Overwatch Dev Responds to Tick Rate Confusion, Talks Possibility of PS4-Xbox One Cross-Play

Blizzard says there is "so much confusion" around the shooter's tick rate; console cross-play is on the company's radar.


In a new interview with Eurogamer, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan talked about a number of topics around the game, including its much-discussed tick rate and the possibility of PS4/Xbox One cross-play.

On the subject of tick rate, Kaplan said there is "so much confusion," some of which is related to people not understanding how the game's netcode works. "For example, the server does tick at 60Hz, it's the client update rate that is lower. That just shows a general misunderstanding," Kaplan said.

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Overwatch's client tick rate is 20.8 Hz, which explains why the game may not feel as responsive as other FPS titles. Kaplan went on to say he thinks some people are reading too far into this to explain why certain things happen in the game.

"One of the things that players are upset about is that if they get shot, where they perceive they were behind a wall, that this is a problem with server tick rate," he said. "Certainly there are contributions that could happen with both the server and the client update rates that could cause something like that to happen, but usually, in most cases, you're talking about latency."

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Kaplan added that there aren't many examples of a game as "fast" as Overwatch, which also complicates the issue further.

"You haven't seen a lot of shooters that move as fast as Overwatch, with abilities like Tracer's blink or Genji's dash," he said. "There's also not a lot of games using a killcam like Overwatch does, so it all sort of makes the problem more evident than I think it would be in other shooters. We're addressing it in a number of ways."

Additionally, Kaplan reiterated that Overwatch players can make use of a "high bandwidth option" in custom games to reach the full 60 Hz. The designer said it's somewhat ironic that people are calling for a higher tick rate in the main game, but Blizzard's data shows only 0.08 percent of matches are making use of the 60 Hz option.

"I've heard a lot of players say 'god dammit, Blizzard, just add it to quick play.' It would be wildly irresponsible for us to add that to something like quick play or competitive without getting more testing on the feature," Kaplan explained. "This is something that you care about and you want to see more of: well, please use more of the feature that's in the game. Give us feedback, so we can iron out all of the kinks with it and if things are looking good, we can absolutely add it to other parts of the game."

Kaplan went on to say that pushing the 60 Hz option live to all players "wouldn't work" for around 20 percent of the playerbase. There could be a day when Blizzard comes up with a solution to make it work for more people, but the company is not rushing to do this.

"That's a problem we can solve if we get more testing on it, but we couldn't just put it live," he said. "The last thing we want to do is take 20 percent of those people and tell them you can't play Overwatch anymore because people were angry on the forums and we flipped the switch and added this thing."

Also in the interview, Kaplan talked about the possibility of Overwatch introducing cross-play support between the PS4 and Xbox One versions. No game currently supports this. Rocket League could be the first, and Blizzard is keeping an open mind about what it might do in the future.

"There hasn't been any progress [on PS4/Xbox One cross-play], but we're still very open-minded about it," he said. "I know that Rocket League was coming out with cross-platform play between PlayStation and Xbox. I'm a huge Rocket League fan . I primarily played on PC, but I want to check it out and see how it feels. I also want to see what the fan reaction is and if they're liking it. I have friends at Psyonix and I want to get their reaction too. We are very open-minded, but we're going to wait and gather feedback from developers and from fans."

The full Eurogamer interview is a great read and well worth your time if you're interested in the game. Go read it here.

Overwatch launched at the end of May for PC, PS4, and Xbox One behind a generally positive critical response. It became a quick success, attracting some 7 million players right out of the gate. This makes it "one of the most successful global game launches of all time," Blizzard said.

For more on Overwatch, check out GameSpot's review and what other critics are saying.

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