How Overwatch Beat Battleborn

A look at why Battleborn lost out to the much more popular Overwatch.

For the past year, Overwatch has dominated the team-based hero-shooter genre, spawning its own eSports league and innumerable memes, as well as receiving a few Game of the Year Awards. Overwatch's wild popularity also overwhelmed a hero shooter that was released just a few short weeks before it -- Battleborn.  

Despite being fairly similar in concept, Battleborn is barely remembered by the masses, while Overwatch continues to pull in new players. So the big question is this: How did Overwatch so definitively beat Battleborn

Overwatch Branding vs. Battleborn Branding 

This is undoubtedly the biggest factor in the story of Overwatch's success. Blizzard is a huge company and just its name is a big draw for a lot of players. With games like World of Warcraft and Diablo under its belt, Blizzard has a reputation for making great games. Of course, 2K Games has published its fair share of fantastic games as well -- but when competing with Blizzard's much larger promotional budget, the company just couldn't keep up. 

When it came to marketing for Overwatch, Blizzard went big. Rather than relying on CG trailers and social media, they revealed massive amounts of the game through gameplay trailers on a regular basis. These videos let players see that the game was incredibly polished from the earliest stages of its reveal. 

While 2K Games wasn't able to keep up with the overwhelming promotional content from Blizzard, they did utilize some of their own interesting marketing tactics. Alongside the standard gameplay videos and an open beta access, the IAmBattleborn contest was a video competition where players created their own taunt with the winning taunt making it into the final game. \

Unfortunately, even this wasn't enough to compete with Overwatch, which had already been gathering hype for a few months


Overwatch Gameplay vs. Battleborn Gameplay 

No matter how you look at it, branding and marketing can't be the only reasons Overwatch won out over Battleborn. A large majority of players will often decide on a game based on one major factor: enjoyment. Both games revolve around heroes and their unique skills, but Overwatch seems to have done it better.  

While Battleborn has more heroes, the heroes and some of their accompanying perks are locked behind hours of gameplay. This model of unlocking perks made multiplayer a difficult slog, as new players would get destroyed by older players whose only advantage was that they had played for a longer time. All in all, Battleborn's gameplay is solid, but it is hardly accessible to casual players. 

Overwatch, however, opts to let players be whoever they want from the start, making the game a lot more appealing to new players. And without a system of perks, gameplay is based more on player skill than time logged into the game.  

Overwatch Multiplayer vs. Battleborn Multiplayer

Overwatch is still pretty popular and is consistently played by a ton of people. The focus on multiplayer only game modes makes it easy for players to find a match, even a full year after release. Unfortunately, Battleborn isn't as well-off: its player base has considerably dwindled, with some of its less active times bringing in 100 players or fewer. A year after its release, Battleborn is almost forgotten by all but the most devoted fans of the game.  


At this point, Overwatch has solidified its place in gaming history with Battleborn falling to the wayside. Only a drastic move could bring Battleborn back into the spotlight, but with recent rumors of a free-to-play model having been squashed, there isn't much hope.


Published Aug. 2nd 2017

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