The constant shouting from a vocal minority of players mad about Overwatch DLC prices is tiresome, bad faith, and toxic to us all.
The famous quote goes that “There's no such thing as bad publicity, as long as they spell your name right." And while there's no proof that famed circus con artist P.T. Barnum said this, it's also a dubious statement. Take, for example, the press headlines received by Overwatch 2 in the past year, in relation to its skin prices and skin releases. "Fans are outraged," "Blizzard should bring loot boxes back," and "how dare they sell skins for money" all lead the charge.
And you know what? I'm exhausted. Tired, even. Even though the adage goes that sex and negative press sell, Overwatch 2 and its developers don't deserve anywhere near the amount of constant criticism the game receives. Especially when other games in the free-to-play space are just as willing to overcharge its audience, if not do worse.
Apparently there is no making good or amends when it comes to atonement of past sins. At least when it comes to gamers and their precious cosmetic items.
Overwatch skins prices - a controversy
Overwatch has been a target for the internet's vitriol for awhile now. Honestly, it feels like a complete 180 from the early days when it was a darling, garnering Game of the Year nominations and constant buzz. However, time progresses and things change. And with it came a major change to Overwatch. The swap to free-to-play was both a seeming knee-jerk reaction to the hype around VALORANT but also indicative of a developer in turmoil.
In that time period, Overwatch was lost at sea. New content essentially came to a complete halt. Only a few new characters and maps got released in a few years. More to the point, the game's balance had became a nightmare. The 'GOATS' meta of non-stop shields and Support Ultimates strangled the game to death.
But change was on the way. Along with a complete gameplay overhaul, Overwatch 2 also ditched the predatory and, frankly, awful loot box system that was at the core of Overwatch DLC microtransactions. The casino-style system of paying real money for random loot was especially bad during the game's lauded holidays and special events. It was fairly common to never see a single limited-release Legendary skin because the loot box gods failed to shine upon thee.
Overwatch 2 was a brand new day. Of course, the commiserating from the internet's most vocal minority of haters--and the journalism outlets that mine them for content--began immediately.
"We miss loot boxes," and other disingenuousness
The early seasons of Overwatch 2 came with a lot of commiserating about its skins pricing. The game features a premium, weekly rotating store and a seasonal battle pass. You know, like other games, such as Fortnite, VALORANT, PUBG, Rocket League, Dead by Daylight, Genshin Impact, Fall Guys, Apex Legends, Brawlhalla, Halo Infinite, Rainbow 6: Siege, Team Fortress 2, and literally every mobile game in existence.
Honestly, the list is exhausting.
And yet, it was Overwatch 2's battle pass and DLC practices that gained the ire of players and rage-farming headlines. A thing that continues to this day, which is strange given that the Overwatch battle pass is no better or worse than most. An early complaint was that it was a "pay to win" system because new Heroes were locked in the battle pass.
This argument ignores that the new Heroes were always earnable without buying the premium pass. More to the point, it's a similar system to that of the game's most direct competitor, VALORANT. Riot's game allows players to grind out 'contracts' for each new Agent, eventually earning access. Or, pay ten bucks and get going right away.
Weird, I don't think I've ever seen any headlines about that. I might have missed it.
Honestly, the Overwatch battle pass is a fantastic deal, and one that Blizzard has been cognisant of when it comes to criticism. In fact, the developer's transparency with the game, its issues, and what they're doing has never been better. It's a far cry from the days of 2019 when 'Papa Jeff' Kaplan would deign to grace us with his words once every seven months.
But let's go back to those VALORANT comparisons. Because that's where I get most chuffed.
A blind eye towards VALORANT
"Oh no, I need that" was something I often found myself saying when logging into VALORANT. Having played since the game's closed beta, the culture and loop of the game is very much centered on its gun skins. Ranging from basic to outlandishly wonderful, the looks for your weapons is one of the casual draws for the game.
And, hey: I'm not immune. You bet that I immediately bought that $99 USD Zedd weapon skin collab two years ago, purely because the spray played music. After all, why not? I'm an adult with expendable income playing a free-to-play game that asks for nothing from me to enter its halls. I'm a big proponent of the "digital tip jar" train of thought when it comes to microtransactions.
Game companies deserve to make money--excellent work should be paid for.
But I've never seen the amount of ire for VALORANT's extreme MTX costs compared to the scorn heaped on the Overwatch DLC prices. The Overwatch subreddit is filled each week with complaints from its Stockholm Syndrome-like fanbase. Complaints on skin prices are common, including the most recent Diablo IV-Moira crossover.
How dare Blizzard sell the event's best skin for money, in a bundle that came with the battle pass and premium currency. Oh, the horror.
The boy cried "50 dollar knife"
And then we have Riot over here releasing weapon skin bundles once a month that, at minimum cost a little over $49 USD. Oh, but don't worry, if you just want the knife skin for that bundle it will only cost you $25 USD. For a single knife skin--a weapon you shouldn't ever have out unless you're a complete jerk.
Riot's DLC prices seem extreme in comparison--especially things like League of Legends' chroma skins, which go for increasingly high amounts. Even so with these prices, if you look at the VALORANT top Reddit posts for the past month there's not a single mention of high prices, gouging, or anything else.
Part of the complaint about prices towards Overwatch has been credited to its switch from a paid release to free-to-play. To that, I say: Get over it already. Overwatch came out for $60 in 2016 and was on sale in various forms until 2021.
The ship has sailed and you are not beholden to constant new, free content forever simply because you paid once upon a time.
The path forward for Overwatch skins
Even after all that I've talked about, I do think there's work to be done. Skins pricing, even for Overwatch, are too high across the board. However, that is because there are still folks always willing and ready to pay the price. The heart wants what the heart wants, after all. And it's a misnomer to say that Overwatch is failing or that people aren't buying that Moira bundle. On Steam alone, Overwatch was in the top ten globally for revenue.
And that's just Steam. It's obviously a vocal minority complaining about the game. But that doesn't mean the fish need to bite, if you know what I mean. I truly believe that the Overwatch developers are doing their best and attempting to do right by their players.
The past year has seen the best content and updates in the game's history. Moreover, the constant communication on changes and the future is a breath of fresh air.
Don't let that get lost in the buzzing noise of bad-faith headlines and some folks mad that free-to-play doesn't mean what they think it should mean.
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