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.
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!