Overwatch 2 releasing in early October 2022 attracted millions of players, and one of the biggest gameplay differences from its predecessor is the removal of loot boxes to earn cosmetics. While this is certainly a step forward, the monetization strategies that Activision Blizzard is using in its place are arguably just as exploitative and greedy as loot boxes have ever been. The Battle Pass that has been introduced in its place is clogged with useless trinkets, leading to players feeling frustrated and unrewarded for putting time into the game.
A main reason for the removal of loot boxes is to avoid potential legal battles around the world. Loot boxes are now outlawed by many countries, so gaming companies have had to come up with creative solutions to ensure that their games are still profitable. Despite Overwatch being the game that coined the term “loot box,” the sequel had no choice but to abandon this system. Mario Kart Tour has also recently abandoned its gacha mechanics, indicating that the industry as a whole is moving away from this practice to comply with those new laws.
With Overwatch 2 becoming free to play like Fall Guys and Fortnite, it has also adapted the Battle Pass and rotating shops that those games have. Despite being free-to-play unlike its predecessor, there was controversy about Overwatch 2‘s beta being another cash grab, as it was locked behind a paywall. Mythic skins are also new to the game, and are a level above Legendary skins from the first game. The main benefit of these skins is that they are customizable, allowing players to alter their color schemes and particle effects. Genji’s Mythic skin is the first one to be released, and is a reward for completing all tiers of the Battle Pass; it may not be the most expensive skin, but the time commitment is just as costly.
Overwatch 2’s Battle Pass Doesn’t Reward Players
Drawing more outrage than the switch to a Battle Pass system is the price of the cosmetics. All cosmetics from the first Overwatch will cost over $12,000 total. One seasonal Legendary skin will cost players 1,900 Overwatch Coins, which is roughly equivalent to $19. Although this does guarantee that players get that specific skin, it is unreasonably expensive. Thankfully, it is not as expensive as new drivers in Mario Kart Tour costing a staggering $70, but it is still an unreasonable fee for a single cosmetic item.
Overwatch 2 has also made a troubling development in the removal of its predecessor’s player level system. XP instead goes towards the seasonal Battle Pass. Instead of receiving four random items from loot boxes every level, players instead receive a single item per Battle Pass tier. These items are predetermined, meaning fans of certain characters could be disappointed that they are not featured, or only gain something small. Many of the items in the Battle Pass are also borderline useless, like name tags and weapon charms, so progressing through the tiers is unrewarding. This shows again that Activision Blizzard doesn’t understand fans of Overwatch and what they want. Mario Kart Tour has actually kept its gacha mechanics as free rewards, something that Overwatch 2 could have done as well.
It is clear that industry attitudes towards monetization have had to accommodate changes in the law. However, the way in which companies have adjusted their practices is still harmful for consumers. Outrage about the costs of Overwatch 2 should indicate that many players are unhappy with these plans. As long as it is making them enough money, it is unlikely that Activision Blizzard are going to reconsider their monetization strategy for the game.
Next: Everything Coming To Overwatch 2’s First Seasons
Editor’s Note: A lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its female employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. The full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) are being updated as new information becomes available.