

    Here is a different problem: for a game that is built on changing your heroes the end game voting is really working against it in practice. Why would one change from an offence character with gold-silver medals to a healer for example? He would have no chance to appear at the end of the game upvote. And let’s be honest we all love to be upvoted :).

    • Xocrates says:

      Heck, for a game that is built on changing heroes, why would you lock the hero most impactful skill behind the requirement to stick with that hero for most of the match?

    • QSpec says:

      I’d argue that the game is absolutely punishing to those who change heroes.

      Unless you are stuck with a hero who is being fully countered, the loss of Ult meter can be pretty damaging. And of course the irony is that when you Ult, you usually do something awesome and get more Ult meter… keeping you stuck as the character you initially picked.

      • Koozer says:

        It’s pretty clear they didn’t want people to charge their ult using one character, then switch to another purely for the ult, but resetting the meter to 0% is just too brutal. I’d be happy if switching character retained up to, say, 70% of the meter.

  12. Wormerine says:

    My fav POTG is Torbjorn running from his spawnpoint for couple seconds.

    The multi play of the game is interesting. If there was additional category “cooperation” and game would showcase how the team cooperated in a cool way (combining ultis is the simples idea) would be good.

    It doesn’t seem to be such as issue to me – the one time I did get POTG it was my Junkrat ulti which DID win the game. I do find the cards to be a brilliant way to say thank you, but I wish there would be something with it (ep bonus, or even better rare/legendary item)

  13. Scrote says:

    I love Zarya.


  14. QSpec says:

    I’m at the point where they should remove any Ultimates from PotG. They were cool back in September. Hell, they were cool up through February… but now it is all the same shit. Someone in one of my games snarkily referred to it as “Ult of the Game”… and that is sadly not too far from the truth.

    My particular favorites are the Hanzo ults in which you literally don’t see anyone die, but he gets a triple kill while running away.

    The actual hypest PotG are the ones where Junkrat gets a few kills with borderline perfect grenades or a Widow gets 3 crucial kills on the support line with perfect headshots and positioning. I’m unimpressed with Junkrat or Hanzo or Genjis ult based PotG.

  15. TehK says:

    Yeah, POTG is kind of flawed at the moment. In about 120 games I’ve played so far, I’ve not seen any (ANY) support getting a POTG. Not a single one. And of course there are pretty boring ones. I really like the idea of giving this to more than one player – that would be great.

    That said… letting a piece of software decide what actually was a crucial event in such a game, is pretty difficult. According to PCGamer, Blizzard’s Rowan Hamilton admitted as much and said they’d continue to work on it.

    At the moment, though, I’d actually just like a way to skip it. I find having unskippable stuff to be annoying in general.

  16. Banks says:

    And the problem is not only that all the POTGs are just individual multikills, but also that all of those are just ultimate abilities that require zero skill to pull off and that you’ve seen a thousand times.

    They should’ve called it “Best press of the Q”.

  17. stringerdell says:

    I wouldnt worry too much, anyone watching the potg that knows the abilities of the characters can see that they were trapped in a zarya ult rather than having a group huddle.

  18. aircool says:

    Whilst we’re at it, if anyone has any way to get feedback to the devs (y’know, like being an important game journalist), can you tell the to sort out the colourblind modes? The’re fucking abysmal, and not only change the icon colours to an even smaller spectrum of colours, but they affect everything; menus, graphics, the works.

    All I want is to be able to change the red of the other team to some sort of green without changing the blue of my own team.

    I can tell red from blue very easily, but I can’t see red against a background of colours; it’s like giving the enemy a white outline on a white map.

  19. Reapy says:

    I’ve never seen so much crying over a 10 second replay than the overwatch potg.

    Who cares? It measures burst damage, shut downs, and environment kills in timeslice buckets and shows you the biggest count at the end of the game. Woopy.

    It can factor in some more stuff like length till game ends, I guess… but a game doesn’t always come down to one moment in time.

    I also don’t know what else people expect besides pushing q? You have to aim them correctly and at the right time or they won’t be effective. I’ve pressed Q so many times to have it do absolutely nothing.

    But yeah I don’t understand, potg isn’t a big deal, who cares? I’d rather watch a bursting multikill instead of a healing beam randomly moving a bar up (and I like playing healers/support).

  20. Koozer says:

    There’s nothing like winning a payload game in overtime with a well-timed D.Va assault and ult with a team who can’t understand the concept of walking around Reinhardt by being shown a Play of the Game of your Widowmaker missing half her shots.

  21. kalirion says:

    Thanks a lot, RPS, you’ve made me lose The Game :(

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    Phasma Felis says:

    Of course, algorithmically determining the most appealing play is really hard. What’s interesting is that the specific case Pip describes here would be much easier. If all the victims of the Play of the Game were under the effects of (say) Zarya’s or Mei’s ultimate, then Zarya or Mei shares the credit. You might even bias PotG in favor of two-person plays like that.

    Similarly, if the PotG is a multikill that is immediately countered by Mercy, give if to Mercy instead.

  23. Bweahns says:

    Maybe I’m just a miserable embittered dota player, but I don’t give a flying fuck about the end of game nonsense.

  24. Fropp says:

    My favourite PotG so far is when I destroyed Junkrat’s tyre with a long range rocket – admittedly it saved our medic and tank from certain death, but can’t help thinking it was a bit anti-climatic

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    Gnarl says:

    Unskippable Play of the Game was the moment in the beta weekend I realised this was not that good. If you have to be this hard handed with the ‘this is a team game’ message, and then botch that message, you’ve taken a wrong turn.

    Forcing people to watch it, and then having it be boring as hell and, to top it off, for it to encourage the kill streak rather than team play attitude? It shows a real lack of subtlety, and then a willingness to stick with a poor implementation rather than remove it.

    With the caveat that I may be a complete moron and it is easily skippable and I missed that option entirely.