Overwatch’s public test region, the PC-exclusive feature where players can test out patches prior to their public release, doesn’t sound like it’s coming to console at any point. There’s a good reason for that, as explained by director Jeff Kaplan in his latest developer update.
The 15-minute video above is devoted to the PTR, with much of the first half spent explaining why the feature hasn’t made it to consoles. A big reason, Kaplan explained, is that PlayStation 4 and Xbox One patches must go through Sony and Microsoft, respectively. That’s not an issue with the PC version.
“On the PC, we run on Battle.net or the Blizzard [Entertainment] platform which is something we wholly own and control here at Blizzard,” said Kaplan. “That means patching it as frequently as we want is very easy for us, and we incur any of our own risk to our system.”
That’s not the case for PS4 and Xbox One, however. It’s up to Sony and Microsoft to certify new content for games on their systems. Kaplan said that the certification processes add extra time to the patching process, whereas on PC, Blizzard Entertainment is solely responsible for pushing out updates on its own timetable.
Overwatch players on console may be disappointed by this, but according to Kaplan, the extra time spent testing out a new patch on PC helps console players in the long run.
“We use the PTR time on PC to help get through that certification process on the consoles,” he said. “We’re not ready to be on the consoles at the time we’re doing the PTR experience.”
All of that feedback from PC players is also weighed heavily by Blizzard, Kaplan said — both positive and negative. Most tweaks made to pre-releases patches are based upon player statistics and comments on places like the Battle.net forums. In the end, all of this helps out every Overwatch fan, including those on consoles who get the full versions of updated content — like, say, Roadhog’s recent hook changes — around the same time as PC players do.
As for the PTR coming to Overwatch on consoles one day, Kaplan’s philosophy is “never say never.” Yet it will prove to be “logistically challenging,” he explained, based on that certification process. PS4 and Xbox One Overwatch players, it may be better not to hold your breath.