Play of the Fortnight: Overwatch Quick Play vs Competitive

Overwatch Quick Play gets a bad reputation amongst a certain type of player. Despite Quick Play being the “original” game mode, and the primary game mode that exists between Competitive seasons, players still look down on it. This causes all sorts of problems. Amongst these issues is one that has come up recently: players think they can get away with anything in Overwatch Quick Play.

In this Play of the Fortnight, we talk about the issues surrounding Quick Play and player attitudes towards it. Why do people hate on something that is so core to the game? And why is that a problem?


Why Should You Care About Winning in Quick Play?

A few days ago I had a player tell me something quite alarming. We were struggling against a relatively well-prepared team. Our team composition was woeful at best. We’d had a tank and I was forced to play a healer as we had a team full of offensive heroes. But then our tank disconnected in frustration at our teammates going in one-by-one. I asked in chat if we could change up our comp and got no response. Eventually I typed grumpily, “Our team comp is terrible, guys.” That’s when one of my teammates finally piped up.

“Tryharding in Quick Play? Lol.”

Overwatch Quick Play vs Competitive - Trying to Win

This had me baffled. I didn’t even want to win that badly, I just didn’t want to be stuck at our spawn in Volskaya, unable to even make it past the first building, let alone through the archway towards point A. I wasn’t “tryharding”, I was just trying, at all. There is a prevalent attitude that Quick Play is for having fun, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but players have started treating it as a place where the team comps don’t matter and anyone who tries to play the game at all is a loser.

Quick Play as Practice

Along with this attitude is the feeling that Quick Play is like a “practice” mode. And while practice mode does exist, along with custom games and such, I don’t necessarily think practicing in Quick Play is a bad thing. I love going into a Quick Play match and trying out a hero I don’t normally play. Perhaps it’s a hero I’m completely new at. I love experimenting with new team comps.

Overwatch Quick Play vs Competitive - Genji Needs Healing

However, some players have taken that stick and run with it. Instead of it being a place to try new heroes and practice your tactics and gameplay, Quick Play is anarchy. No one wants to play the healer or the tank most of the time. This is not completely new to Overwatch as a whole, but becomes painfully obvious in QP where the team could be camped inside their spawn and still stubbornly choose to play Genji, try to one-man the enemy team who are standing outside, and have the audacity to squawk, “I need healing” with his dying breath.

Quick Play should be a fantastic tool wielded proudly by the Overwatch community. You don’t have to worry about your rank; this is a perfect opportunity to try someone new to add to your competitive roster. It’s also a fantastic place to try something different and meet new players in a more casual environment.

So, Players Just Shouldn’t Have Fun?

I’m not at all saying that players shouldn’t have fun in Quick Play. I also don’t think that the odd game here and there with a team who doesn’t work well together is the end of the world. It happens. It’s the attitude that I find unpleasant and problematic. I also find it baffling.

Overwatch Quick Play vs Competitive - McCree Trapped in Spawn

That same match I talked about earlier? I was playing Ana, and had gold eliminations. We had only offensive and defensive heroes on our team, and none of them were new to the game. They’d all played competitive before. One was even Grand Master. They were throwing the game, and it felt intentional. This is where I find it confusing. Does a Genji player really enjoy throwing themselves bodily against the enemy team’s defense, dying over and over again and getting no kills? Does the McCree enjoy the fact that he can’t leave our spawn room because there are four enemies sitting right out front, forcing him back in?

I can’t honestly imagine that this is fun for people. Surely it’d be more fun if we could work together, even just a little bit and at the very least make it out of our spawn room to try and eliminate some of the enemies? Perhaps even in hilarious, wholesome ways!

The Darker Side of Quick Play

Then comes the darker, more sinister side of Overwatch Quick Play. Abuse and harassment are rampant in any competitive game. By the nature of the type of gameplay, people get fired up and sometimes say things they don’t mean. Or, hopefully less frequently, things they do mean when they’re angry. In theory, you could assume that ranked game modes would see more of this, and Overwatch competitive does have its fair share of angry players being abusive towards one another. However, Quick Play is not immune, despite its apparent “casual” atmosphere.

