Overwatch is unlike most other competitive shooters when it comes to scoreboards and stats. It doesn’t have a global scoreboard you can pull up at the press of a button and it doesn’t surface common shooter stats such as kill-death ratio for the whole game to see. Instead it focuses on surfacing positive numbers. Focusing on the positives sets the game apart from other shooters and makes it a more welcoming game.
For most competitive online shooters player score is tied heavily, if not completely, to their kill-death ratio. When that information is surfaced for everyone to see it gives other players an easy target. Toxic communities are nothing new in multiplayer games but most often players see this harassment when they play poorly. Rather than trying to help players get better, and improving the game’s player base overall, new and learning players are attacked. Overwatch helps curb some of this by limiting the statistics it shows to all players.
Overwatch is also much more welcoming that other competitive games. Trying to learn any competitive game can be daunting, especially because most are quick to only highlight what you are doing wrong. Overwatch takes some of that sting away by showing things you are doing well from the beginning. It makes you eager to continue playing rather than frustrated. That drive pushes players to continue playing and improving rather than pushing them out. It also helps to focus on the fun parts of the experience. Even in a loss I can have a good time playing because the game doesn’t make it a point to dwell on negatives. At its core the game is focused on fun, and everything from its art style to design are built to support that.
There is some concern that for Overwatch to become a high-level competitive game this information must be surfaced. The argument is that for players to truly understand where they need to improve or why they lost they need to see the negative stats. I would argue that there are already plenty of games just like that to choose from. Overwatch has been deliberately designed to be something different. Those design choices have filled a hole. The shooter genre has been sorely lacking in a game that let people of all skill levels have fun.
Overwatch has the depth to be a rewarding competitive game but it’s also welcoming enough for anyone to pick up and enjoy. That is something worth preserving in a genre overcrowded with hyper-competitive games. It provides feedback to players in a way that keeps the game enjoyable and compels them to continue playing. That laid-back feeling, where having a good time is more important than the competition, is the reason I will continue to come back to Overwatch long after I have left other multiplayer shooters.