What you need to know
- Overwatch 2 received its first seasonal event today in the form of Halloween Terror.
- Players are not happy about the rewards — or rather lack of them — in comparison to previous Overwatch events.
- Twitter and Reddit are awash with indignation and memes over the two new paid skins as some fans pine for the return of loot boxes.
Fans of Overwatch 2 were excited for the arrival of it’s first seasonal event today in the form of Halloween Terror. Junkenstein is back with a new co-op mission ‘Wrath of the Bride’. However, the festivities are being overshadowed by growing disappointment from the fanbase over the rewards on offer in the event, which runs from October 25 to November 9.
Why the anger?
To put things in perspective, if you played the Halloween Terror event in 2021 and completed the required game modes over the three weeks, you could have earned three Epic skins for Genji, Zarya, and Roadhog — and in addition, some sprays and new icons. All entirely free with the game. On top of this, five new Legendary Halloween skins were added to the loot pool, which were thoroughly earnable through casual play. So what is Blizzard offering the player base in its first event as part of its free-to-play Overwatch 2 update? Two new skins, which will cost $40 to collect.
The image above shared on Reddit is representative of the mood over on socials about the state of Overwatch 2 monetization. Players are feeling less and less like they can play to earn rewards, and must simply pay for them. Loot boxes have long been the subject of much controversy and even outlawed in some countries due to gambling regulations, but increasingly, some fans are realizing that Overwatch was one of the few games that weren’t so exploitative with the model. I can’t help but agree with the sentiment that this new free-to-play model feels unrewarding, and I spent a hell of a lot of hours in Overwatch both earning and paying for loot boxes.
$40 for two skins that potentially could have been earned in previous years by completing some arcade-mode games feels like a steep and unfair price to pay. The exception to this is that you can earn an old Winston Werewolf skin, but you will need to watch a Twitch streamer for four-hours to earn it. This now-removed Reddit post displays perfectly the value we used to expect from $40 of our hard-earned cash:
While the Halloween event has shed more spotlight than ever on Overwatch 2’s unrewarding monetization system, this isn’t a new issue. The steep pricing model has been under scrutiny from players since Overwatch 2’s launch on October 4. One fan in particular calculated that to collect all the cosmetics from the previous game, you would need at least $10,000 to drop on the game. While the RNG element of loot boxes has been removed, I question why Blizzard needs to price their individual skins at such a high price point.
A legendary skin will cost you 1,900 Overwatch coins (equal to $19), and while you can earn these coins for free, they are capped at 60 per week. In contrast, while loot boxes were random in their loot allocation, they could be earned for free by completing weekly challenges or receiving player endorsements — and in fact, if duplicates were received, you were rewarded with coins to easily save towards the skin you were coveting.
does anyone else kinda miss loot boxes lmao#overwatch2 pic.twitter.com/WW0Ew06iPkOctober 25, 2022
Loot boxes can indeed be predatory and prey on people with addictive tendencies, but Overwatch always felt like it struck the perfect balance between encouraging you to play to earn loot boxes or simply having the option to pay a reasonable sum to buy them. The removal of loot boxes completely from Overwatch feels like needlessly burning down the house to smoke out the rat.
What we are left with is a fun and free-to-play game, but one that lacks any tangible sense of progression for returning to play on a regular basis. The Halloween event runs for three weeks, and there is no real incentive or rush to get on and play in those three weeks, as the best rewards on offer can simply be obtained by dropping a cool 40 bucks on day one. Reddit is awash with thread titles such as “This is not an event, it’s just a shop refresh” and “I’d rather pay $30 to play the game and have the old reward system back.”
What is the solution?
We’re not armed with financial data for Overwatch, but we do know what feels good in gaming and what does not. The current system feels flat. A sizable portion of the player base argues that the original loot box system in Overwatch was balanced, fair, and rewarding — and I can only agree with them that the model we have moved to is not the answer.
And sure, free-to-play games with dedicated servers need to be monetized, but I can’t help but think Blizzard could make even more money if it opted for fairer pricing on its cosmetics. Many nations are embroiled in a cost-of-living crisis, and at least for me, dropping $20 on digital skin feels frivolous and irresponsible. $5 to $7 for a skin, however? I may bite, and a lot more people probably would.
Alternatively, it wouldn’t hurt to make the battle pass actually rewarding. Free-to-play is obviously a great way to bring more players into a game they previously would never have tried it, but if you’re stumping up the cash for the battle pass, you should have actual worthwhile rewards to work towards for grinding up those levels. Voice lines and sprays just don’t cut it for many, least of all me, and the high bar for unlockable heroes feels unfair to those with less free time and less disposable income. Blizzard has hollowed out Overwatch’s in-game progression, and the game feels worse for it.
I only hope that Blizzard takes the feedback from the fan base seriously with their first seasonal event, and by Christmas, we have less of a Scrooge offering, but time will only tell.
Overwatch 2 is available now for free on Xbox Series X|S, PS5, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.