Overwatch Quick Play vs Competitive - Player Disruptive in Quick Play

Recently, a player posted on the Overwatch forums complaining about being banned. Jeff Kaplan responded explaining that the player’s account was one of the “worst offending accounts” Blizzard had seen due to the number of complaints made against it and the number of hours it had been silenced. The community is split: some think Kaplan’s response was funny and also important, others think it was potentially too much and encouraged a competition between trolls.

However, one thing stands out from the player’s post. “‘Disruptive gameplay’. In quick play. What,” the player lamented, followed by, “You aren’t even safe in quickplay lol. How do you even be disruptive in quickplay?” This is a very telling comment. Logically, it’s perfectly possible to be disruptive in Quick Play. Intentionally throwing the game is disruptive, even if your hero choices aren’t necessarily. Being abusive towards teammates who just want the team to work together is also disruptive, and is something I’ve seen time and time again.

Why is Quick Play Important?

A lot of players seem to think competitive is the only reason to play Overwatch. That’s not entirely incorrect: a large portion of the community is only interested in improving their rank. They don’t take Quick Play seriously, and that’s fine. However, Quick Play is immensely important for one very big reason. If you put aside the fact that it’s a great way to practice or to unwind with friends, Quick Play is at its core where everyone starts out, and where many players who are uninterested in competitive play end up congregating.

Overwatch Quick Play vs Competitive - Casual Games Together

Something a lot of Overwatch players forget is that not everyone is a competitive FPS player. Overwatch is highly accessible and has attracted a huge number of casual FPS players, or people who have never even played a shooter before. People who love Blizzard’s games are playing Overwatch, despite it not being the type of game they’d normally go for. Some of them will start doing competitive eventually, but others might never want to take that additional step.

For them, Quick Play is a haven. It’s somewhere for them to play and have fun while still at least putting some effort into achieving the objectives of a match. Maybe winning isn’t as important because there’s nothing at stake, but that’s flawed thinking. The point of the game is to have fun, and I find it hard to believe that anyone can really enjoy feeling like they’re repeatedly running against a brick wall. Unless, of course, they get joy out of ruining the game for other players, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

On the Flip-Side, Quick Play is Still Less Aggressive Than Competitive

While players do often treat Quick Play like it’s the less-important cousin of competitive, it is still a pleasant place to play more casually. Despite the lack of solid team comps and the predisposition for players to think it’s not important or not as valuable and the people who think trolling should be allowed there, you probably won’t be yelled at for picking a hero who’s less conventional. Attack Widowmaker may not be used nearly as much in competitive as you’d like, but you can certainly play her in Quick Play without anyone necessarily yelling at you over voice to pick something “better”.

It’s just a sad fact that some players have the attitude that anything non-competitive just doesn’t matter. This is fine if their behavior only affects them. But when it bleeds out into ruining other players’ fun it stops being fair.

Closing Thoughts

I don’t think this is a problem Blizzard can solve. Short of enforcing a meta, which I honestly think is a terrible idea, there’s no way to make sure that each team has a decent composition. I also don’t believe that players should be forced to play a tank or a healer if they don’t want to. I do think adding a quest system like Heroes of the Storm has might sway players towards trying roles they normally avoid. Other than that I think this lies in the hands of the community.

Blizzard could also make sure to improve their reporting system. Right now there’s a feeling in the community that reporting does very little. One question is why the player we mentioned above only got banned now, presumably temporarily, after being reported over 2000 times? If we see changes in this area, maybe Quick Play and competitive will both see big improvements.

However, we already know you can only truly affect yourself at the end of the day. If you read this post and recognized some of the attitudes in yourself, stop for a moment. Consider that to another player, Quick Play might be their competitive. They may never want to play in a ranked match, or at least not yet, and they still want to have a good, challenging game. By all means, pick a hero you’re really bad at playing. In fact, even choose to never play a tank or a healer, despite your team needing one. But when that one person in your team speaks up and asks for your team to work together, don’t belittle them. They’re trying their best to have a good time, just like you.

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About Psyche

Psyche is a loud, obnoxious gamer, streamer and writer from Northern Ireland. She formerly worked in the games industry as a community manager and eventually project manager. When she's not writing about games, or playing them, she's working on her first novel. RPGs, books, a cup of tea, and talking about outer space are the ways to her heart.