A lot of folks who’d never paid Hi-Rez’s new shooter/MOBA Paladins any mind started paying attention to it last week when it soared into open beta. And a lot of folks suddenly realized the game looks pretty familiar. Let’s not sugarcoat it: Gamers across Reddit and even our own comments were throwing around accusations that Paladins is an outright Overwatch clone.
If you’re plenty familiar with the history of the shooter, you’re probably rolling your eyes already, but Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris hopped on Reddit to spell it all out for the “copycat” allegers, starting with the history of Paladins, which has been in development since 2012 as a “fantasy based Global Agenda PvP like game” called Aurum. And then, at BlizzCon 2014?
“Overwatch was announced,” Harris says.
“We were shocked and not sure what direction to take. We were already so far along with Paladins, but we didn’t want to compete directly against Blizzard. We initially tried to find different ways to differentiate on game-play (different TTK, different style maps and game modes, different theme, etc), but the feedback from our tests, stats, and surveys showed that only a small part of our population was enjoying that style of game. In the end we said screw it and just made what we thought best, and closest to our original vision, even if people would think it’s too close to Overwatch. We created almost all the Paladins classes and abilities using Global Agenda and Smite as our template. We used our Aurum fantasy theme from 2012 and Smite characters as placeholders (although some like Grover the tree just stayed). As a last point, it would be almost impossible for a studio of our size to ‘clone’ Overwatch in a year, but Overwatch did have some nice features that we decided to incorporate into Paladins (Kill Cam, Improved Lag comp, some verbiage like ‘eliminations’).”
If you’re familiar with MMOTCG HEX, you’ll know that it was in a similar situation in 2013, having its Kickstarter launch scooped (let’s presume entirely innocently) by the announcement of none other than Hearthstone, back before the MMOTCG genre exploded.
Harris includes a number of reference links, videos, and examples of how the shooter genre has borrowed from itself over the years, worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre.