As seen in WoW Insider, Blizzard Entertainment trademarked “Overwatch” at the US Patents and Trademark Office website and the date filed was April 1, 2014.
WoW Insider mentions something that other people incorrectly associate. The Dark Below, as reported by MMO-Champion, was never trademarked by Blizzard Entertainment in the US Patents and Trademark Office. Some say it was a hoax. Someone pretending to be Blizzard. We might never know actually what that was all about. The fact is it was never listed where it counts. On United States soil.
Overwatch, on the other hand, it is listed where it can’t be denied, confused with, nor considered a hoax. It is listed and factual. So what one must ask oneself is: What the heck is Overwatch?
Blizzard has filed a few trademarks over the past 4 years that are not necessarily a video game. For example, Cute But Deadly turned out to be a series of tiny figures which have been sold at the BlizzCon 2013 store (The set contained: Kerrigan, Diablo, and Arthas) and the SDCC exclusive Sylvanas.
Battletag raised eyebrows a few years ago too, and we know what it turned out to be. A Battle.net feature spanning across all Blizzard games. BattleChat, that’s another Battle.net feature we are now familiar with. These three trademarks — we know now what they are for.
To understand the meaning of Overwatch, you can go to any dictionary online. For the sake of picking one, let’s go with Wikipedia:
In modern warfare, overwatch is the state of one small unit or military vehicle supporting another unit, while they are executing fire and movement tactics. An overwatching, or supporting unit has taken a position where it can observe the terrain ahead, especially likely enemy positions. This allows it to provide effective covering fire for advancing friendly units. The term overwatch originates in U.S. military doctrine.
An ideal overwatch position provides cover for the unit, and unobstructed lines of fire. It may be on a height of ground or at the top of a ridge, where a vehicle may be able to adopt a hull-down position. If the overwatching unit is in a position to fire over advancing friendly units, great care must be taken not to let fire fall short. The friendly units should be within tracer burnout (the range at which tracer rounds are visible).
Overwatch can be performed by platoons during company fire and movement, by individual armoured fighting vehicles (especially tanks) or infantry sections, in platoon fire and movement, or even by fireteams or individual soldiers, in the final stages of an assault.
Overwatch tactics and firing at the short halt were especially important in armoured warfare before modern tank gun stabilizers were developed, since moving tanks were unlikely to hit any target. Even in modern tanks, however, it is much easier to spot enemies at a halt. — source: Wikipedia
By that description, one can assume this is either StarCraft related or at least a First-Person Shooter (FPS) based on a new IP.
It is an idea that could be a bit hard to wrap our mind around. I would expect an FPS game from Blizzard to be titled StarCraft: Ghost. Maybe StarCraft: Ghost: Overwatch as the first episode? Plausible.
A whole new IP? Can’t be ruled out. Maybe one that is not related to any of the three franchises: Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft. However, a new IP doesn’t necessarily mean it is not based on one of those three. Hearthstone is considered a new IP but based on Warcraft. It is not an RTS. It is not an MMORPG. It’s an online multiplayer collectible card game.
PAX East 2014
Now that I reached the point of mentioning Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, I wanted to point out that even if it was filed on April 1 (April’s Fool) it may have been coincidence. I remind you that Blizzard Entertainment surprised everyone on PAX East 2013 when they announced Hearthstone out of the blue.
Well, PAX East 2014 begins this very Friday, April 11, 2014. Blizzard plans to showcase Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition (PS4) and World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.
Can there be room to announce a new Blizzard game at PAX East 2014 with such a packed roster? Who knows. One thing to consider is that last year Blizzard Entertainment did issued a press invitation to fansites and gaming sites hinting at a new game to be announced at PAX East 2013.
The problem with Overwatch being a new game to be announced at PAX East 2014 is that Hearthstone’s press invitation went out on February 26th (without informing what the event was about or what game it would be about), and PAX East took place on March 22, 2013. Nigh a month after the teaser.
We are barely two days away from PAX East 2014, and we haven’t heard zippo about a brand-new Press Invitation nor about a New Game Announcement. So the chances for that to happen are slim, but can’t be ruled out either. The press is still going to have a massive presence at PAX East with all these Blizzard games to be showcased. The problem is that there is only one panel scheduled by Blizzard Entertainment, and that’s for the Heroes of the Storm. I am willing to give it a 1% chance probability, but I’m mostly skeptic for Overwatch to be announced at PAX East.
Overwatch. An April’s Fool trademark? A brand-new IP? A non-RTS StarCraft-related game? A First-Person Shooter? A Zombie Apocalypse game? Yea, yea — remember how the Diablo III TV spot aired during The Walking Dead TV series? Red Herring of something Zombie-themed coming our way?
So many possible scenarios one can speculate on about this Overwatch trademark. There is yet one more to consider. There is actually two Overwatch trademarks. This is the second one:
Now this one is the interesting one: “Entertainment services, namely, providing on-line computer games; providing computer games that may be accessed via a global computer network.”
Ok, now this points me toward something completely different. Could this be a Battle.net feature? This second Trademark description sounds more like the Battle.net Launcher. Or some sort of Steam environment where one can download and purchase video games through the app itself.
Yet, why name it Overwatch? (taking in mind the militaristic definition). We are only left pondering the many possible speculations. While it is still possible for it to be an April’s Fools, Blizzard Entertainment this year posted in the front page of each gaming website a big April’s Fools seal for each of the crazy news they dished out on April 1. Yet, none of them mentions Overwatch.
