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Blizzard ‘Overwatch’ takes fighters to Kyoto’s cherry trees, London streets, Egypt edifices

Blizzard ‘Overwatch’ takes fighters to Kyoto’s cherry trees, London streets, Egypt edifices

TOKYO: Blizzard Entertainment’s “Overwatch” is something different: a bit gentler, a more inviting world, a concept that may be hard for shooter fans to get their heads and tongues around.

Breaking from the shooting genre’s tradition, the Irvine game developer takes players into fights amid cherry blossom trees in Kyoto, on the vibrant streets of London and among gleaming edifices in Egypt. There are still freakish weapons and awesome explosions, but they come with bright scenery and charming heroes who watch over Earth to protect humanity.

The fun and almost cartoonish atmosphere of “Overwatch” reflects Blizzard’s broader attempt to remain a force at a time when more people than ever play video games but when the number of strong competitors has grown just as fast. Its highly regarded brand is no longer enough, on its own, to drive mega-sales.

Blizzard, which announced plans for “Overwatch” this month, has deep roots in the computer game market, but gaming is fragmenting as it grows. Developers have to make their would-be blockbusters as easy to jump on and play as the smart phone games that have become so popular.

Blizzard is releasing updates faster to keep players hooked, accepting that a series of small hits might be a more effective use of resources than one masterpiece. It’s even making the renowned “World of War craft” game franchise easier to play, and plans to release a movie based on the series in March 2016.