Overwatch 2 x One-Punch Man: Why One-Punch Man Works and What to Expect from Future Collabs (Exclusive)

Overwatch 2's first IP collaboration is coming in Season 3, and it's with a property few could've predicted. Blizzard is adding One-Punch Man skins to the game this next season with Doomfist leading the charge in his Saitama outfit complete with the signature red and yellow costume the overpowered One-Punch Man hero wears.

While we don't yet know who else will be getting One-Punch Man skins beyond Doomfist, ComicBook.com did speak with Overwatch 2's commercial lead and VP Jon Spector and art director Dion Rogers to learn more about the work that went into this crossover as well as how the Overwatch 2 team will approach future collabs. You can check out our full, exclusive Q&A with the developers below, and you can listen to the interview here on YouTube

CB: I think a lot of people are surprised that it's One-Punch Man to kick [these collaborations] off. So, I guess let's start there. Tell me, why One-Punch Man? Why did that fit for this first collab?

Jon Spector: So, we really started seriously looking into these types of opportunities last year as we were prepping for the launch of Overwatch 2, and as we were sort of setting out to go find the right first collab. Like, we had a couple of tests that we thought about. The first was really basic. It was like, 'Is this cool?' And that was talking to our whole team about it, but also, you know, trying to put the lens on of Overwatch players and saying like, 'Do we think our players will think this is cool?' And then beyond that, we also started thinking about like which types of shows or places that we could collab with, had an art style that felt right for the game, and where we thought the characters would be cool to bring to life in the Overwatch universe. And so, as we were talking to Bandai Namco and evaluating some of the options, One-Punch Man kind of immediately jumped to the top as just this super fun world that they've created with these great iconic characters. And we loved – I think Dion can talk more about this – even as we just started sketching out what it could look like to bring One-Punch Man to life in Overwatch, we all just got so excited that we had to do it.

Dion Rogers: Yeah, I think when we first announced it, one of the artists began sketching Saitama as Doomfist literally before the meeting was finished. So we had a lot of fans on the team. It was surprising to learn how many people on the team loved the show, and they were very excited that being our first IP collab with One-Punch Man.

And Jon, I know you mentioned last year that you were interested in these kinds of collaborations like this. When did One-Punch Man enter this conversation? Was it going to be One-Punch Man from the start, or as extension of that, was it always going to be an anime?

Jon: So, we started with a pretty broad look, and I think we got to anime really quickly because from – just again, what did we think is cool – a bunch of us love some of these shows, but then also, as we've done some of the research with our players and asked about 'What are your favorite interests outside of Overwatch?' Like, anime is at the top of that list every single time for what our players are interested in and what they think is cool. So, we zeroed in on starting there pretty quickly. The interview I think that you're referencing last year, at that time, we were not 100% on this specific thing, but we were really close. And so, we had a sense then of what we were looking to do and how this could come to life in the game. And we were really excited about it, but obviously haven't really been able to talk about it until now as we get closer to the launch.

Obviously the first skin that we have here is Saitama Doomfist. It makes perfect sense for a One-Punch Man collaboration. He looks like Saitama, but I'm interested, does the skin go deeper than that? Why Doomfist for this beyond just they both punch things?

Dion: Well, most of the characters we imagine they're cosplaying the heroes – they're fans of One-Punch. And Doomfist, you obviously, you might have heard one of his lines is 'One punch is all I need.' This is obviously an inspired line from the show. So, we see our characters as cosplay and the heroes from, One-Punch Man. So, Saitama being a perfect fit for Doomfist, especially, one of the artists immediately drew a very rough sketch of what he could potentially look like. And basically, the scale of the heroes and the scale of Saitama fits Overwatch. It feels like we needed to do something that we made sure our hero is still there. Doomfist is still there, but we're celebrating the look of Saitama in Overwatch.


I imagine with these kinds of collaborations that you're doing now there's a fine line between making them look like the characters are supposed to look like, while also maintaining clarity. You need to know that it's Doomfist or Ana, whoever, you need to know it's that person when you're coming around the corner and you find them. So, what was it like navigating that kind of balance between that?

Dion: Yeah, we did a lot of sketches. There was some that were pretty spot-on. You can feel that with Saitama. But you're right, it's collaborative. We're always working with gameplay, and we'll push it too far, pull it back, find that sweet spot so that you still recognize Doomfist, you know, how to strategize against it. His silhouette hasn't changed so greatly that you don't know what strategies you need to take in the game. And so, this is where we landed on the more cosplay aspect of the introduction of if we were to do more, that's how we would approach it in the future.

I noticed in the preview of the skin that he's carrying a bag of groceries . Is that an emote? What is that?

Dion: There are some other cosmetics related to the events that we'll dig into more, I think, later. But yeah, there's fans of the show, so we pulled things that we thought were funny or that we just remembered from the show. And  there's a scene where Saitama obviously has groceries that he takes back to his apartment. So, you'll find that's featured in this event as well.

Are voice lines a factor in this as well?

Dion: Very much.

Because Doomfist is getting this, would you consider this the main skin from the event?