Are you completely sold on the idea that “Overwatch” was an April’s Fool? I don’t think so.
We go back to the drawing board. Overwatch. Militaristic term. We have a brand-new job openings for an Unannounced Game. Now — a few years back Blizzard Entertainment coined the term unannounced game in the Careers page for a couple of games. These were in reference to Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. Those were secret until they were announced. The Titan MMO was later coined Next-Gen MMO in the Blizzard Careers page. Since the only unannounced game we know of, Titan, is referred to as Next-Gen MMO — this new Unannounced Game is something else.
Overwatch does sound a lot like something akin to Half-Life 2, Call of Duty, or Halo.
To further dilute the term Unannounced Game and to filter it as a brand-new thing — the job listings specify this is a new team similar to the Hearthstone team. A small team created by Blizzard.
Here are some quotes and keep a close eye on the underlined words:
Lead 3D Modeler
The way the light glints just off the barrel of a Terran Marine’s rifle as he takes aim. The intricate, grinding dance of gears as a vault door opens to reveal the treasure within. When it comes to creating a living, breathing world, it always comes down to the details. As the lead 3D modeler for Blizzard’s next epic game, you will be the architect of these moments, bringing to life the next generation of truly kick ass weapons, equipment, and dynamic environmental props.
A lead 3D modeler must be able to be many things to many people. You must be an artist to the art director, collaborating closely to define the vision for weapons, props, and hard surface modeling. You must be a gamer to the engineers and game designers, eager to jam daily to ensure that those weapons play and feel as fantastic as they look. And of course, being a lead means being a leader, and you’ll be inspiring and guiding some of the most talented and passionate artists in the industry. — source: Blizzard Careers
Using the skills of both artist and designer to their fullest potential, a concept artist lives on the front line of development. You’ll work closely with level designers and environment artists to imagine new lands into existence; just as your knowledge of anatomy and expression will be pushed to new heights designing the heroes, villains, and the creatures between to inhabit this all-new world. source: Blizzard Careers
Lead 3D Character Artist
Kerrigan, Raynor, Tyrael, Diablo, Arthas, Thrall…these are just a few of the epic characters that inhabit our worlds. Each one is as iconic and unforgettable as the last, and each one was brought to life by the hand of a talented artist.
And now it’s your turn…
As lead character artist for Blizzard’s next amazing game, you will lead the team that brings future legends to life.
Your unique skills as lead character artist allow you to be an unstoppable combination of visionary artist, gamer, and leader. As an artist, you’ll collaborate closely with the art director to define the vision for both the characters and organic modeling. As a gamer, you’ll be inducted into a cabal of designers, engineers, and artists whose singular goal is to create truly epic hero moments in gaming. Lastly, you’ll draw on your veteran experience to guide a team of the most talented artists in the industry in creating a legion of characters to inhabit this new and exciting world. – source: Blizzard Careers
These job postings are kinda telling us a few hints here and there of what we might expect. The following job posting reveals this is a small team similar to Hearthstone’s team.
Blizzard’s newest game team is looking for someone to join its ranks as lead producer. With Hearthstone, Blizzard has revived its tradition of creating small and nimble game teams and we are following in those footsteps. As part of our team, you will join in the leadership of a small but mighty band of developers and exert your talents to help craft our processes, organization, goals and execution.
We can’t tell you exactly what the game is yet, but trust us, it’s awesome. — source: Blizzard Careers
Now the following job opening shows this will be a multiplayer and possibly have a Map Editor. However, one of these map editing examples are the Hammer and UnrealEd Map Editors. This is big folks. The Hammer is Valve’s Map Editor for Counter-Strike and Half-Life. The UnrealEd is the Unreal Engine Map Editor. A plethora of games made with that engine.
Is Overwatch a First-Person Shooter?
The team behind Blizzard’s next big hit is looking for a driven, passionate level designer with experience building compelling multi-player gameplay spaces. Are you motivated, enthusiastic, and geeked up by creating fun and interesting environments? Do you excel in creating exciting, replayable gameplay experiences within your levels?
You have extensive experience with industry standard level editors like StarEdit, Hammer, and UnrealEd – source: Blizzard Careers
Is your portfolio full of crazy explosions, blasts of energy, and a whole bunch of blood splatter? Do you believe that playing with fire is a good thing? If so, Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of the most epic games in the world, is seeking a VFX artist to help develop Blizzard’s next hit game!
Work alongside a team of the best artists, engineers and designers on the planet and enjoy the support of a company whose culture is centered on collaborative game development. We are gamers at heart at Blizzard – across all levels – and it shows in our craft.
The ideal candidate has extensive experience working with 3D packages, in-game FX systems to create a wide range of VFX (fire, smoke, magic, electricity, explosions, etc.) — source: Blizzard Careers
Back on December 10, 2013, while searching through Twitter I came across a tweet from Michael Booth who joined Blizzard Entertainment to join this mysterious new team. Michael Booth was formerly Turtle Rock Studios CEO and worked on Left4Dead. He shares credits as one of the four programmers of … Counter-Strike.
Alright, my skepticism is starting to dissolve a few notches. April 1 …. Overwatch trademark. April 11 … PAX East. Every time a trademark comes out within 2 weeks of a gaming event, something big happens. Only a few hours to find out if it is true or not.
Blizzard filed the trademark Warlords of Draenor on November 1, 2013. Warlords of Draenor was unveiled at BlizzCon 2013 a week later on November 8, 2013. Something to think about with PAX East coming up.