My favorite moments this year was watching the battle of the better MOBA for console play out. Battleborn vs Overwatch became Xbox One vs PS4, and the fan battle was intense for a bit. In the end though, we all know one console outsold the other and one title followed suit. While very different games, Battleborn and Overwatch had a similar enough concept and feel that they took the console world by storm. Could the giant that Blizzard was outweigh the fan-favorite among many that was the creator of the witty and imaginative Borderlands series. I’ll let you decide which console (and game) won, but if you ask me the winner is pretty apparent.
One of the reasons this was my favorite moment of this year was because of the advertisements and media marketing. Batttleborn was EVERYWHERE. The presence of this title in media and in person at conventions was astounding. E3 was Battleborn central with a huge display and booth dedicated to letting players try their hand at the next 2K project. Battleborn would represent “Every Kind of Bad Ass.” The reveal trailer and commercials featured great soundtracks such as Alt-J’s “Fitzpleasure” and M83’s “My Tears are Becoming a Sea.”
Most people have forgotten that since the reveal because they favor Overwatch. People really just like Overwatch more because of their animated shorts, but there was LITERALLY NO Overwatch media presence until right before the release of the game. Blizzard grabbed the NBA playoffs and the SuperBowl and blew up afterwards with animated shorts, but Battleborn had a much bigger presence months leading up to its release. Some say its this over-saturation of advertisement that hurt the title in the end. That’s the power of Blizzard, with little to no advertisement they grab the two big events and become a household name with their advertising and animated shorts. It was a brilliant PR move.
There were some interesting discussions as Battleborn released their free playtime beta right before Blizzard. Did Blizzard release right after to sabotage Battleborn? Was the big name company bullying 2K games? Would it matter either way? The most interesting part of the Battleborn vs Overwatch debate was watching as the video game industry was divided over two beloved companies for what most people thought would be a similar experience. The idea of two companies creating very similar MOBA titles for console and releasing them within the same time period was a new challenge within the gaming industry that I hadn’t seen before.
When the beta gameplay hit, people either loved Battleborn or were disappointed with what they assumed would be a completely different title. Either way, it was the first foray into a MOBA style game of its caliber on console. It had roots in te system but was very different. Then Overwatch came in with a similar basic idea, but a very different execution. That left players with two options, the wit and banter and differing gameplay of Battleborn, or the touching, easy, and comfortable style of Overwatch and its gameplay.
What eventually happened saw the rise of one title and the fall of another. While people have differing reasons for one or the other passing and failing, there are some basic differences that appeal to the general public.
- Overwatch had every player available upfront, Battleborn had characters locked behind certain events
- Battleborn had a witty story and characters with personality. Overwatch had characters with depth and heart and snuck little voice lines and emotes for players to learn more about these characters
- Overwatch was simplistic, pick up and play, Battleborn had a learning curve, but was also fun
- Battleborn had paid DLC & a Season Pass, Overwatch has free DLC
- Both titles provided unique and diverse characters refreshing against the gaming norm
The list goes on, but the ability to see these things play out in such a public view where two companies competed for a space in the video game culture of a semi-MOBA title brought to console was an interesting time in gaming in 2016. Watching this culture of gaming unfold and how the companies reacted and adapted their games through patches and changes was a first for me to watch in the industry. In the battle of Battleborn vs Overwatch, who do you think won?
What was your favorite gaming moment in 2016?