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Todd Harris, Co-founder and COO of Hi-Rez Studios, has responded to allegations that Paladins has copied gameplay from Overwatch in a thread on the /r/Paladins subreddit.

Paladins was released on Steam and directly through Hi-Rez’s website on September 15, 2016 after a healthy beta. It appeared to be similar to Overwatch in many respects and this was pointed out in a video by comedy YouTuber dunkey:

The above video shows a few examples of similar themes and abilities between characters in both games.

In response, Todd Harris talks extensively about the development history of Paladins and the differences when it is compared to Overwatch. To start, he states that many of the abilities currently seen in the game were previously showcased in Hi-Rez Studios’ earlier titles Global Agenda, Tribes: Ascend, and Smite. He also states that both games have similarities to Team Fortress 2 which was released in late 2007.

He also breaks down the abilities of the games. Overwatch has 100 abilities compared to 85 in Paladins. By his reckoning, around 42 of his game’s 85 abilities are similar to those in Overwatch, 36 were seen in Hi-Rez Studios’ previous titles, and 6 abilities were in Overwatch first. He also states that every ability seen in Overwatch can be found in first-person shooters that were released in the past. In summary, his viewpoint is that both games iterated on their predecessors.

Todd Harris has also pointed out that some of the things claimed to be copying from Overwatch had been in the game before they had been made public. He states that he believes Blizzard Entertainment’s much larger marketing budget is difficult to compete with and that players may not even be aware of features that were publicly known in his company’s title before they were publicly known in Overwatch. This video from IGN shows gameplay of the Paladins character Ruckus & Bolt:

Anyone who has played Overwatch might think that this character is very similiar to D.Va. However, this video was released on August 3, 2015. D.Va, Mei, and Genji were announced as characters three months after the release of this video.

Todd Harris makes his case with behind-the-scenes information and video in greater detail in the original thread so take a look at it if you want to see Hi-Rez’s side of things. TechRaptor’s stream team played the game on stream during the beta and you can check out our impressions of that beta here.

Quick Take

I think that Hi-Rez iterated on successful games in the past and present – Overwatch included. I think a good case is made for how they haven’t blatantly copied Blizzard’s game despite perceptions to the contrary. However, I put over 750 hours into Global Agenda and I feel some of the examples in that game are portrayed a bit disingenuously. There were four classes in that title which could have various different loadouts of equipment and abilities. The example videos from Global Agenda in the thread were done in such a fashion that it may give the appearance that these were distinct, unique classes rather than equipment on multi-role classes. Even so, I don’t think they’ve copied Overwatch’s game in any significant way any more than Overwatch has copied the games that came before it.

Do you think Paladins has copied gameplay from Overwatch or do you feel it is purely coincidental? How do you think the two games compare? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!

  • Trakkar

    I mean, it sucks for Hi-Rez, but the similarities are there and you can’t argue around that. Yes, it’s not an Overwatch “rip off” I give them that, but both games are so similar that it hurts.
    The good thing is, Paladins is for those that can’t/won’t afford Overwatch, since it’s a F2P title. Both will have it’s audience I’m sure.

  • Einherjar

    Let me be honest: Starting your explanation with “But the abilities are different” when your basic character design screams cheap knockoff.
    Next time i make a platformer with a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog and a twin tailed fox, i say its totally different because the jump height differs.

    Gameplay nuance is something people notice AFTER they played the game. If it looks like a cheap knockoff of a highly hyped game, guess what is probably not going to happen ?

  • webkilla

    when it comes to FPS games, moba games, then we have reached the point where coming up with original and never-seen-before mechanics and abilities just isn’t possible anymore.

    Everything has been done

    you can reskin characters, put on a new coat of paint, a new shader, a new setting – but a guy with a gun, a sniper, slow and tanky shotgun wielder, its all been done to death

  • Garbagio Dumpsterino

    I don’t care that it’s a rip-off… but it is a rip-off.

    I bet they’re saying that because a character in Smite had an ability like Roadhog’s (which was like Pudge from DOTA), that it came from Smite.

    I don’t mind innovation. Do what Blizzard does better. I really don’t care. Just don’t try to justify it as an original thought 😛

  • Ricolfus

    I’m sure there is plenty of differences, but when you compare Reinhardt to Fernando, I mean, come on. That is pretty much a copy paste job considering the shields are practically identical.

    You can point to the small stuff all you like, but at the end of the day, there is a LOT that is alike between the two, and it certainly doesn’t look good on Hi-Rez, regardless of if it’s the truth or a lie.

