Blizzard Explain How Overwatch Picks Play of the Game Moments

by : Ewan Moore on : 30 May 2016 10:41

Blizzard’s multiplayer shooter/MOBA hybrid Overwatch has been out in the wild for a few days now, and everyone seems to be having a whale of a time.


Of course, fans have been despairing and adoring in equal measure when it comes to the seemingly random nature of the post-match Play of the Game mechanic.


For the uninitiated, Play of the Game basically shows what the game considers to be the coolest feat at the end of a match, and it won’t always end up what you or I might expect it to be.

For example, it’s entirely possible for us to be treated to a replay of a stationary turret that somebody placed, rather than say, a well timed headshot or melee attack.


CarbotAnimations actually sums the system up pretty brilliantly in a hilarious animation, which you can watch below.

GameSpot recently spoke to Overwatch’s lead software engineer, Rowan Hamilton, who discussed exactly how the system works, and how Blizzard are working to tweak it.

The original idea behind the system is definitely a great one. Hamilton revealed that the team wanted everyone to have this awesome social moment at the end of a match where all the players can watch this one epic thing that happened.

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But as GameSpot point out, the system isn’t perfect, and can sometimes sideline support/defensive characters.

Hamilton acknowledged this, and said that Blizzard are working on it:

From a technical standpoint, it’s a really hard problem to have a computer figure out what is cool. They’re not very smart. They take some numbers in, they put some numbers out. It’s hard to figure out what is cool there.

We also have a lot of cool systems internally where we can play with the algorithm that determines Play of the Game and play the same game back again, and be like, “Okay if I tweak these numbers, what’s going to be the Play of the Game that gets picked this time?” So it might’ve been Widowmaker getting three snipes, but I change the weighting on some other aspect that we take as important, and it could all of a sudden be Mercy resurrecting everyone on the point two second before the match ended. It’s going to be an ongoing process, and hopefully we continue to improve it.



As you might imagine, there are a ton of variables that are considered when choosing Play of the Game, from the obvious stuff like damage and kills, through to support plays such as healing.

Hamilton also revealed that they’re constantly adding in new stuff to consider, such as determining how hard a shot was to hit based on how fast the target was moving.

At the moment though, the biggest thing Blizzard seem to be keeping an eye on is the competitive ranked aspect, and how the game is performing on a technical level now it’s out in the wild.

Ewan Moore

Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn't gotten out of his mid 00's emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.

Topics: Gaming


  1. GameSpot

    How Overwatch Picks Play of the Game Moments