There are around 100 developers working on Overwatch right now. That number comes from director Jeff Kaplan directly in a thread on the game’s official forum, where he answers two big questions about the game’s development and how the process of developing and refining the game works. The developers on the team are further supported by other “shared” teams across Blizzard, such as the merchandising department and the animation department, both of which help create the various associated pieces of merchandise and animated shorts (respectively).
Kaplan also talks about the development pipeline when it comes to implementing new features, which is more complex than it might seem at a glance. There are some features that seem simple but have technical barriers, but there are also features that are easy to implement (what Kaplan refers to as “low-hanging fruit”) that can overwhelm developers if you try to get too many of them implemented at once.
“Something like a new map or hero takes months for us to get into a polished state that would be acceptable for release,” he explains. “We can get new map and hero prototypes up extremely fast, but these look very ugly and often re-use existing art assets. When we prototype things, they often are created hastily and in a way that is very buggy and unoptimized. So even though we can stand something up very quickly, if we decide it’s fun and want to see it through, it can be a very long time before it gets released to the public. We’re held to a very high standard so we cannot just ‘rush something out’ and not get called out on it.”
Even if you’re not into Overwatch yourself, there’s a lot of interesting stuff to be found here if you are keen on the process of game development.