There’s a bit of a conspiracy theory that developers of many a competitive game release new characters (or weapons/whatever) in a very powerful state to help sell them. Do you think there’s any truth to that?

There is some truth to it, but it is a notably incomplete truth. It is true that new offerings are often nearer to the higher end of the power curve when released. This is by design, an underpowered new offering is easy for players to ignore and we don't waste resources making post-launch content nobody wants. We want players to keep playing the game and that's only going to happen if the content we add, both paid and free, is compelling.

This leads us to the rest of the truth I was talking about before - the actual goal of adding new content isn't making new stuff strictly stronger than older stuff, it's to offer a new and interesting way to play the game for our players. The new offering is never strictly a power boost over existing options. Instead, it generally fills a new niche or playstyle for players to explore. You can see this most clearly in competitive games where we add a new player character or class. Overtuned or not, new characters and classes always play notably differently than existing ones, thus appealing to different groups in the player base.

Any new offerings must offer enough new gameplay, player power, and appeal to interest and engage enough of our community. If the gameplay is amazing and the appeal is great but the offering is underpowered, nobody will be happy with the result. We try to avoid overtuning new offerings to the point that the new content invalidates other gameplay styles and pressures competitive players to switch since that hurts the overall community, but we also want to avoid undertuning new offerings to the point that no one cares about the new thing. Finding a healthy power band in which to launch new content is part of the goal.

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