Hey guys, JR here and, yes, I know we've had a list already this week, but I wanted to do another one that isn't based on a poll.
So, Overwatch. In case you weren't aware, this is a video game. A team based, multiplayer first person shooter, to be precise, where the players choose a "hero" with unique movement, attributes and skills, from four defined classes (Offence, Defence, Tank and Support). It's become quite popular. The lowest professional critical score it has been given is an 8/10 by Polygon and commercially the game had 7 million players within a week of launch and is currently sitting at somewhere around 20 million players as of this week. So it's good. Well, I mean I freaking the love the thing. But I can't help feeling as though Blizzard (the game studio who developed and published the game) are missing out on something by just keeping the franchise in the realm of video games. So, I'm gonna list the 10 reasons I think Blizzard should make Overwatch a multimedia franchise. And by multimedia, I obviously mean media outside of video games, so TV, Movies, Comics, Books etc. etc. etc.
10. The Animated Shorts
The first and most obvious reason why Blizzard should expand Overwatch into other media, specifically other forms of onscreen media in this case, is because of the cinematics they've already made to introduce some of the characters and fill out some of the backstory and lore to the world. I mean just look at this one. It's less than 10 minutes long, yet it crams so much into that time. Plot set-up, character backstory, character development, an epic fight scene all in the space of 8 minutes. Oh, and the animation is gorgeous (well get to the art style of this game later). There are so far 5 of these character base shorts, featuring 8 of the 22 characters this game has playable, with a few other cinematic teasers. Imagine what they could do with 25- 30 minutes, or even an hour, on TV or Netflix. Imagine what they could do if they did a movie. Ok, maybe a movie might stretch it too far, as the sheer amount of characters would be too much, but a TV series? Just do a character rotor like Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes or Justice League did and you'd be fine.
9. The Established Lore
The amount of backstory that this game has is immense. You're talking at least 50 years of specific and detailed events laid out to provide background for the events you see in the shorts and the characters you play as in the game. Certainly some of that could be explored, possibly in a TV movie, or even in a comic book series (that Dark Horse might be doing in the future), like Gears Of War did to fill in the blanks between the events of its games. Show us the original Overwatch, the Omnic Crisis, give us a glimpse at characters like Soldier: 76, Reaper, Reinhart, Torbjorn, Widowmaker and Ana before they became the people they are in the game.
8. The Diverse Characters
As a game, and certainly as a "first person shooter", Overwatch is unique. Yes ok it borrows heavily from Team Fortress, but what makes it stand out and what drew most people to it in the first place was its characters. When you compare Overwatch to other FPS's like Call Of Duty or Battlefield, it's like comparing the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy to The Avengers. Yes they're both good (although comparing Call Of Duty now to Batman is a very very big stretch), but one is dark and serious whilst the other is an explosion of fun and one-liners. I mean, look at Overwatch's idea of a Soldier (Soldier: 76). What about their idea of a dark and edgy assassin, with Reaper? The guy might as well have walked out of a Todd McFarlane comic from the 90's. Their ninja is covered in neon green and their cowboy is Clint Eastwood if Clint Eastwood lived in a superhero cartoon. All of the characters are unique in design and personality and all are memorable. You want to play the game so you can see more of them. It's a hugely diverse cast from all over the world (Russia, Korea, Japan, America, Australia, France, Britain, Sweden, India, Egypt, Brazil etc.) and diverse looks (you've got the huge, fat Roadhog, the dwarfish Torbjorn, the small and chubby Mei, the muscle bound bodybuilder Zarya (who's a girl btw), the tiny and petit D.Va and the classically attractive builds of characters like Soldier: 76 and Widowmaker). Put these characters in another visual media and it's going to catch peoples eyes. And then the character's personalities and interactions are going to make them stay.
7. The Huge Fanbase
I'm sure a lot of you are wondering why I put a map of Sri Lanka as the picture for this. Well, Sri Lanka has a population of 20 million people. That's as many individuals play Overwatch. Overwatch has been out since May of this year and has accumulated the population of a small country in terms of unique players. World Of Warcraft (Blizzard's most famous franchise) had a peak subscription of 12 million back in 2010 and it got a movie released this year, 6 years after its peak popularity. Sure WoW has been around for 12 years now and over that time has accumulated something around 100 million accounts created over its life time, but even at its peak there weren't as many people playing it as Overwatch has 5 months after its launch. It would not be unwise to strike whilst the iron is hot.
