BlizzCon 2014 Speculation – Was an Overwatch TV Animated Series or Pixar Movie Hinted?

Chris Metzen (Senior vice-president of Story Development) said something during the BlizzCon 2014 Overwatch Unveiled panel that totally floored me, and most likely a lot of people who caught Metzen’s drift.

As you can read in our Overwatch panel transcript (page 4), Metzen dropped a massive hint bomb that will leave you scratching your forehead in deep thought.

  • In summary, there won’t be an Overwatch single-player campaign.
  • The Overwatch story will be released in the same format as the BlizzCon video trailer.

Metzen: Just to say that we put a lot of time thinking about the world locations and kind of how each of the characters relates to certain of these places. They talk a lot about who the characters are. I want to take the moment– we didn’t call it out in the powerpoint that we were working of; but a lot of you may be wondering like well– “Is there a narrative flow to the gameplay?”

blizzcon-2014-overwatch-unveiled-panel-3

I guess we didn’t call that out yet. I do want to say is that Overwatch has a lot of story. I mean, well, not a metric ton. It has just enough story, but ultimately the game — 6v6, matches the narrative aspect of Overwatch is not inherent in the gameplay. It is probably obvious by now.

We are actually sorta trying a new experiment with Overwatch where the flow of the world and the storytelling that links these characters together, and kinda pushes the whole franchise forward overtime, we are actually going to try that outside of the game. So that is very different for us.

You know– Warcraft and other big games we have done over time. It is all kinda 1-to-1. (Editor’s Note: 1-to-1 refers to single-player plus multiplayer). And we felt this time around that trying to over-storify some of these gameplay spaces, just didn’t serve either science. So it’s kind of like the intro you guys saw earlier– our hope is that we get to do more stuff like that and ultimately push the world forward and really let you see the power of these characters as they interact.

We love Chris Metzen, and we know he is playful, and you can see the strain on his forehead, and his facial gestures and hand gestures that he wants to tell people about things planned behind-the-scenes which aren’t ready for public announcement. He’s eager to share, but the snipers on the roof (Public Relations) have lasers pointing to his chest and forehead.

Now if you decode what candidly I highlighted in underline and purple text — this open a can of awesome. An explosion of ideas, possibilities and speculation.

In summary, Metzen said there won’t be an Overwatch single-player campaign. The story of these heroes and locations will be released to the fans outside the game.

One might quickly think — oh, ok. There will be one or more of these media: An Overwatch novel or graphic novel or comics. Chances are that’s coming down the pipe.

However, Metzen said: “So it’s kind of like the intro you guys saw earlier.”

This means the Overwatch story will be told in the same fashion as the BlizzCon Overwatch video trailer. Gasp!!!!

Can the Blizzard Cinematics Department actually be able to take such a massive project having all the other video games to work with? I mean, to tell the Overwatch story you might need far more than 10 minutes of story crammed in tight to “ultimately push the WORLD forward and really let you see the power of these CHARACTERS as they INTERACT.”

That’s bold, mon!

Not the text, silly. It’s not even bold out. I meant… the vision. The goal of this Blizzard experiment, and the medium in which Blizzard plans to deliver the storyline.

I have no doubt there will be novels, and graphic novels based on Overwatch in the future. But what Metzen said there is bold. It is mind-blowing.

If you haven’t watched the BlizzCon 2014 Overwatch video trailer you can watch it at the bottom of this page. That video showed a PIXAR quality cinematic. There wasn’t realistic 3D like you expect from Nick Carpenter’s Blizzard Cinematics Team.

It was like watching Walt Disney Animation Studios’s Frozen or a PIXAR’s Brave movie.

So for Metzen to say the Overwatch story will be delivered like the video trailer intro you saw earlier that can only mean one of two things… or both:

Speculation

1. Animated Movie: Certainly the 3D cinematic quality of the Overwatch video trailer resembles that of a PIXAR animated movie. Unless Blizzard hires a really big group of professional artists to handle that project in-house, and a massive 3D render farm of servers — the natural thing to think is that Blizzard would have to outsource this project to the right partners and work close with them to deliver the Overwatch story in the same way we saw it in the video trailer.

For example, the Diablo III: Wrath animated short was outsourced and produced by Peter Chung and the Titmouse animation studio.

But something like what we saw at BlizzCon? The only studio that might be able to handle that is PIXAR.

Like Tracer, let me hit the chronal harness and FRrrooo-bloo-bloo-bloop! Pop!… back in time.

As someone who posts news about Blizzard games since 2001, I keep track of things. On September 28, 2012… Rob Pardo tweeted: “Yesterday got to spend a fun day at Pixar. What an amazing studio and cool people that work there.” Followed by: “I wish, but no, was just up there with Chris Metzen for a story panel.”

Back in October 10, 2012 … Rob Pardo said: “Excited to have Mark Andrews from Pixar down at Blizzard today!”

Now don’t take my word for it. Check out the tweets below:

Putting these loose random pieces of info together along with Chris’ comments concerning the new experiment to deliver the Overwatch story outside the game in the same fashion as what we watched in the video trailer — makes me think.

Might it be possible those PIXAR’s back and forth visits had something to do with Overwatch? Might it be possible to see a PIXAR Overwatch animated film or animated short?

2. TV Animated Series: With the quality of the Overwatch video trailer, it wouldn’t be so hard to think about a TV Animated Series. We saw kids in that trailer, and obviously Blizzard is aiming at a Teen rated game.

Who could Blizzard partner with to deliver a TV animated series, though? Nah, impossible. Right?… Wrong.

Let’s click Tracer’s chronal harness once more. FRrrooo-bloo-bloo-bloop!!! Pop!

On June 24, 2014 — I posted a speculation article based on what Chris Metzen said back at BlizzCon 2013 along with a job opening posted around the time I posted the article. Putting two and two together — all these pieces of the puzzle are starting to shape up really nice — but it could also be a stretch.

So the point, if you haven’t clicked the link above, is that Blizzard Entertainment posted a job opening searching for a Senior Writer with the very-very peculiar requirement that said: “Mentor the story team in television and animation writing.”

Say what?! Knowing how Blizzard takes their sweet time to make things right and ready to go (Soon) and when it’s ready — I can start to see a pattern here.

A short animated or a animated movie doesn’t necessarily showcases the amount of story needed to dish out the Overwatch characters in-depth. It can do the job with its 90 minutes constraint, but a TV animated series definitely expands the story to the next level.

A TV Animated Series allows you to get to know the characters, and to care for them and their backstory, and their ongoing story — which is paramount to “push the whole franchise forward overtime.”– as coined by Chris Metzen.

Someone else handling the manpower and technical aspect of animation, allows Blizzard to focus the cinematic team on other projects.

Now, I have presented some factual comments from Chris Metzen, job openings and tweets; but the fact is this is a speculation bubble trying to put puzzle pieces in place without the full picture.

Thus, take this article as a creative idea of what the picture might be in a speculative and figurative way. It might be true. Partially true. Or totally wrong.

With the pieces laid on the table, I’ll let you fuel the inner-hype and hope; or discard the ramblings of a fellow fan.

There is actually a third possible scenario. Blizzard has been experimenting with transmedia since the successful launch of StarCraft II’s Project Blackstone, including Diablo III: Wrath, The Burdens of Shaohao, and Lords of War.

The question is… do they have the resources in-house to deliver the story as an animated short or a web animated series?

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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