“The Overwatch Team (internally at Blizzard we are called 'Team 4') is comprised of about 100 developers at this point. The disciplines who comprise the team are Audio, Art, Engineering, Production, and Design,” Kaplan wrote. “We also have two full-time Business Operations people and an esports director who are part of the team.”
The team was actually quite a bit smaller during development, when it fluctuated between roughly 40 and 75 members. But when Overwatch went live the audio team, which had previously been a “shared, central resource” was brought onto the game full time, as was the automation group, which Kaplan credited for the game's smooth launch.
But that's not all! There are also the “embedded” QA and Community teams, and the Blizzard animation team responsible for the animated shorts, which is actually part of the larger Story and Franchise Development group that creates things like the Overwatch comics and gameplay videogames. The licensing group comes up with all the swag available in the Blizzard store, and even the legal team gets credit for ensuring that things like the Hollywood sign in the Overwatch map of the same name is fair and legal to use.
Then there's the anti-hack/anti-cheat group, an esports group, an IT/Networking/Live Ops group that keeps the servers up, a PR team that deals with people like me, a “BRILLIANT” (all-caps his) business analysis team, the customer support team, the human resources team... It's a long list that goes all the way up to Blizzard's top executives. Kaplan manages to give just about everyone at Blizzard some slice of credit for making Overwatch happen.
“But at it's core, it's about 100 gals and guys trying to make cool stuff that makes you guys happy,” he concluded.
It's a long way around to get back to where he started, but there you have it: 100 people on Overwatch, give or take. Which makes for some interesting comparisons: The entire Fallout 4 development team wasn't much more than 100 people, and Valve is rumored to be just a few hundred developers split between Steam, VR, Dota 2, and other projects. Tripwire Interactive is making Killing Floor 2 with roughly 50 people (although that number is a couple of years old), and according to LinkedIn, the entirety of Croteam (opens in new tab), which is currently working on both The Talos Principle 2 and Serious Sam 4, is less than 50 people. Even the massive, sweeping single-player RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt had “only” about 240 in-house staffers working on it, although like Blizzard, there was a large number of external people working on it as well.
So it's a big team, especially for a game that's been out for more than three months, but not surprisingly so. Kaplan has spoken numerous times about Blizzard's long-term commitment to Overwatch, which has been a major success by virtually every measure, including as a nascent esports title, which adds an entirely different layer of demand for ongoing tuning. And it's not as though Blizzard doesn't have the resources to throw at it, right?
Kaplan also took some time to explain how changes in Overwatch go from “being mentioned to being implemented,” which is interesting in its own right—and, believe it or not, shorter.