Jon: Given Saitama's centrality in the One-Punch Man story, we thought that this was the best one to lead with to show players what it means to us to bring One-Punch Man to life in Overwatch 2. But we've – and I say we – the art, the other teams have done this incredible job of bringing several other characters to life too. And so, I think as we get closer to the event in March and can reveal the full lineup of what players can expect, you'll see that it's like Saitama was, we think the right skin to lead with and the right hero to show off first. But personally, I love everything else that the team has built and can't wait to be able to show more of that, too.

And if you're gonna lead with Doomfist Saitama, then that obviously means that Doomfist has to get a buff, right? 'Cause you want people to want that skin.

Jon: You should have seen the first test when we said, 'Well, he, he needs to eliminate everything with one punch.' That's a joke, just to be super clear. But yeah, there's there's this fun. I think one of the things that personally I love about the One-Punch Man series ... I've watched a fair amount of different Shonen shows. They always have the arc of the heroes getting stronger over time and they start out too weak to really impact the world, and you open in One-Punch Man with the most OP hero that's ever existed. So, I think that's always been a fun aspect of the show. It's something I've liked as a fan. But obviously in the Overwatch universe, it's the team's job to keep things feeling balanced. So I, I think Doom Fest, uh, killing everyone with one punch would not make for great gameplay.

And we joke about the balance, but seriously, I know that Doomfist is not the most popular hero, not the most popular tank. Do win rates and pick rates factor into this conversation at all?

Jon: You mean in terms of, like how we're thinking about the skins and the collab?

Like you said, you're leading with the Doomfist skin, but Doomfist is not the most popular hero. Is that a conversation that ever took place while you guys were talking about this?

Dion: No, it has to be Doomfist Saitama.

Jon: Yeah. For us, this was like very creatively led the whole way of 'We have this amazing opportunity to work with One-Punch Man. What are the coolest things that we can do to bring that to life?' And, and so I think Saitama is an amazing example of that. But yeah, there was never a 'Hey, we need to figure out how to get, you know, the most popular hero in this.' That's not one of the criteria we looked at.

And Dion, going back to what we talked about before about balancing the looks. I know you said that you wanted them to look like they were cosplaying the heroes, basically. Would you say that was the most important part of the design of these characters? Or if not, what do you think was most important to get right about these?

Dion: I think the most important part was to celebrate both IPs. You know, we wanna make sure Overwatch is still there, but we're collaborating with a different partner, we wanna make sure they're satisfied with the result too. So, we had a close relationship with the anime group and finding that right balance. And so, the end balance ultimately resulted in the cosplay perception, but we believe we captured – you can see in the picture behind you – we picked out what's those key colors that make Saitama who he is, you know, whole red that he wears, where would that be placed on our Overwatch hero? So, it was a delicate balance of, satisfying both. You know, there's no point if it's too cheap of a costume, and there's no point if we lose, Doomfist in the process. So, that's kind of how we approached it. It took quite a few drawings to find a sweet spot, but once we did it, it just felt like the whole team was just like, 'yes, let's do this.'

And can you speak at all about the distribution plans for these skins and these cosmetics? Obviously Overwatch 2 has a battle pass system now. Will these show up in the shop, are they gonna be in the battle pass, or a mix of those?

Jon: So, we're planning to put the skins generally in the shop when we're running the event, and then we've picked out one of the legendary skins for the event and made that the reward for the challenges during the One-Punch Man event. So that all of the players have the ability to go in and earn one of the major skins from the collab, and then the others will be available in the shop.

Some other games, sometimes they'll put it as a level 100 reward in the battle pass, something like that. Why not put it in the battle pass?

Jon: We have in Season 3 – I think this will come out soon. As we're showing off more of Season 3 – like One-Punch Man for us is an event within this season, but it's not like the seasonal theme. And so, we have a different kind of Asian mythology and Asian goddesses and gods theme, for Season 3 cosmetics more broadly. Like our mythic skin is along that line and is in the battle pass, and there are a couple of other skins in that way too.

Have game modes entered the conversation with this at all? Is a One-Punch Man game mode on the table?

Dion: We're trying a bunch of things. You just ... maybe stay tuned.

Speaking broadly about these sorts of crossovers, why is this sort of thing even necessary? What does it bring to Overwatch 2?

Dion: It's actually something creatively – especially the art team – we've been wanting to do for a long time. You might have remembered the LEGO Bastion collab that we did a long time ago for Overwatch 1. And so, we've always wanted to get back to that, but it still was important to the team [to see] what felt right, what was the team excited by, especially the art team, 'cause this would be a creative-driven thing. So, obviously the Overwatch scene, there's a lot of anime fans and, we've been thinking about what would fit and Overwatch, and then the opportunity for One-Punch came up and the team just jumped at it. But, you know, the game was big, and we kept going. We kept trying to figure out what's next. And it's actually really exciting to finally do this. This is something we've been itching as an art team to do for a long time. And so, it just felt like this is the right time to do it together.

