Jeff Kaplan: Queuing system for specific roles in Overwatch could 'hurt spirit of the game'

Putting together a balanced team in Overwatch has always been a problem. No matter how many times you plead for two supports, two tanks and two damage dealers, someone will always upset the apple cart by stubbornly picking their favourite hero no matter what. That's led some to propose a system whereby players pick a specific role—tank, healer or DPS—before queuing up for a game, guaranteeing a reasonable team composition. In an interview this week, game director Jeff Kaplan said that the idea is a "good starting point", but that he isn't keen on putting it into the game.

Kaplan says the community has proposed two versions: an "honor system" whereby you queue as a particular role but you can switch out when you make it into a game in order to respond to enemy picks, or a rigid system that locks you in to your chosen role. "Neither is fully satisfactory to me,” Kaplan told Kotaku, adding that the more rigid system "hurts the spirit of the game".

He's also worried about how long it would take players to queue for DPS slots, which would inevitably prove the most popular. He pointed to a similar system in World of Warcraft, in which some players are left waiting an age before finding a group. 

"The issue I have with it right now, which we would run into if we’re not careful, is that tanks and healers get matched just like that. It takes a second and you’re in a dungeon. But if you say you’re DPS, it takes like 30 minutes. I don’t think that’s what people are expecting right now. So I want to be careful.”

The solution to the problem of team composition, Kaplan says, is to get players to group up with people they enjoy playing with, and Blizzard is determined to make that process better in Overwatch. “I do think people would have more fun playing in a pre-made group than just sort of randomly hoping the matchmaker finds them someone with the same values as them, and I do think people’s reasons for not wanting to group are actually valid right now,” he said. “I think we need to address all those things at once before we can just get to a role queue.”

Would you like to see a role-queuing system in Overwatch?

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play.