Have you ever wondered about the Overwatch PTR—what it is, why it's there, and how important it is to Blizzard's plans for the future? If so (and even if not), the latest developer update video, covering everything from what PTR stands for—Public Test Region, or Realm if you prefer—to Blizzard's plans for heroes like Sombra and D.Va, will tell you everything you need to know.
The first point game director Jeff Kaplan makes in the video is that while player feedback is a very important part of the process, the primary purpose of the PTR is to ensure that Overwatch is as stable and bug-free as possible. "We will put up versions of the game frequently on the PTR, sometimes they'll have a lot of of issues, and it allows us to solve them very quickly," he explains. "So while checking in on how players feel about new changes in the upcoming patch is also very important to us, it's not the primary thing we're looking at."
That's also why the PTR is restricted to the PC, even though Overwatch is multiplatform: Updates on the Xbox and PlayStation must pass through certification processes, but Blizzard can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, on Battle.net. "We incur any risks to our system, because we're making the changes. We know what we're doing, it's our game," Kaplan explains. "If we screw something up, we know we're going to fix it right away."
Kaplan said Blizzard is still giving thought to offering "incentives" to attract players to the PTR, like loot boxes or transferable experience, although that's not likely to happen anytime soon. He also touched on some of the hero changes it has planned: Sombra, despite being an offensive character, will remain a "back line disruptor" rather than a "vicious assassin," and Roadhog's hook will continue to be worked on. Both D.Va and Ana sound like they're up for minor nerfs, too: D.Va's combination of mobility, toughness, and ability to lay down fire without needing to reload has Blizzard feeling "like she's doing too much right now," Kaplan says, while Ana "needs to be balanced back a little bit."