Some competitive-minded PvP games have a phase where each team decides which characters are banned from joining in, and there appears to be a large contingent of Overwatch fans who believe adding this feature to the game would be beneficial, especially in light of rumors that have been popping up on YouTube and Reddit this week saying that a ban phase was happening. At least, there’s enough of a contingent where director Jeff Kaplan spoke up about it on the forums.
While the explanations in support of a ban phase in Overwatch appear to be many, the three that crop up the most according to Kaplan are that ban phases allow players to shake up a stagnant meta, remove heroes that need to be balanced, and eliminate heroes that players don’t want to play against. These points were the ones Kaplan plucked at to explain why a ban phase would actually not solve any of these issues.
In terms of a stagnant meta, the team is aware that there’s a perception of this sinking in to Overwatch. Adding a ban phase will not improve the meta but instead add a “ban meta” and make things worse. While Kaplan doesn’t appear to agree with this perception, he also appreciates that simply having that perception is bad for the game, and so he promises that there will be work to make the meta feel more fluid, which will be discussed in the next developer update video.
On the subject of hero balance, he also agrees that balancing needs to happen quicker, and once again references the next developer update video which will discuss ways in which the team is going to accomplish this. However, letting players ban heroes that are unbalanced “feels like a sledgehammer” to Kaplan.
As for wanting to ban heroes you don’t want to play against? Kaplan effectively is telling you to suck it up.
“Basically, it’s a PvP game. You don’t get to pick what the enemy team does. The challenge is overcoming the enemy team with teamwork, ingenuity and skill. It feels really off to me that the other team dictates how or what I play. So if your reason is that you don’t want to play against certain heroes, I think we’ll agree to disagree on this point. We’ve changed out minds in the past. But that’s where we’re at for now.”
Kaplan then goes on to explain that they’re not adding a ban phase to protect those who “one trick” — players who only play one hero exclusively — and even explains that the game is better if players try to master a handful of heroes. The bigger reasons are about making matches move faster (a ban phase would add more time) and balancing dev time and cost (making a ban phase would take a fair amount of both). He also argues that a solution to Overwatch’s problems needs more nuance. “The number one thing we ask is, ‘what is the problem that we’re trying to solve?’ We’re not fans of just adding ideas that are in other games ‘just because,'” explains Kaplan.