6. Speaking of WoW
I mean its not like Blizzard don't have experience in having their properties transition to another medium. Now, whether or not you like the Warcraft movie or not, it is the most successful video game movie of all time and made almost 3 times its budget back internationally. And as I've said in the previous point, this was half a decade after the games peak popularity. If Blizzard were to green-light some Overwatch projects for next year, especially with DLC still being released to keep players interested, it could be on to something. Or alternatively, you could look at this and use it as a point on how Blizzard should learn from Warcraft's critical reception and steer more towards other media avenues, such as animation or comics, just keep out of live action.
5. Future Project Possibilities
No, I'm not suggesting they make a Heroes Of The Storm movie, I'm just using it to illustrate a point. If any Overwatch project were successful, it could open the door for more projects featuring Blizzard properties. A StarCraft movie or TV show? A re-launch of the WoW comics focusing on other events outside of the Burning Crusade? Anything to do with Diablo?
4. The Merchandise Opportunities
When you've got a franchise that has as many colourful, unique and popular characters as Overwatch, you'd think you'd capitalise on them as much as possible. I mean Overwatch already has more fan art than Jesus did during the Renascence and if you go to a convention you a guaranteed to see at least 50 people cosplaying as characters from the game (mostly Tracer, because she's bae), so why the hell isn't their more useless Overwatch tat for people to buy. I mean, I've only seen the Funko Pop bobble-heads (and yep, I do own some of them) and this Tracer figurine. The amount of money Blizzard is missing out of through merchandise is unbelievable. If they were to take Overwatch multimedia, they would make so much more money than they'd spend, just through toys alone. I mean, look at how well Warner Bros do out of DC toy sales.
3. There's Demand
If you go to the comments of any of the videos on the PlayOverwatch youtube channel, there's going to be a lot of comments saying "There needs to be an Overwatch movie". Any blog post, forum thread, piece of fan-art, there's always comments saying how there needs to be an Overwatch movie. Fans are already making their own cinematics for crying out loud or putting together the official animatics into near hour long mini-movies, some of which nearly have as many views as the individual animatics. That's usually a pretty good sign you've got some sort of a base to work from. Plus, 20 million unique players, with ticket prices what they are and you can always guarantee that extra people will go to see it anyway...
2. The Current Environment
Superheroes have never been more popular. Marvel and DC are both raking it in at the box office, hitting out of the park on the small screen and doing big business in print, DC are even on a roll with their animations, both movies and series. Sure, these two have been around for almost a century in one form or another, but their profiles haven't been higher than they are right now. It's a big-ass pie, why wouldn't you want to at least try to take a bite out of it?
1. The Money
So, let's be real here. Considering that the game made over $250 million in its first month and is still growing 5 months later means you can not lose at this point. By the time any of these things are announced, the game will have made back its budget 10 times over. You're unlikely to make a loss on anything Overwatch related at this point. You have all the assets for making an animated series or movie, you've shown that with the animatics and the assets you released to fans for their fan art. You have a deal with Dark Horse comics for them to publish what comics you have got so far, so why not expand that. With more DLC on the way and the game practically a shoe in for a number of Game Of The year awards it's not like it's going out of the public eye any time soon. There's big money to be made here.
I know they have some online comics on their website. They tell a bit of the stories of some of their heroes and villains. They are short, but very cool. If a full-fledged comic book or graphic novel could come out, that would be a start.
On the one hand, Overwatch has WAY too many characters to put in one movie, all at once. Somewhere between the X-Men, and the Legion of Superheroes… SO?
Don’t do THAT, do what the Comics always do (and horror movies keep telling you NOT to do)…
Split the team up!
First movie, focus on the team origin, the founders, and day-to-day operations, showing tantalizing screen shots of various teams in action. Present the threat(s) being faced, the stress of juggling so many balls at once, the effort that goes into recruiting new Heroes to join the team, and to keeping new Supers from going the Villain route…
And, yeah, more than a little action as the teams go out on assigned missions, some of which actually go the way they’re supposed to… 😉
Then, hold an online Poll (or six), to determine which TEAMS of characters viewers want to see the next movie focus on! Everybody has their favorite character, sure…
But, does this character team will with that one, or, indeed, with anybody?
