2016 was a phenomenal year for the gaming industry, showing that the industry itself is growing more and more every year. The Nintendo Switch was revealed, Kojima is back with Death Stranding, the ending to an iconic franchise with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Pokemon Go making people get up and go outside, and then there was Overwatch. When gamers think of last year, we tend to think about what stood out and what gained our attention and love. Overwatch is a familiar name to most gamers now, whether they have played it or not. Overwatch is the first new IP from Blizzard in 20 years and had a huge fan group with the game being released on all major platforms. Overwatch had taken the world by storm with its lovable characters and has become a staple in the gaming industry. Some people will say they agree with the decision by the award shows to name Overwatch Game of The Year.
So when it came for The Game Awards, people had seen that Overwatch was a nominee for Game of The Year. A lot of gamers thought, “no way a multiplayer only game could win Game of The Year over a story rich game in Uncharted 4.” Well it did win Game of The Year at both The Game Awards and at the DICE Awards last night. But why is Overwatch Game of The Year? It is simple to answer: Cultural Impact. The impact Overwatch had on the gaming culture is unbelievable, having a player base of 10 million just a month after release. Uncharted 4 was praised as being the best in the Uncharted series and Naughty Dog seemed like it had Game of The Year locked up early. But no one at the time could see Overwatch becoming the juggernaut it is now. The impact Overwatch had on the world of gaming is what made it stand out from the rest of the field when being nominated for Game of The Year. Overwatch has won two Game of The Year awards, and is up for the same award next week at the GDC Awards.
What is cultural impact and how did it help make Overwatch Game of The Year? Cultural impact is a familiar thing that most gamers have been through at least once in their gaming life. People were impacted by the GameBoy being the premium handheld device at the time, people were standing outside waiting for consoles such as the original Xbox and the Nintendo Wii, the PS4 being revealed, the beginning of VR, and recently the reveal of the Nintendo Switch which has taken over the minds of gamers with being the console and handheld crossover gamers have been wanting for years. This is the type of impact Overwatch had, as now developers may look to Overwatch for their concept and try to make their own Overwatch, but it just won’t be the same. Blizzard treated Overwatch with some of the best marketing for a video game with animated shorts that featured their characters and revealed hidden lore behind the world of Overwatch and comics that revealed more lore to their ever expanding universe of heroes.
Overwatch is special in the way it had an impact on the world of gaming. Battleborn had the same idea, but it didn’t appeal or execute as well as Overwatch did. By January this year, Overwatch had raised their player base to over 25 million players. Everywhere on the Internet, people talk about the heroes and their lives, fan-fiction, new characters, and strategies. They also show off their fan art and creations of their beloved franchise. The gaming community had watched as Blizzard kept teasing at Sombra for months until she was finally released. They thought she would be first, but the mother of the hero Pharah, Ana was released first. The Overwatch community has been excited for the next character, predicting whether the next hero be Doomfist, which is said to be voiced by actor Terry Crews, or the newly teased character Efi, who was teased in a recent twitter post by the official Overwatch twitter.
No one knew whether or not the game could have a prime slot in the eSport field. Overwatch eSports has grown and is very popular in Korea, when the Overwatch Apex tournament was held last year featuring teams from all around the world, along with the BlizzCon 2016 tournament. Blizzard also announced the new professional sports field for Overwatch known as the Overwatch League. All the events that have transpired over the course of 2016 have made Overwatch what it is and what it will be in the near future.
The impact Overwatch had is unforgettable and the team at Blizzard couldn’t be more proud of what their world has become. The cultural impact is what makes Overwatch Game of The Year. Whether gamers like Overwatch or not, it got in their minds and stayed there all year, which nowadays is hard for a good game to do and will stay in the minds of gamers for a long time.