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OverwatchMar 2, 2020 2:30 pm CT

A new Overwatch Play of the Game bug finally gives Support players the spotlight

Overwatch players have noticed something weird has been happening ever since the latest patch. Support heroes are earning Play of the Game left and right for seemingly no reason. Instead of Genji slashing his sword through four people, it’s an Ana dutifully healing her allies from a safe corner of the map. The new occurrence has sparked some discussion about who rightfully deserves the end-of-game highlight and the often thankless nature of playing Support in Overwatch.

Overwatch’s Play of the Game system has slowly deteriorated since its launch alongside the game in 2016. The entire system is based on the in-game “fire” reward system for kills and assists, as well as some vague factors like the amount of environmental kills and whether or not you’re on or near an objective. Generally, it doesn’t reward healing or saving anyone from being killed.

These days, it’s not uncommon to see a Play of the Game that is definitely not the most skillful play in the match, or something as unsatisfying as a Mercy resurrection of someone else that scores a bunch of eliminations. Some heroes, like Ana have almost no chance of getting one because of how their kit works. And when it comes to Damage heroes, there are only so many Reaper Death Blossoms you can watch before you want to leave before the Play of the Game even runs. It’s clear that the system is tired and desperately in need of a revamp. Blizzard admitted this not long after the game came out, and it actually promised a full-fledged Play of the Game 2.0 feature that we still don’t have.

The new bug that overly prioritizes Support heroes — even giving them the spotlight while they’re dead — underscores the problem with Play of the Game and why it should be fixed. There was a time where Play of the Game surprised you and motivated you to play new heroes. It also was the source of a lot of laughs when a Symmetra would get it for a bunch of turret kills while standing in an empty room. Play of the Game was the moment that you could enjoy as the competitive tension faded away. It was Overwatch as a spectator sport, Overwatch as a comedy, Overwatch as a community. Lately, it’s been Overwatch as an audience to everyone who plays Damage heroes.

In a recent Q&A, Game Director Jeff Kaplan reflected on the ways the game often encourages Damage heroes with systems like Play of the Game. Kaplan’s comments touch a nerve that’s been increasingly exposed as the game has added more and more Damage heroes as well as reworked the existing ones to be more lethal. “If you think about all the visceral feedback you get from a kill — we light up the kill feed, you get an elimination message, there’s a very satisfying sound — we don’t do quite the same level of diligence when it comes to things like how much damage did you block, or did you save somebody from dying by healing them at the right time. And that’s on us. That’s something that we need to fix over time.”

The hope is that the game will eventually acknowledge the many ways Support and Tank players impact a game. Although the current bug isn’t the ideal form, it teases what it could be with some tweaks in the future. A simple search on the Overwatch subreddit surfaces tons of people excited that they finally got an Ana or Lucio Play of the Game. These plays shouldn’t be novel; they should be satisfying and celebratory of what makes the game unique.

Blizzard has yet to acknowledge the bug. It could be fixed on the game’s PTR patch — which should make its way to the live servers this week. But maybe it wont be, and we can enjoy the break from the usual Play of the Games while it lasts.

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