A February 3 blog post from Overwatch 2's developers confirmed that Blizzard will be removing map pools from the game Season 4 onwards. It was mentioned that maps leaving and returning to the title did not align with the time they needed to make necessary improvements.
While the game has provided a unique selection of maps every season so far, it will no longer follow the same rules from Season 4. This means that all of them will be available to play in queues. This might be major news for the community, but the developers had something in mind before making their decision.
No more map pools from Overwatch 2 Season 4
Game Director for Overwatch 2, Aaron Keller posted an article on the official Blizzard blog page, where it was suggested that the existing map pool would go away Season 4 onwards for a variety of reasons. In the post, Keller said:
"We aimed to provide a bit of freshness each season and concentrate the number of maps that people were playing, however player sentiment around map pools was pretty low, the map roster doesn’t have enough maps where we truly need them."
He then stated that the impact the current map roster system had on the seasons was not enough. The post also shed some light on the development process of Overwatch 2, as it confirmed that maps randomly leave and enter the pool, making it harder for developers to make changes to them.
A perfect example of this that was included in the article involved Gibralter. This map was supposed to return in Season 4, yet the process of testing and making improvements to it inspired doubts in Overwatch developers' minds regarding when they'd be able to re-release it.
This suggests that removing map pools offers more options to the game's creators when it comes to actively picking content to improve and tweak. Keller also mentioned the possibility of such pools returning, saying:
"There’s the possibility that we bring map pools back in the far future when we have a lot more maps in the game."
He added that if map pools were to return, they would rotate at a much faster rate and even on a weekly basis.
How will removing map pools affect the Overwatch 2 community?
A new pool per season undoubtedly keeps the map roaster in the title fresh. But the community has complained about this, as there are not enough maps to put them on a specific roster.
If developers choose to stick to this decision and completely remove map pools, a part of the community will definitely be happy, as every single option will be available for queuing.
However, this could affect the development process quite a bit as it will be significantly harder for Blizzard to make sudden tweaks and changes to maps that need reworking.