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Negli ultimi giorni, tra i giocatori di Overwatch, c’è stato un discreto fermento sul possibile prossimo arrivo del “ban degli eroi“, la possibilità di mettere un veto alle scelte degli avversari. Il Game Director Jeff Kaplan ha prontamente chiarito che non è il caso, ma comunque ci sono altre novità in arrivo.

La speculazione è stata fatta inizialmente partire dallo streamer Jeff “Emongg” Anderson, che a inizio settimana ha dichiarato in maniera allusiva “Credo che le cose miglioreranno con Overwatch. Io non so come però”.

La cosa però ha cominciato a prendere trazione dopo che un account Twitter noto per rilasciare leak (sia veri che falsi) ha apertamente nominato il termine hero bans.

Secondo questa fonte, il ban degli eroi arriverà in “poche settimane”.

La speculazione quindi ha raggiunto livelli massimi, ma proprio ieri il Game Director Jeff Kaplan ha risposto sul forum ufficiale chiarendo la posizione degli sviluppatori in merito: gli sviluppatori di Overwatch non sono favorevoli al ban degli eroi. Nel suo lungo bluepost, che abbiamo riportato integralmente qui sotto, Kaplan argomenta come una soluzione che può andare bene per altri giochi non è detto che vada bene per Overwatch.

Secondo Kaplan, i problemi che i giocatori hanno con il meta potrebbero essere risolti con bilanciamenti più frequenti (NdR: proprio stanotte è arrivato un nuovo PTR), senza dover introdurre nuove funzioni. In conclusione, viene annunciato un nuovo video per la prossima settimana. Quale sarà l’argomento secondo voi?

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about hero bans the past few days and I just wanted to offer some perspective on the topic. As always, the OW has a wide variety of opinions about the concept. Interestingly, we don’t have many people on the team vehemently arguing for the feature. More of us, including myself, are reluctant to add hero bans to Overwatch. As I’ve said before, we’re not of the mindset that we’re opposed to the idea entirely and will never add them. But overall, there are a number of issues that make us want to proceed carefully.

Coming at this from a game design focus, the number one thing we ask is, “what is the problem that we’re trying to solve?” We’re not fans of just adding ideas that are in other games “just because”. We call this bottom-up design. Sometimes the right design decision for one game, is a terrible decision for another game – even if the two games are very similar. For example, with World of Warcraft we did not impose forced grouping, a slow leveling curve and a punishing death penalty with level loss “just because” the other successful MMO’s had those features at the time. And as a player of those other MMO’s, I thought they were the correct decision for those games. But not for WoW.

When I hear why people want hero bans, the conversation usually revolves around a few reasons (I’m sure there are more):

  • People do not like that the meta stagnates. They believe with hero bans, they will be able to “ban out” the meta heroes thus moving the meta. In general, the meta not moving is perceived by the player-base as bad
  • People are frustrated with the balance of certain heroes. With hero bans, they feel like they can “ban out” the heroes they are frustrated with
  • People do not like playing against certain heroes. With hero bans, they feel like they can “ban out” a hero they don’t want to play against

As a team, we agree with and understand that players want the meta to be more fluid and move more frequently. Even though the vast majority of players only experience the meta through OWL, feedback from GM’s, streamers and YouTubers, we get that the perception of a stale meta is not good for the game. We absolutely have plans to help move the meta more and we’ll be talking about these in an upcoming developer update. We get it. We agree. Make the meta move faster. Ok.

But just implementing hero bans does not mean the meta will move. Studying other games, the end result is usually a “ban meta”. The downside of a ban meta, is that players are often at odds with each other when someone on their team bans an “off-ban-meta” hero. The same frustrations that players experience with the meta exist in a ban meta. Hero bans are not a silver bullet solution to making the meta move. If the problem we are trying to solve is that the meta needs to change more, hero bans might actually make the problem worse, not better. We do a have a solution in mind – an actual system – that we’ll talk about (next week’s dev update) but it is not hero bans.

In regards to players wanting to ban for balance reasons, the way we plan to address this is with more frequent balance updates. The upcoming dev update will go in depth into the plan and shed light on how we’re going to accomplish this. So we agree that there are balance issues. We agree balancing needs to happen more frequently. We disagree that hero bans are a good solution to balance problems. To us, removing a hero from play because of balance reasons feels like a sledgehammer.

The other reason I listed was that people do not like playing against certain heroes. To this, I am going to give an answer that is not going to be very popular. Basically, it’s a PvP game. You don’t get to pick what the enemy team does. The challenge is overcoming the enemy team with teamwork, ingenuity and skill. It feels really off to me that the other team dictates how or what I play. So if your reason is that you don’t want to play against certain heroes, I think we’ll agree to disagree on this point. We’ve changed out minds in the past. But that’s where we’re at for now.

I hear a lot of people attack hero bans because they only want to play one hero, or “one trick”… To this, I think our stance is pretty clear. Overwatch is a game about mastering many heroes. We don’t expect you to master them all, but you should play a few of the characters. Now, we don’t explicitly prevent you from only playing one hero. But we also don’t encourage it. We think the game is more fun for everyone involved if you play at least a handful of the heroes. That’s how the game is designed. So defending “one tricking” does not factor in for us when it comes to our opinion on hero bans. We want the meta to move more and one tricking contributes to meta issues. Again, we’re not against one-tricking but we’re not going to overly enable or encourage it. That’s our stance.

There are a few other reasons, we’re reluctant to pursue hero bans at this time as well. We’ve been really pushing for faster match times (there’s a lot going on under the hood on this one). Our philosophy is the game is better if you have quicker matches. The sting of defeat is much less if the match took less time. We’re constantly talking about ways to speed up rounds of OW to allow you to play more. Introducing a “ban phase” to the start of every OW round would add significant time. Your overall time spent on an average night of OW actually shooting stuff would be less. This concerns us a lot. There is also a huge development cost to adding the feature as well (the time commitment would be significant). This last reason is not the one that’s driving our decision making. If we thought it was right for the game (like with Role Queue) we would absolutely make the investment.

I’m looking forward to sharing next week’s development update with you all… I think it will clarify things a bit. But in the meantime, I wanted to tell you where we’re at with hero bans specifically since so much misinformation is being spread right now. I hope those of you in favor of the system don’t go too “doomsday” over this news without having the full picture. Information will be available next week on the plan to balance faster and keep the meta moving. We agree on the problems. That’s the important thing.

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