Overwatch game director responds to concerns over new levelling system

Blizzard rolled out a massive new update to Overwatch today, and as is the case with most massive new updates, there are controversies. One concern (albeit relatively mild) is with the game's new XP system. Basically, once a player reaches level 100 and is promoted – thus starting again from level 1 – the rate at which levels are cleared will no longer be as rapid as those levelling from 1 onwards as a new player.

In other words, players were hitting level 100 after a huge grind through levels, acquiring loot boxes at a sluggish pace, only to be showered with them as they progressed quickly from 1 through to 23. Now, once you've been promoted, each level will require 20,000 XP and will no longer reset. 

The way Blizzard explained this in the patch notes is simple: "While [the previous system] has worked pretty well so far, it’s also encouraged some people to stop playing the game after they’re promoted—hoping to save those first 23 levels for a seasonal event."

It's a reasonable thing to worry about from Blizzard's point of view, because not playing the game just because you want, say, 23 easy Christmas loot boxes, is probably not what they want you to do. That hasn't stopped people suspecting that Blizzard is trying to get people to buy more loot boxes, though. Game director Jeff Kaplan hit the Battle.net forums to further defend the move.

"Overall, the EXP change should be a benefit to the player base," he wrote. "Had this change been in effect for the Halloween Terror event we would have given out MORE loot boxes. More players would have gotten more stuff..."

He continued: "this change has nothing to do with a desire on our part to drive more or less interest in loot box sales. This change is to prevent players from binge behavior or halting play... and to prevent players who are not close to prestiging from feeling like they somehow missed out on 'bonus' items. This change exists to add levity to the levelling experience.

"We want you playing Overwatch or not playing Overwatch when you want/don't want to. That's the entire reason for this change... nothing else."

The change came as part of the new 1.5 patch, which introduced Sombra to the main servers. Read about the full patch over here.

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.