Jon: And we've also just heard a lot from our players that this is the type of thing that they're interested in seeing. And so, because this is the first time that we're really doing something on this scale, we also sort of look at it as just an opportunity to try something that we think is really cool and to see how our players respond to it, right? Like we hope and we expect that people will see the collab and the awesome work that the team did to bring it to life and feel really excited about it. But we're also gonna be closely listening to our players and understanding what they like or don't about this. And this is the type of thing that we would like to do more of in the future, but we also really wanna see how this first one goes and make sure that we have a chance to learn from that too.

Dion, you specifically mentioned the LEGO Bastion skin, and I know that there are some in-house collaborations with different Blizzard games. Are those kinds of things still on the table or moving forward? Does every crossover need to be something One-Punch Man scale, or can we expect smaller drops along the way?

Dion: Oh, we love our own games too. It's super fun to do the internal like, Diablo skin or StarCraft skin. So yeah, we'd definitely love to do more of those.

Jon: Yeah, I'd say for where we're at now – like this is the first time that we're really trying something of this scale as you noted. We've done the LEGO skin, we've done other Blizzard IP in the Overwatch universe before. So, this really for us is kind of a starting point. And our hope is that we'll do more things like this, maybe some things that are smaller scale as well. But in every instance, it's sort of a 'do we think this is cool and do we expect our players will?' And, you know, does it feel as we're sketching things out, this fits well within the Overwatch universe. So as long as I think we can stick to those principles, there's probably a bunch of cool stuff that we can do over time, and the team is interested in looking at.

I'm glad you mentioned Diablo, Diablo 4 is coming up. Has that entered any of the conversations at all?

Dion: I would love to, but we haven't talked much about it.

With this first type of IP collab, you two both realize you've opened the door to another kind of request. Instead of people saying buff or nerf Genji, now they're gonna be on Twitter asking 'Why aren't we doing this collab next? I want this next.' Have you prepared for those kinds of responses? And how do you plan on factoring those kinds of suggestions into your equation when it comes to figuring out things like this?

Jon: The last time that I talked about this topic at all before we launched the game, I just ... the only thing I said was, 'Hey, this is something we might be interested in doing.' My Twitter mentions were full for a very long time with, you know, everyone's favorite anime show or other types of ideas. Because that first principle for us is, 'Do we think our players are gonna like this?' it is something where we will take a look at how players engage with the different challenges and the event more broadly and go out and look to gather feedback from our community team and others. I expect this as part of that process. Yeah, our players are gonna be all trying to bring to life or suggest other cool ideas.

And that's something that I think is amazing about the Overwatch community. Like this is such a talented and creative and passionate group of players that, even before we announce One-Punch Man, we've seen tons of just fun fan art or other inspired ideas. So, we have to be really careful, right, as a process point that whenever we're creating something like this, we're doing all of that ourselves and maintaining all of the creative authorship and everything else in order to bring something to the game. But we love how passionate and excited our players are about things like this. And yeah, I absolutely expect that when we announce this, there's gonna be a ton of excitement, and there's also gonna be a ton of like, 'Well, why not this show instead?' Or other things like that too.

Dion: Since it's our first one now, the team is, they're interested now. It was really fun to make this one. And so now, I can see the interest on the team of, 'Okay, let's explore some other areas if we can,' you know? So, I think it ... especially seeing the response from the players will ... I'd love to do more if we can.

I think some people probably would say – maybe Overwatch purists will say – they want Overwatch to just be Overwatch. Maybe they're not as big on collabs like this 'cause they're worried about what it might lead to in the future. Having all these … I don't want to say 'cartoony skins,' but not their heroes that they're familiar with. Have you anticipated that kind of response as well?

Jon: I think that's one of the reasons why, aside from, you know, everything else that Dion's talked about, why, at least from my perspective, I loved where the art team and the designers landed in terms of how we brought these characters to life in Overwatch 2. It's, still Doomfist, and it's not that now all of a sudden in Overwatch 2, instead of playing Doomfist the tank, you can play Saitama flying around killing everything in one punch. And it looks like Doomfist. It's still Doomfist in your games. I don't expect every player to love what we've done here. Our players are not a monolith. They all have different opinions and things that they're excited about and not excited about. But I would hope that for those players who were sort of concerned about not wanting a massive proliferation of 'not Overwatch heroes' all over the game, I would hope that they see the approach that we've taken here and that it reassures them that this is Doomfist and he's cosplaying as Saitama and it still plays and looks like Doomfist.

And how frequently do you see these sorts of things happening? Do we need one every season, or do you think that would kind of dull the anticipation for it?

Jon: I'd say at this point, we're not sure. This is an opportunity for us to learn and understand 'How much do players love this?' We're not imminently planning a second one. Like, there's not another Season 4 major collab coming up, for example. But we do have a bunch of different ongoing conversations for us, things we're excited about potentially bringing to life. And so, at least my own perspective is, I think we need to wait and see a little bit of how this first one goes. And I don't wanna say that we know what the right answer is yet. I don't think we do. I think we're going to experiment with different things, see what works and sticks. But I love what we've been able to do here, and personally, I'd really be excited about being able to do more of this and to do it relatively frequently. But, you know, never to the point where every week you're booting up Overwatch 2 and there's a new set of characters that's come in. I think there's very clearly some point at which you've gone too far there.


Overwatch 2's One-Punch Man event begins on March 7th.