Overwatch is getting a server browser

There's big news out of the world of Overwatch today, as game director Jeff Kaplan revealed in the latest developer update that a server browser is on the way. The server browser will list all the custom games running in each region, with "all sorts of sorting and filtering options to help you find exactly what kind of game you're looking for," and also gives players the ability to run their own unique public or private game servers. 

The addition of a server browser about nine months after Overwatch's release goes against the trend of modern multiplayer games, which have embraced automated matchmaking to pair players by skill, ping, or proximity. "The majority of our players like to play the game through Quick Play and Competitive. And then a lot of our players engage with the Arcade as well, and the different modes that are running in the Arcade," Kaplan says in the video. "But there are a lot of times where players want to try different things, and play the game in different ways, and it's not really viable for us to put up a matchmaking system where we can feed everybody into everybody's different possible custom games." 

Kaplan first mentioned the possibility of an Overwatch server browser last summer, and it's funny to hear him describe it as a "really cool feature" in the video because, as he says, there was a time when they were standard equipment. For some gamers of a certain age, in fact (or maybe it's just me), the absence of a browser is still kind of baffling. Why wouldn't you want to have control over where, and with whom, you're playing? 

The Overwatch server browser is now in testing on the PTR, and will probably undergo changes as part of that process. But it's here—and it's about time.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.