Blizzard’s Overwatch has 11 unlockable skins for each of its 22 heroes, and players can switch skins at the game’s main menu before jumping into matches. What they can’t do, is change skins before a match starts from the hero select screen — at least, not yet, they can’t.
Responding to a fan request, Game director Jeff Kaplan stated on the game’s official forums yesterday that this is an option Blizzard “would like to give” to Overwatch players. In fact, it sounds like the studio has already designed a solution. “Our design for it allows for changing skins during ‘Assemble your heroes’ but not after that phase,” he explained.
There are no plans, however, to let players change skins in the middle of matches, and Blizzard has a couple of good reasons for this.
“We want people to be able to change skins before a match,” Kaplan continued, “but we also don’t want people changing skins mid-match. We have two reasons for this:
1) Your team needs you. Go help them
2) We don’t want to add confusion to the ‘read’ of the game by having people constantly changing appearances during the map.”
Kaplan’s first point makes sense for obvious reason. His second is perhaps less obvious but likely no less relevant. It’s already difficult enough for some players to correctly identify opposing heroes based on some of their more unique skins, and having these skins frequently change in the middle of matches would almost certainly create more misidentification problems and hamper players’ ability to strategically engage opponents.
In any case, it sounds like players can look forward to getting the ability to swap skins from the hero select screen, but there’s no established time frame for when Blizzard might roll out this update.
“This feature has been on our list for a very long time and is something we want to make happen,” continued Kaplan. “It usually gets deprioriritzed [sic] for other things (such as the Season 2 competitive changes). It’s something we really want to do though.”
Blizzard is thinking about adding some other new abilities for customization options, too. Players can already choose to show a random highlight intro pose from their available poses, and one forum user requested randomization for hero emotes too. Kaplan says Blizzard is on top of this one, too, and that the team wants to give players access to more customization options like multiple sprays and emotes.