Oh boy! It’s time for the Play of the Game! Who got it his time? That Torbjörn pounding on his turret? Our team’s first or second Hanzo shooting his ultimate down a chokepoint? Nope, it’s the Bastion that didn’t move at all during the match. AGAIN.
Overwatch’s Play of the Game is a brilliant but deeply flawed addition to the game. In theory it acts like an end-game highlight reel to show of a player’s sick skills or a pivotal moment in the match. In practice it shows whoever got the most kills in five seconds. You’ll end up seeing the same Play of the Game with the same handful of characters each match, it’s just the map and the name of the player who changes.
“Well yeah,” you say, “it’s a dumb system with a dumb AI and it’s dumb.” You are right. A computer is going to have a tough time figuring out the best few seconds of a game. But as bad as system is currently, it’s also an important one that needs to be fixed.
As much as some people would like to believe Play of the Game is a vanity that doesn’t really matter, I think it affects us more than we would like to admit. I know I’m likely to commend someone with a sweet Play of the Game (Otherwise it goes to the support or the tank.). I notice people rushing dangerously far ahead of Torbjörn’s perimeter, hungry for the kills that’ll get them recognition instead of the dwarf. I see players stacking two or three heroes their team doesn’t need just for a shot at personal glory. Heck, I bet Bastion wouldn’t get as much hate if it wasn’t a PotG magnet.
It might be silly, but players do want recognition for their skills. Who doesn’t want Play of the Game? It’s just that right now the Play of the Game encourages getting kills and showboating over teamwork. For example, a Reinhardt may use his Earthshatter to set up a team-wipe, but chances are the Play of the Game will go to whoever killed the most in that moment. A well-timed Transcendence from Zenyatta can turn the tide of a battle, but he only gets Play of the Game if he gets in a few last-hits with his orbs. In a game about working with and managing a team, the PotG is offering the wrong kind of incentive to the player.
Play of the Game needs to improve or change if it wants to foster the right kind of teamwork in Overwatch. Maybe weight the PotG to give support roles or abilities more time in the spotlight. Maybe include more than one person in the PotG. Or maybe just make so Bastion and Torbjörn have to work for their PotG.
Overwatch’s Play of the Game is a great feature I don’t want to see go away. When it works, it’s a neat way to wrap up a match. But right now the PotG is kind of a mess. It’s not interesting most of the time and it gives the wrong impression of how a team-based game should be played. Rather than see it scrapped, I want it to be improved because there’s a lot of potential and fun to be had with it.