Overwatch 2 Devs Spent A Year Making Genji's Customizable Mythic Skin – Exclusive Interview
Overwatch 2 introduces a bevy of new characters, maps, and modes when it launches early next week. However, the most significant change arriving alongside the sequel's new free-to-play format is a Battle Pass. The pass' free track allows players to unlock a new support character named Kiriko, while its premium track – which costs $10 or 1,000 Overwatch Coins – offers unique cyberpunk-themed cosmetics like weapon charms, souvenirs, and legendary skins. Players who complete the 80-tier premium Battle Pass receive Cyber Demon Genji, the first of Overwatch's new class of customizable cosmetics called Mythic Skins.
We recently interviewed Overwatch 2's leadership group to learn about their philosophy while developing the Battle Pass and Mythic Skins' role in the sequel's revamped monetization strategy.
"When we looked at making this transition to free-to-play, one of the great goals we had was to give Overwatch players what they wanted, which was just continuous delivery of content. We know this because players have been telling us that keeps them engaged over the long term," says General Manager Walter Kong.
Kong tells us the size of Overwatch 2's core team is nearly triple what it was in 2016 – a necessary expansion to meet the short timelines of developing a free-to-play online game. He continues, "We spent a long time thinking through how to be able to fund continued development of the game in a way that would still present fair and enjoyable experiences for all players, whether they choose to pay or whether they choose to play for free. And our approach, in terms of players who pay, is to deliver tremendous value."
That's precisely where Overwatch 2's new skins come into play, though they're not exactly a cheap investment, according to Game Director Aaron Keller.
"We put a lot of time into building our cosmetics. A Mythic Skin takes us over a year to make. It's a massive investment for the team, and a massive amount of resources go into building these things. And we think it's worth it." Keller continues, "One of our values is to be able to put out the absolute coolest cosmetics we can, and we hope they can be seen as some of the very best in the industry."
Every season has a theme and an accompanying Mythic Skin featuring multiple layers that players customize to their liking.
In an exclusive follow-up interview with Overwatch's Commercial Lead and Vice President, Jon Spector, we asked for more details on Mythic Skins and the team's philosophy while creating them.
"Putting the Mythic Skin in the Battle Pass felt like the right decision, even if candidly, I think we'd make more money selling it directly in the shop. But we really wanted it to be one of the centerpieces of our Battle Pass system," says Spector. He continues, "The guiding principle behind Mythics was asking the art team to outdo themselves and make something even cooler than Legendary Skins. In some of our media assets, you can see the Dragonblade animation, which I think is the single coolest thing we've ever done with a skin."
In the case of Cyber Demon Genji, Spector tells us there are four separate layers to style: two Dragonblade variants, three helmets, three tattoo patterns, and multiple color schemes. There's also an option to randomize the layers for decision-averse folks. After unlocking the skin, all customization options are available to players, so they won't have to complete challenges or spend additional time playing the game to fully enjoy their reward for reaching Tier 80.
But players who were hoping Overwatch 2 would mirror Halo Infinite's no-expiration Battle Pass system will be disappointed.
"One of the pieces of player feedback I've seen since Mythic Skins were first announced is people feeling like [the skins] are more special if there's an aspect of earning them. So I think the ability to look back and say, 'I got Mythic Genji because I was playing in Season One and completed the Battle Pass,' will make it feel even more special," says Spector, who wants players to feel really good about investing money into the game.
"We've all been in the trenches for a while getting everything ready for October 4. The whole team is so excited about launching Overwatch 2. But also knowing that it's the starting point for the journey we're all on together, and knowing how much cool stuff we have down the pipeline, feels really good."