Jeff Kaplan: Hero bans are not Overwatch’s next big change

In a forum post, the lead game director discussed the viability of a ban system.

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Hero bans aren’t the magical solution Overwatch fans are looking for, according to Jeff Kaplan. The lead game director discussed his thoughts about the proposed change on the official Blizzard forums and confirmed that hero bans will not be included in the next big Overwatch update.

Since Kaplan announced a developer update would be coming in the next few weeks, rumors had been swirling about hero ban potential. But the topic has been present in the Overwatch community for nearly a year, with Overwatch League professionals and highly-ranked players saying the feature would improve the game. The proposed specifics differ from person to person, but hero bans within Overwatch would involve a “universal ban” of at least one hero from each match.

Hero bans have re-entered the conversation in the past week due to big names dropping hints. Streamer Jeff “emongg” Anderson said that a big change would be coming to Overwatch by the end of January. A Twitter post by Metro, who leaked several correct bits of information about BlizzCon, said hero bans would be the most likely update. After Kaplan confirmed a developer update was on the horizon, many players jumped straight to the assumption that bans must be involved. 

On a forum post about rumors and facts surrounding the possibility of hero bans, Jeff Kaplan weighed in with insider developer knowledge, as he did last week with the topic of 3-2-1 role queue. “As I’ve said before, we’re not of the mindset that we’re opposed to the idea entirely and will never add them,” Kaplan said about hero bans.

Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment forums

In the rest of the post, Kaplan listed the usual reasons that players want hero bans. Players are often frustrated with the balance of heroes or desire a “less stale” meta within the game. They believe that hero bans would fix these issues. “Hero bans are not a silver bullet solution to making the meta move,” Kaplan said. The developer team has studied other games and noticed a “ban meta” often arises.

On the topic of balance problems, Kaplan noted that the upcoming developer update tackles this issue. “We agree that there are balance issues. We agree balancing needs to happen more frequently. We disagree that hero bans are a good solution to balance problems,” Kaplan said. 

The game director was also blunt about the other reasons players may crave hero bans: to avoid heroes they don’t like. Kaplan explained that a part of Overwatch’s challenge is overcoming obstacles the other team throws at you. In a similar way, players who only play one hero instead of many do not factor into the developers’ decision-making about updates. 

“If we thought it was right for the game…we would absolutely make the investment,” Kaplan said about hero bans. While this may not be the insider update players wanted, Kaplan was hopeful about the changes coming to Overwatch in the next few weeks.

Within his forum comment, he mentioned multiple times about the importance of faster matches and acquisition of those matches.