Last weekend Blizzard Entertainment ran an open beta for upcoming online hero shooter Overwatch. Today they announced that over 9.7 million players joined the fight over PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It was hailed as Blizzard’s biggest open beta ever. The Overwatch beta ran from May 5 and was extended an additional day to May 10.
Blizzard boasts that over 37 million matches and 81 million hours were played. “We’re thrilled that such an incredible number of players got a chance to check out Overwatch,” said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. “The response was overwhelming, and we hope that everyone had a blast.”
Overwatch represents Blizzard’s first new intellectual property since 1998’s Starcraft. It launches in the midst of a burgeoning new sub-genre of hero shooters like Battleborn and Paragon. These games are defined by their diverse roster of unique heroes, inspired from the top-down competitive MOBA genre. Overwatch includes 21 heroes to choose from, though its gameplay is pure traditional team-based shooter. It plays almost exactly like beloved Steam shooter Team Fortress 2. Six on Six matches involve control points and escorting payloads across a map.
I had an absolute blast playing Overwatch during the beta. The beta ran smoothly with zero connection issues or hiccups. Each hero is intuitive enough to quickly pick up, and switching heroes mid-fight is encouraged and often a necessary strategy. The gameplay is incredibly fast and pleasantly streamlined – a concept Blizzard also applied when adapting their own MOBA and card game, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone respectively.
Overwatch will be released on May 24 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.