Can We Stop Normalizing 5v5 Hero Shooters Before It’s Too Late?

Enough beating a dead format.

Story Highlights

  • The gaming industry has seen many 5v5 hero shooters come and go in recent years.
  • The core issue lies with the lack of meaningful innovation, relying on formulaic approaches.
  • The gaming landscape has evolved, and players seek experiences beyond the hero shooter genre.

In recent years, the gaming industry has seen many 5v5 hero shooters come and go. It’s a genre epitomized by titles like Overwatch. While this genre once breathed fresh air into multiplayer shooters, the saturation of such games has led to diminishing returns. With upcoming releases like Marvel Rivals and Sony’s Concord facing criticism for their lack of innovation, it’s about time we reconsider our enthusiasm for this overdone format.

The Overwatch Effect

When Overwatch was first released in 2016, it was a groundbreaking success. Blizzard Entertainment’s vibrant characters, team-based gameplay, and accessible yet deep mechanics captivated millions. Its success inevitably led to a slew of imitators, each hoping to replicate Overwatch’s magic formula. However, as the novelty wore off, it became clear that merely copying Overwatch wasn’t enough to capture and sustain player interest.

Several games have attempted to ride the coattails of the hero shooter format only to crash and burn spectacularly. Battleborn, developed by Gearbox Software, launched around the same time as Overwatch and was quickly overshadowed. Despite its unique blend of MOBA elements and first-person shooter mechanics, it failed to find a substantial audience and was ultimately deemed a commercial failure.

Similarly, Lawbreakers, created by Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions, was another casualty in the crowded hero shooter market. Despite its fast-paced action and innovative gravity-defying mechanics, Lawbreakers struggled to differentiate itself and gain traction. The game was praised for its gameplay but could not overcome the stigma of being yet another hero shooter. It shut down less than a year after its release.

Despite Its Overwhelmingly Negative Review Standing, Overwatch Is The Posterchild For 5v5 Hero Shooters
Despite Its Overwhelmingly Negative Review Standing, Overwatch Is The Posterchild For 5v5 Hero Shooters | Source: Xbox Wire

The Lack of Innovation

The core issue with the proliferation of 5v5 hero shooters is the lack of meaningful innovation. Developers seem to be relying on the same formulaic approach: quirky characters with unique abilities, team-based objectives, and a focus on fast-paced combat. While these elements were initially engaging, they no longer hold the same appeal. Players are looking for new experiences, not recycled concepts.

Marvel Rivals and Concord are the latest entries in this tired genre. Early impressions indicate that these games offer little beyond the standard hero shooter template. Fans are already expressing disappointment, lamenting the industry’s reluctance to push boundaries and explore new ideas. This sentiment was evident during the reveal event for Concord, where the reception was lukewarm at best.

The Changing Landscape of Multiplayer Games

The gaming landscape has evolved significantly since the heyday of Overwatch. Players now have access to a wider variety of multiplayer experiences, from battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends to cooperative games like Destiny 2, Warframe, and even indie hits such as Helldivers 2. These games offer distinct gameplay experiences that cater to different tastes, making the repetitive nature of hero shooters even more glaring.

Moreover, the success of games like Among Us and Valheim has shown that players are hungry for unique and innovative gameplay experiences. These titles succeeded not because they followed trends but because they offered something genuinely different. Developers would do well to take note and invest in creating novel experiences rather than sticking to a safe but stale formula.

Gamers Want To See Innovation, Not Recycled Concepts
Gamers Want To See Innovation, Not Recycled Concepts | Source: Game Rant

The Financial Risk

From a business perspective, continuing to churn out 5v5 hero shooters is increasingly risky. Developing a game is a significant financial investment, and the crowded market for hero shooters means the chances of failure are high. Companies that bank on these games without offering something new or compelling risk not only financial loss but also damage to their brand reputation.

The closure of Boss Key Productions after the failure of Lawbreakers is a stark reminder of the risks involved. Despite a well-known developer and a solid gameplay foundation, the lack of market interest led to the studio’s demise. This should serve as a cautionary tale for other developers and publishers considering similar projects. Some claim that going Free-to-Play might’ve salvaged the game, but I doubt it could leave Overwatch’s shadow.

Boss Key is shutting down. Cliff’s statement attached.
byu/SumB1tchRaptor inlawbreakers

Looking Forward

To reinvigorate the multiplayer shooter genre, developers need to embrace innovation and creativity. This could mean exploring different game modes, experimenting with new mechanics, or even blending genres in unexpected ways. The success of early games like Splatoon shows that there is room for innovation within the shooter genre if developers are willing to take risks. Keyword is “taking risks”.

Additionally, listening to player feedback and understanding their desires is crucial. The backlash against Marvel Rivals and Concord highlights a disconnect between what players want and what developers are delivering. By engaging with the community and being open to new ideas, developers can create games that not only capture players’ attention but also sustain it. Give the people what they want, simple as.


The era of 5v5 hero shooters is waning, and for good reason. The genre’s oversaturation and lack of innovation have led to a growing disinterest among players. As we look to the future, it’s essential for developers to break away from this tired formula and pursue new and exciting directions. Only then can the multiplayer shooter genre thrive once more, offering fresh and engaging experiences that capture the imaginations of players worldwide. So, one final time, it’s time to stop normalizing 5v5 hero shooters before it’s too late.

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Saif is a seasoned video game journalist who works for eXputer. His passion for gaming was nurtured by playing on arcade emulators since his early childhood. Specializing in writing opinion pieces, he dives into the intricacies of the latest titles, the gaming industry, and the wider community. A sucker for good storytelling and a love for immersive worlds, Saif eagerly explores the latest releases while turning his thoughts into engaging and entertaining articles. Writes Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Psychology.

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