Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Opinion

The Overwatch 2 monetization system feels like a blatant scam

Overwatch 2 going free-to-play was always going to come with some monumental hurdles, particularly for players of the original game who had grown used to the previous way of doing things. But even so, there’s something about the Overwatch 2 monetization system that doesn’t just feel like a scam, but feels blatantly scummy.

It’s been a few weeks now since Overwatch 2 launched, and I’ve had plenty of time to play and see what’s what about Activision Blizzard’s ‘remade’ hero-shooter. Is it any good? Yeah, it is. Is it finished? Hell no, there’s still a lot of work to be done. What’s the incentive to play if the game hasn’t included anything different outside of gameplay-changes? Uh, yes, about that.

I’ve been playing almost non-stop for no reason outside of ‘my friends are playing this game and I want to talk to them’. That’s at least a good 20-30 hours. Have I earned anything outside of the battle pass that actively makes playing it worth it? Well, I’ve earned a few sprays, an icon, a header or two, but apart from that… Nope! It is a wasteland out here, and for what reason? Because Activision Blizzard want to make money out of their skins, and people earning them simply by playing? That doesn’t sound like good business at all.

Let me explain for those of you who have been blessed not to play Overwatch 2 just yet. Previously the game (back when it was just called Overwatch) allowed players to earn skins, voice lines, emotes, sprays, and what have you, through the use of loot boxes. The way you earned these boxes was through a little thing called ‘playing the game’. Once you levelled up, you earned yourself a loot box. When opening the loot box, you would get a handful of cosmetic items. Some would be repeats, which was very annoying, but they at least earned you coins that you could use to buy other stuff in the shop. It wasn’t a perfect system at all, loot boxes are so far from being good and healthy that they’ve been outright banned in some countries, but it allowed players to feel like they’ve worked hard to get something out of it. A little treat, because don’t we deserve it?

In Overwatch 2 however, you can play day after day, hours upon hours, and you’ll be lucky to get an emote for a character you don’t play thanks to the free track in the battle pass. Activision Blizzard wants your money, and they want it now.

As salty as I may appear – I’ve got enough salt to feed you all at least 20 Overwatch Happy Meals – the new changes towards how players gain cosmetics hasn’t gone unnoticed by players and content creators. This week’s Halloween event should have been met with open arms, a new slice of the Halloween story and some cool skins? Sign us up! But head on over to the Overwatch Reddit or have a look at Twitter, and you’ll see that people are more frustrated than overjoyed.

“I used to always look forward for the events, even when I lost interest in Overwatch I would always come back to earn the event loot boxes. The odds of winning a event legendary skin was reasonable enough to make grinding for them fun and rewarding.” One user explained on the hero-shooter’s subreddit. “Today I came back when I heard the Halloween event started and was disappointed to find out that I would have to pay up to unlock any of the Halloween skins. Without the motivation of earning the event loot boxes the new game modes get repetitive and boring pretty quickly.”

Image Source: Overwatch 2

It gets even worse when you realize that not only do you need to purchase the skins, but the amount to purchase them all costs well over $800. And say you don’t want to spend that much, if you just want a new skin for fan-favourite Kiriko, then even that’s too much because you won’t be able to buy just the skin. You’ll have to purchase the entire bundle instead. And how much does that bundle cost? Well, because coin packs don’t give you the exact amount you need, you’ll be asked for around £20/$30, if not a little more. There’s no other way to get it. That, to me, feels like a blatant push from Blizzard to frustrate you enough that you have no other choice but to the buy the skin, because let’s be honest, there is no other way for you to get it, is there?

Now I understand the answer from some gamers will be a simple: this is what everyone does now. And technically yes, you’d be correct. Every live-service game has a battle pass: Halo, Apex Legends, Fortnite, and even Dead by Daylight. This is nothing new and “picking on Overwatch 2 for this is unfair”. But even if this isn’t new, Overwatch 2 pushes it to such new, scummy levels of predatory that people are actively begging for loot boxes to come back just so they can actually feel as though they are earning something by playing. Loot boxes! How? Just how?

And, ugh, to use a phrase that I bloody well hate, ‘let me play devil’s advocate’ for a second. If we’re to be ‘content’ with how live-service games use money to bleed us dry, the games I’ve mentioned above at least give you a way to earn cosmetics. It may be a piss-take to earn scrap or iridescent shards that you get in Apex Legends and Dead by Daylight, but it’s still a system that makes playing feel like I’m working towards something. It, outside of my friend circle, keeps me playing. In Overwatch 2 you get 30 measly credits and not even the battle pass gives you any more to keep you playing – it just wants you to purchase each and every pass, no matter what.

To put it bluntly: the monetization system in Overwatch 2 makes me want to set myself on fire. It’s scummy and completely screws over new players, and is leagues behind older live-service games. It isn’t a good look, and while I don’t expect that there will be a change because this is Activision Blizzard, I can only hope that something will happen because this? This sucks.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart is Editor-in-Chief of Gayming Magazine. She specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.