Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan explains that after the seven-year Project Titan MMO collapsed, its dev team was partially scattered, the remainder tasked with coming up with a new game — in six weeks. Kaplan’s team whipped up three pitches: two MMOs (one in a Blizz universe, one in a new one) and a shooter, which ultimately became Overwatch.
The magic, Kaplan argues, came from taking MMO class concept art from Titan and turning the subjects into fully formed individual characters.
“‘[Chris Metzen] lit up to the idea that they were no longer classes but heroes, characters, people,’ says Kaplan. ‘It wasn’t the sniper; it’s now Widowmaker, and she’s a cold-blooded killer turned by Talon who used her to assassinate her husband. That was a way cooler story than just, hey, it’s the sniper, pick what nose you want and if you want the long or the short hair. It was a character, a human being. So Chris instantly said, Yes! This is what we should do.'”
The rest, as they say, is history; Blizzard went forward with the Overwatch pitch. Still, I can’t help but wish we’d gotten to see those other two MMOs.