Why you shouldn’t support Overwatch 2 | column

Anyone have a code left?

Written by Marcel Vroegrijk on Saturday 02 July 2022 09:24

I’d love to read a comprehensive post mortem on Overwatch 2 in a year or so. Yes, you read that right: post mortem. Now I don’t expect the sequel to the once revolutionary hero shooter to die an early death, but my goodness, Activision Blizzard won’t have it. The publisher seems to be doing everything it can to kill any glimmer of hope or enthusiasm for part two.

In theory, I’m pretty much looking forward to Overwatch 2’s unofficial release on October 4 after years of delay, albeit in some sort of early access and without the promising (and much-promised) PvE portion. There’s no other first-person shooter I’ve played for so absurdly long and often. I’ve been Overwatching on and off since 2016, so you’d say a successor is very welcome. Especially because the current Overwatch has been on its ass for years, because all the attention goes to part two.

That dried up stream of content in itself is reason enough not to look forward to the sequel, but so be it. The pandemic, the horrific revelations about the work culture within Activision Blizzard and the departure of some of the Blizzard leaders, including Overwatch creator Jeff Kaplanlogically caused the necessary delay.

Been going for years too stories about mis- and micromanagement from Overwatch by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick himself. He is said to have repeatedly interfered with the game’s revenue model during development and is also reportedly responsible for the tunnel vision on eSports of recent years. That while at the unveiling in 2019 the emphasis was really on the cooperative maps, in which you compete with other players against computer-controlled opponents. That is quite at odds with how Overwatch 2 is now being marketed: a polished and modified version of what Overwatch already offers. In fact, it’s so bad that they’re already playing Overwatch 2 in the Overwatch League, even though the game isn’t out and about yet.

Now, of course, I don’t know what exactly happened within the walls of (Activision) Blizzard. Still, it’s not a very strange idea that somewhere a decisive decision was made in favor of shareholders, and to the detriment of fans who hoped for more depth to the story and the characters that make Overwatch so appealing. And so it happens that part two this fall when free-to-play game appearswith a Battle Pass system and (yet) no PvE.

I don’t even mind that much. It’s a logical choice in today’s gaming climate and loot boxes are past their prime. But it hurts that Overwatch 2 seems to be becoming what the first Overwatch should have been for ages. It hurts that changes like this are being held hostage to the once-made promise of an official sequel and not rolled out years ago, when there was still a vibrant community.

Which brings me to this week’s sad developments. On Tuesday, the second closed beta of Overwatch 2 began, this time also for Xbox and PlayStation. I duly registered, but have not been given access to date. An optimist would say that they must have had a ton of signups and are busy scaling up the amount of available servers incrementally to test whether they can handle a large number of players. But the cynic in me sees a dirty game.

Activision Blizzard offers a kind of starter pack for Overwatch 2 for 40 euros, which not entirely coincidentally contains a code for the beta that is now going on. If everyone who has signed up for this test period gets access almost immediately, then of course nobody will buy this package. Because why would you? There’s some virtual currency in there for part two when the game comes out in October, some ‘rare’ skins and you get the Legendary Edition of Overwatch with it. Yes, you read that right too. So you mainly pay 40 euros for access to a test version of a game that becomes free to play. Or you pay this amount for a digital copy of a game that has been out since 2016 and disappears forever when the sequel comes out.

I don’t know which reading I find worse, but they’re both outrageous. The Overwatch website still says very nicely that Blizzard will try to give access to everyone who signed up for the beta by July 14 at the latest, but that is four days before the end of the test. If you have so much patience and mastery that you haven’t bought the Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack before then, you can probably wait until October. Activision Blizzard can’t make money from those kinds of people.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll check my mail and a code for the beta beckons. In that case, you won’t hear me complain anymore. Then I’ll be too busy staring at Ana’s gorgeous new design. But more likely the scenario is that I will give up within now and a day. 40 euros and my credibility in exchange for a code. But even then I won’t be happy. Because when the beta is over, how can I ever go back to the current Overwatch? With two tanks, two dps and zero support.

Editor’s note: Not even half a day after submitting his column, Marcel bought the Watchpoint Pack in exchange for 40 euros and his soul. He says that the opinions in the above column should no longer be considered relevant or credible and that Overwatch 2 is everything he could have ever dreamed of. Until Ana gets her inevitable nerf, at least. In consultation it was decided to post the original text after all.