Swapping my main game from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to Overwatch was relatively easy for me. With CS:GO growing stale for me after a distinct lack of meaningful updates, Overwatch managed to pick me up on its hype train and it’s not stopped since. However, as I migrated from one to the other, I noticed a great many differences between the two games and the communities they’d both nurtured.
One of the first things I noticed is just how “shy” the general Overwatch community is. In CS:GO it’s incredibly rare to find someone at a moderately high rank without a microphone, while in Overwatch, at Diamond level, I frequently go through multiple games without speaking a word beyond “Hey, anyone got a mic?” as no one responds to me. Despite, in some ways, Overwatch being more challenging to effectively coordinate attacks and defences, it hasn’t yet developed the “culture” of using information to help aid the team, as CS:GO has. This could be because the CS:GO community has an incredibly high level of interaction with the pro and semi-pro scene whom frequently create tutorials for new players that Overwatch has simply not had the time to create yet. It may also be due to CS:GO being an older game and having tactics and general practices that have been developed for some maps for years that can quickly be taught, that, again, Overwatch doesn’t have yet.
Another reason for the aforementioned shyness could be that CS:GO has voice chat enabled by default, while in Overwatch (minimal) effort must be exerted to actually communicate with your teammates, and many people have negative stereotypes associated with voice chat after perhaps being flamed themselves or simply hearing stories, so players may find themselves less incentivized to join in on the conversation. Overwatch announces your status in the voice chat with a message in chat, so people know if you’re listening or lurking and not communicating, perhaps resulting in flaming; alongside that, some may have the notion that if someone says something out of line, potential trolls may quickly look at your career profile and harp on about which heroes you play, something I’ve seen occur far too many times. However, with Blizzard’s implementation of the “block” and “prefer” system, players are less likely to have multiple instances of such occurrences, unless they want them.
Fewer people are required to use voice chat in Overwatch because of the communication wheel, which enables those too shy or without a microphone to still contribute at a moderate level, again, in stark contrast to CS:GO where no such feature is offered and text chat is generally inadequate as letting your guard down for a time can be a death sentence, unlike in Overwatch, where interactions can be far less frequent.. However, this does reinforce the “silent” culture that Overwatch has adopted thus far as many think that the wheel is an adequate replacement, when in fact, voice communication is the premium method.
The Overwatch community, at large, is far more casual than the CS:GO community. A prime example can be seen by taking a quick look at the front page of each games’ subreddit: Overwatch is populated by fan art, Sombra theories, humorous “shitposts” and Play of the Game gifs, while /r/GlobalOffensive can frequently be seen to have posts about esports news, game mechanics and “volvo pls fix” threads. In fact, many of the more serious Overwatch players have flocked to /r/CompetitiveOverwatch in hopes of finding a haven where those that are generally more skilled can discuss game mechanics and esports without being downvoted as they are on the “normal” subreddit. As you can see below, the top post of /r/Overwatch at the time of writing is a thread discussing cosmetics, such a sight is rare on /r/GlobalOffensive.
In game, Overwatch is far more facilitating for the casual players by offering a very good casual mode in the form of Quick Play, which, for many, scratches the metaphorical itch of playing Overwatch without having to invest too much time or care in the game. While in CS:GO, the only viable mode offered in-game is it’s competitive matchmaking, which not only takes up to an hour compared to Overwatch’s 30-minute maximum, but puts your rank, and thus status within the community, on the line. In Overwatch’s second competitive season, players will no longer be able to derank from their tier, a far cry from what CS:GO’s competitive mode purports to be. Quick Play, Custom Games being in the client and matches against AI allows players who are normally competitive have a break and simply mess around in a different environment, while this is simply impossible in CS:GO without joining custom servers or being flamed by the other 4 members of your team.
Overwatch harbours a far more positive community than CS:GO has ever had. This could be due many factors, but one of the largest and long-lasting issues the CS:GO community has had with Valve, the developers, is that they tend to implement large changes like a whole new weapon and test on the entire player base, some who preferred the old version, but perhaps more importantly, the professional scene must instantly accommodate these changes to stay in line with Valve’s major system, completely opposite to Blizzard who had a PTR from the start and have pushed every major change through their test region before making everyone play it, this causes an extremely positive community as it seems like Blizzard are actually listening to community feedback, which, coming from CS:GO, seems totally alien to me.
I hope I offered at least a small insight into how these two communities differ. If you have any feedback, hit me up on twitter: @owmacho