Then, after the first three or four teams get movies of their own…
go to the Polls, again, and see which one deserves it’s own TV show!
Keep the “Agents of Overwatch” beginning as a framing vehicle, dangle the possibility of more shows and movies, and slowly ramp up the soap opera aspects for those who care for such…
Too many movies go into something like this with the notion of “Well, we’ve only got Affleck for 3 more movies, so we’ve got to do everything from his origin to his death in those three movies, introduce every background and support character for 3 seconds each, and have him defeat every villain he’s ever encountered…”, and they then wonder why it wasn’t popular.
With Overwatch, they’re all toons, so you don’t HAVE that problem… 😉
What, like Roadhog and Junkrat vs. Zarya and Tracer (who I ship BTW)?
Finally got around to buying this game last Saturday. I’ve been playing it so much, though admittedly, it’d be a lot better if I actually have friends who played. Or friends in general.
But yeah, I’d personally love some more Overwatch. Personally, I think that comic books would be the best, as animating, and animating that well, is not extremely easy or cost effective.
I’d also love another game, but almost a prequel. Like, not necessarily a story-based game, but with a single player campaign or something, and having the characters as they appeared before this game.
You’d have me convinced. Frankly, some geographic divisions would obviously be believable for smaller units. Once again, I’m sorry I don’t have investment capital.
The money I could make . . . .
I don’t play the game, so I’m not trying to be that specific. And, probably not just two-member teams… More like the old JLA/JSA crossovers, where 4 or 5 members would go after one threat, while 2 more ssuch team would go after a threat of their own…
Hadn’t thought of the geographical thing, but that’s also a very good point.
I will fully agree that there are way too many characters in Overwatch to fit into a movie. My first thoughts on how this whole project should be done is to start out with an hour long pilot animation to see if there is a market for an Overwatch TV show (it should stay animated, as I don’t feel the series would translate to live action well), and if that doesn’t work, then do a comic series or webcomic instead. However, my biggest drawback is that, whilst there are clear villains in the Overwatch cast, there aren’t enough of them. Reaper and Widowmaker are the most obvious villains, Junkrat and Roadhog are both outlaws but aren’t exactly on the same threat level as the previous pairing. Symmetra is the only other character who could be described as “villainous”, being as she is basically a corporate saboteur, and her motivations are to create a perfect society, which could go either way, but she doesn’t come across as a villain. In her comic short, she saves people from a building that her partner blew up. But, if we count Symmetra as a villain, that just gives us 5 bad guys to 17 good guys. So if they were to do anything serialised with the series, they’d need more villains. Like Hawk said, there needed to be a single player campaign in the game, just for that reason. We don’t know why anything in the game happens really, not that it needs it, but it would have been nice.
@William A. Peterson- If they were to split the cast up, they’ve already written sensible partnerships into the backstories of each character, so they’re more likely to go with them. Stuff like Winston and Tracer having a close friendship, Ana and Pharah being mother and daughter, Genji and Hanzo being brothers and Zenyatta being Genji’s mentor, the original Overwatch crew relationships after the original team was split up (Soldier: 76 and Reaper, Ana and Widowmaker are two that spring to mind immediately), Torbjiorn being robo-phobic (setting him up for storylines with Zenyatta), just to list a few off the top of my head. There’s a lot they can cover without resorting to polling the fans to ask who they want to see. But again, it would need a reason for focusing on just those characters in particular.
@Drinkfluid- I’m more of a WidowTracer guy myself. Although PharMercy is the best Overwatch ship. And I’d think that McCree would be a better foil for Junkrat and Roadhog, given that Junkrat has a bounty on his head and McCree is a bounty hunter.
1. Yeah, I have some bizarre ships launched from my head (Gordon x All guns except the Hivehand (Half-Life (thanks Freeman’s Mind!)), Vezon x Hahli (old/good Bionicle)) and I support some existing ships (I included Soriel (popular Undertale ship) in an AU, I <3 Alphyne (third canonical Undertale ship), I obviously like Cave and Caroline (Portal 2), but most importantly…Space core and space/Cake core and cakes/Rick and Chell (but only one way; Chell can't stand him)(also Portal 2)) and 2. oh yeah…good point. I don't even play overwatch; I just read a LOT about it on Tv Tropes.