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…
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