Why Blizzard Canceled The Overwatch Graphic Novel

"It was a very specific, contained story."


In November 2016, Blizzard announced that the Overwatch graphic novel, First Strike, had been canceled. But why? Now, Blizzard is shedding more light on the matter.

Speaking to Polygon, game director Jeff Kaplan said it was a "really hard decision" to cancel the book. It was not the content that caused Blizzard to scrap the digital book. Instead, the developer feared that putting it out could have limited fans from experiencing the game's lore as they wanted to.

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"The art was beautiful and the writing was excellent," Kaplan said about First Strike. "The reason had less to do with the specific content in that novel and more to do with the way that it would have limited us. It was a very specific, contained story."

"We sort of saw Overwatch really open up to the world, and listening to players and the stories they were telling and what they imagined the Omnic crisis to be really made us second guess what we were doing in First Strike. We thought, 'Hey, if we go down this path, it really closes all these doors.'"

Part of the "magic" of Overwatch, Kaplan said, is that Blizzard does not explain everything about the story. "There’s a lot going on in Overwatch right now where I think that the story in players' heads is often even cooler than what we can deliver to them."

Explaining First Strike's cancellation last year, writer Michael Chu said, "We've ultimately decided to take the story in a different direction."

"The original idea for the graphic novel dates back to the early days of the game's development and came from our desire to tell the story of the founding of Overwatch during the Omnic Crisis," he added. "In the years since First Strike's conception, we have done a lot of development on the universe and its stories. While the core of this story remains, we have changed and expanded upon how we see the events that took place during the first days of Overwatch."

Announced in July, First Strike was scheduled to come out in November 2016. It was described as a "brand-new entry in the Overwatch canon" and a story that would "will contain 100 pages of sequential artwork telling the story of the original Overwatch strike team." It was going to be written by Micky Neilson and penciled by Ludo Lullabi.

In other Overwatch news, Blizzard has confirmed an anniversary event for the game is set to start next week. Additionally, a Game of the Year edition is on the way, while a free weekend is also coming.

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