    I hope they aren’t lying, but with what I can see, it does look like they are.

  • If you look at the Reddit thread, they show pre-alpha footage of the characters. I think this is a case of convergent development. Well, mostly anyway.

  • Psyramics

    Co-founder of Hi-Rez Studios responds to allegations of copying Overwatch:
    “Yeah? What are you gonna do about?”

  • Scootinfroodie

    Claims like this always seem to assume the ideas originated with the more popular product. Everything done in Overwatch has been done in previous titles, with some cases being more blatant than others.

    This is just another riff on “Tribes Ascend just looks like another Halo game”, especially amusing in this case given that it’s based on a game from a company that got its start making not-GW RTS’

  • Bitterbear

    On the bright side, it’s not a copy of Battleborn.

  • Cosmonaut

    It’s a Hi-Rez Studio game, we know it’s going to turn into a P2W cesspit in a year or so.

  • Sarusig Musicman

    The “20 unique characters” is not a good argument against the comparison with TF2. TF2 has arguably way more characters than 9, because it has loadouts, which radically change the way characters are played. In any other game, the demoknight would be its own class, the deadringer spy would be its own class, the Hanz- I mean the huntsman sniper would be its own class, the B.A.S.E jumper soldier would be its own class, the mini-sentry Torbj- I mean engineer would be its own class, etc…

    TF2 has A LOT more gameplay options than Overwatch. And it should, I mean it’s been around for almost 10 years, that’s quite some time to iterate.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    I think they had enough time to change a few things that were going to get them nail. I think Barik is very hard to explain. Even making him not Swedish would have helped some. Otherwise I just see Torbjorn.

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    Considering how much Overwatch copied TF2, I don’t think Blizzard has room to throw stones. Which reminds me, if you can update the article to indicate just who is making the allegations, that would be helpful.

  • As far as I can tell Blizzard hasn’t thrown any stones. It seems the comedy video by dunkey really kicked things off.

  • As a GA and Tribes Beta player: feels bad, man. ;_;

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    Ok, so it’s Dunkey who started this? Good to know, thanks.

  • This isn’t particularly surprising.

    Before release an Overwatch streamer I watch/follow was playing some Paladins to cover the dark period after closed beta ended, because it seemed so similar. We were generally having fun even if the game clearly paled in comparison for all of us, but we couldn’t help pointing out the similarities between the games and – as is our usual style – we spent the time bantering about how the game should have been named ‘PovertyWatch’ since it’ll only appeal to those who can’t/won’t pay the full price for Overwatch but want something similar.

    At one point some accounts from Hi-Rez devs/employees were hopping into chat (the stream usually had 1k-2k viewers, so got their attention) and wishing the streamer well, thanking him for playing, asking his thoughts, etc. They used the same line about Global Agenda/Tribes and made the claim that the game took absolutely NO inspiration from Overwatch – it was all supposedly coincidence. When the general opinion of the chat and players in-stream became obvious they kinda quieted down. Eventually some bug or something pissed us off and we all had a “FUCK THIS GAME I CAN’T WAIT FOR OVERWATCH TO COME BACK” moment, just blowing off steam, when an account that had been identified as one of the execs said something like “If you hate it so much, we could always just take away your beta access :)”.

    Needless to say we all fucking EXPLODED at that shit, as none of us much care for the recent trend of some devs/studios acting like belligerent dickholes to their customers. Amidst our shit-fit and while in menu, the streamer’s account got hit by not only ONE temporary ban, but two… while in the menu and not actively playing. We noticed the exec’s Twitch account was still watching so we (streamer/people he was in Discord with) basically went on a tirade about it, some of the chat laughed about it ending up on Kotaku or something.

    After like 15-20 minutes the bans suddenly lifted and the exec’s account left the stream, but by then they had already alienated a couple of thousand potential players with their horseshit. Between shit like that from Hi-Rez and the anti-gamer douchebaggery from Gearbox (though Battleborn is more MOBA-meets-Borderlands than Overwatch clone, but I digress), it’s not shocking that people would rather go with the tried-and-true Blizzard game instead overpriced/cheap/F2P wannabes.

  • I wouldn’t even say that as I can’t know for certain. I think it’s fair to argue that his video popularized the issue, though.

  • Gray

    I think one way or another, it’s really unfortunate for Hi-Rez. Intentional or not, the last game you want to be competeting with is Overwatch, right now.

  • Dejan Kacurov

    Yeah, a lot of gamers are saying that Paladins is a copy of Overwatch, but as I can read here it doesn’t seems to be a copy at all