With a thriving esports league and a sequel on the way, Overwatch is still popular—even with over four years under its belt. But just how many people are still playing the game?
Blizzard Entertainment usually remains relatively tight-lipped about the exact number of players Overwatch has. But the developer will occasionally release a number to check in with fans. In November last year, Overwatch’s lead director Jeff Kaplan mentioned a rough estimate of the player base size at BlizzCon 2019.
BlizzCon 2019 marked the next step in Overwatch‘s history: Overwatch 2. Blizzard revealed the first-person shooter’s sequel during the convention’s opening ceremony and gave fans a brief overview of the upcoming game.
Kaplan assured longtime fans that their skin collections and accomplishments would carry over to the sequel should they choose to buy a copy.
But while going into the details of the overlap between games, Kaplan briefly mentioned a rough estimate for the number of players Overwatch has.
“We want to make sure that all Overwatch cosmetics come forward with you into Overwatch 2, so all of your progress matters,” Kaplan said. “Nothing’s getting left behind. No one’s getting left behind. We worked so hard to build this community of over 50 million players at this point, the last thing we would ever do is do anything to split what an amazing community you guys are.”
It’s unclear exactly what the number is referring to but it likely means 50 million copies sold and not active players. That number has also most certainly increased from last year.
The last number of total Overwatch players we got from Blizzard was 40 million in May 2018, just as the game’s second-anniversary event approached. Months later, though, Blizzard reported 37 million monthly active users across all of its games in an August 2018 second-quarter earnings report, a number down one million monthly active users from the first quarter in 2018.
None of these are necessarily bad for Overwatch—it’s definitely not a “dead game.”
Blizzard continues to make money from the game through loot box sales and continued interest in the Overwatch League, despite the uncertainty caused by this year’s global pandemic. And with Overwatch 2 on the horizon, the franchise still has a bright future.
Overwatch will share its multiplayer environment with the sequel, meaning more maps, game modes, and playable heroes are on their way for players of the game—even if they choose not to buy a copy of Overwatch 2. And with new games to play and new characters to try out, Overwatch and its sequel will certainly bring in a new wave of players or get others to return to the franchise.