Overwatch is kind of a big thing in the gaming world, but we’re guessing this comes as no revelation to most of you.

It’s been highly popular both in terms of raw player number and online presence, with a particularly active, vocal and dedicated fanbase and lively cosplay community. Exact playerbase milestones are a great way to track how the game is growing in the industry, and it’s been grinding through these milestones with ferocity.

Being only roughly one and a half years old, racking up such a large playerbase is quite the feat in today’s market.

With a highly saturated AAA scene, gaming is very much a long-tail industry and it isn’t easy being among the top games, but Overwatch passed by the 25 and 30 million marks in quick succession recently. So it really wasn’t a question of whether we’ll get here, but rather when.

Blizzard Entertainment announced earlier today that the game has officially reached 35 million players.

While this very likely doesn’t translate into 35 million active players, what with alt accounts and people who have drifted away, it should be a fairly close metric. And while we aren’t likely to get a platform breakdown of player spread, we’re guessing that Overwatch parts with convention for AAA multiplayer shooters and is most popular on the PC. This likely suits Blizzard just as well, as the developers only recently ventured back onto the console scene after a long time as a PC-only company.

Overwatch is definitely their highest profile game right now. Unfortunately StarCraft 2 has sort of faded into the background, Diablo 3 bobbed back to the surface with the Necromancer addon recently and still has a large dedicated fanbase, World of Warcraft is on the rise again with the Legion expansion pack, but it’s definitely Overwatch that’s dominating the news, even more so than free to play card sensation Hearthstone.

Overwatch was in many ways a departure from typical Blizzard titles.

Not only was it their first shooter, but also their first recent game that was developed for consoles simultaneously with PC. Overwatch is arguably the developer’s least story-heavy IP – in spite of having plenty of lore material, it doesn’t touch the worlds and storyline of any member of the “trinity”. While it isn’t their first multiplayer only game, the MMO structure of WoW is very different, so the whole framework of Overwatch was a new direction as well – but it all paid off.

The runaway success of Overwatch is reflected in many ways.

For such a young game, it already has an official e-sports circuit, and has spawned imitators as well. Overwatch can be said to have popularized and introduced the lootbox monetization mechanic (for better or worse) to mainstream AAA gaming. It’s an influencer, a trend-setter. It’s one of those games which is leading the charge in terms of diversity, having a selection of highly varied heroes, many of whom break typical character stereotypes.

Overwatch will undoubtedly continue to grow, however at this point, these 5 million increments aren’t the real milestones – we’ll be waiting for the game to eventually cross the 50 million mark!

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