Players of Blizzard's multiplayer shooter Overwatch are on the hunt for clues about a rumored and much-hyped new character called Sombra. Blizzard is orchestrating the whole thing, dropping cryptic hints — we're talking Mayan numeral-level cryptic — about Sombra in various corners of the internet, even in single frames of videos.
If you ask someone at Blizzard about this alternate reality game directly, they'll say something coy, like "Sombra will let people know when she wants more to be known about her," which is what Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan told Kotaku.
Fans expected Sombra's reveal Tuesday — but something even more unexpected and confounding took place.
So, what happened in the Sombra ARG?
Tuesday night was a big deal in the Sombra ARG, because Sombra was expected to disrupt the unveiling of a big nuclear power through a high-profile hack on LumériCo's website. At one point, over 13,000 people were watching the live Reddit thread to witness players solve the ARG's clues in real time. Disappointingly, Sombra was not revealed.
But then, over on the Overwatch Discord channel — which is used as one of the hubs for crowdsourcing ARG solutions — players started seeing a different version of the page, as though Sombra herself had hacked it.
Here's what it looked like:
According to what people were discussing the Reddit thread, it seems that typing the command "./assist" in the #firewall channel was helping Sombra hack LumériCo.
Additionally, the space on the right of the page, where its admins and moderators are usually listed, was instead populated by the names of LumériCo employees.
According to one user, whose chat is embedded below, these employees would respond to direct messages with, "Actualmente estamos investigando este problema, le pedimos disculpas por este inconveniente," which translates to, "We are investigating the problem at the moment; we apologize for the inconvenience."
But things didn't really go according to plan after that.
Soon after Reddit user sinebiryan posted in the live Reddit thread that something strange was happening in the Discord, many started reporting they couldn't access the page at all. It seems that the sudden, massive load of players trying to access the channel crashed it entirely.
At this point, there was a bit of confusion as to what happened to the Discord, and whether what was happening on the Discord was actually a part of the ARG. Maybe the moderators were being cheeky.
Once the Overwatch Discord recovered, new messages showed up from the Discord chat moderators. They said the whole Sombra "hack" had been an event orchestrated with Blizzard officials, and it was meant to live alongside the actual ARG as a fun bonus event.
The chats have since been deleted.
If you can't read the screenshot pasted above, here's what it says:
Hey guys, unfortunately things didn't go as planned. Originally we intended for SOMBRA to hack into LumeriCo using the power of our users to help. Unfortunately the server load was maxed out quickly and we weren't able to handle the traffic.
The admins on the Discord channel are staying tight-lipped about what the eventual plan was for the mini ARG, but they say there will be an official announcement of some kind on its channel soon.
More information is expected to be revealed about Sombra at BlizzCon in a few days. Hopefully the Overwatch website is ready for the traffic load.