On Wednesday, Blizzard Entertainment posted another beautifully animated and tear-jerking short for their hit game Overwatch.
It received 5 million views in less than 24 hours. In the little over a year since the game was released, Blizzard has released quite a few of these videos, as well as a series of comics. The end goal of this creative work has always been attributed to promotion. But what if it’s something more? What if Blizzard is preparing for Overwatch: The Movie?
What even is Overwatch?
Overwatch is *the* new game on the scene. It was released last year, and went on to win just about every Game of the Year award there is. And there’s a lot of reasons for that, but this isn’t a game review. So let’s focus on the story.
It’s 2046, and the world has some pretty advanced tech, including teleportation, flying cars, laser weapons, and artificial intelligence. That last one was used to create omnics, androids that were meant to make life better. Until they didn’t. Because that’s how it always goes.
The omnic factories (called ominums) began making weaponized omnics that attacked humankind all over the world. Considering the technological superiority of the omnics, humans were in for it. In response, the United Nations decided to found an elite force of soldiers and scientists from all over the world, called Overwatch.
Over the next 30 years, Overwatch grew its ranks and defeated the omnics. During the peacetime however, it fell apart. Politics and internal fighting splintered the group until they disbanded, and their activities made illegal by the UN.
The game “takes place” (it’s all online and there’s no technical story to be played) in 2076, with a new crisis brewing, the world once again in need. In response, Winston, a hyper-intelligent gorilla bred on the moon and former member of Overwatch, sends out the call to reactivate the group.
TL;DR: It’s The Incredibles meets The Avengers, but international.
But video game movies are never good. Why make one?
Fair point; video game movies are rarely good. See Assassin’s Creed, or Angry Birds, etc. And making any movie is an expensive ordeal. Game companies have to worry about brand image, sales impacts, and more. So on the surface, creating another video game adaptation (let alone another “superhero” movie) seems like a bad idea.
International markets, Warcraft, and Chinese investors
You forgot about that particular component, didn’t you?
Blizzard Entertainment has already dove into film making with Warcraft, which largely flopped in the US in 2016. But that didn’t really matter to them or Hollywood.
Warcraft had one of the largest openings in Chinese box office history. It opened on more screens than any film had prior. The result was a $200 million Chinese box office, and a spot as the 13th highest grossing film of all time for China.
Now let’s look at Overwatch in China.
In just 2 months after its release, it sold 5 million copies in China, making it their fastest selling video game ever. Their players are ranked as the highest in the world, and regularly compete in the Overwatch World Cup.
Remember that video that Blizzard released? It features Mei-Ling Zhou, Overwatch‘s sole Chinese character. While she is popular with fans all over the world, Blizzard’s decision to make a video about her in particular is no accident.
Overwatch: The Movie is the exact sort of property that Chinese production companies like Tencent Productions, Huayi Brothers, or Alibaba Picture are looking to make. It has an established fan base, is popular in China, prominently features a Chinese character, and has large returns in international markets.
Blizzard’s Overwatch shorts are well-made and good promotion, without a doubt. But it takes a lot of time and technical and creative effort to make them. Given their success with Warcraft, it would be foolish to chalk up these videos to mere marketing stunts. They’re prepping us for an Overwatch movie.
Next week, we’ll cover what the Overwatch movie will probably be about.
Would you want to see an Overwatch movie? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!