Top Image: A purported screenshot of Sombra that was posted in the madness yesterday. It’s likely a very good fake.
UPDATE: The Moment in Crime countdown finished today, October 18th. TWO MONTHS AFTER THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED. It lead to nothing new or substantial, just some extra codes for people to figure out and more confusion and frustration.
This is not a well run ARG, Blizzard. Not at all.
Original article continues below.
Yesterday, we reported that Blizzard might be releasing a new character for Overwatch, the long rumored hacker called Sombra. This was supported by a subtle countdown happening on their site that had been going on all day, ticking down to about 12pm PST yesterday. As the countdown completed, Overwatch fans around the world gathered at their screens to see what new wonders Blizzard would reveal…only for the post containing the countdown to completely disappear.
A few minutes later, a different site related to the ongoing search for Sombra updated…with a different countdown. This one counting up, at a rate of about 1% a day.
Needless to say, fans are a bit frustrated right now.
The hunt for Sombra, documented here, has been a months long process that began before the release of the previous hero, Ana. It appears to be a fun diversion that Blizzard has put in place to pass the time until their next big reveal, which is fine. The problem, and what’s frustrating the fan base to no end, is that the puzzles seem to amount to nothing.
The idea of creating an ARG to promote your game is a good one. But if you’re going to do it, each piece of the puzzle needs to give the player more information as it leads to the next clue. A piece of a screenshot of the character, a tiny bit of information on how she plays, a sound bite, really anything. The way Blizzard’s ARG is set up, the solutions seems to be random. Yesterday’s password didn’t unlock the new site with its new countdown, for example. It just happened. It’s been the same with each new piece of the puzzle – Blizzard just releases a new piece without any real connection to the next one.
At this point, the prevailing theory is that this is very similar to the Sleeper Simulant debacle from earlier this year in the game Destiny. The fans aren’t going to solve a puzzle and unlock anything. Blizzard has a release date for Sombra, and everything they’ve been doing is essentially busy work.
It seems like someone at Blizzard is designing this puzzle for fun, while the internal team finishes off the new character. If that’s the case, good for them. But they probably should have consulted with some people who have run really successful ARGs, to see what keeps the fans playing. Today, the Overwatch subreddit is all out of hype for Sombra, and completely full of salt for Blizzard. If yesterday’s countdown had led to something meaningful, that might have been different.