I Wish I Could Get Past Overwatch 2’s Monetization And Enjoy The Game But I Can’t

I hate Overwatch 2’s free-to-play model, so much so that it has ruined the game for me. As much as I love the actual gameplay, I can't help but feel like I'm being taken advantage of every time I play it. I know cosmetics are optional, and I'm fully aware that lots of games have similar monetization, and that some are even worse than Overwatch. But what Blizzard has done with Overwatch 2 is an insult to everyone that paid for the first game, and a slap in the face to everyone that loved it.

Without an ounce of hyperbole, I can say that Overwatch changed my life. I hadn't played many games in the years leading up to the release of Overwatch, but the cinematic reveal trailer, starring the now infamous punch kid – caught my attention. I played the closed beta on a demo laptop at the Best Buy I was working at, and I knew right away I was going to be obsessed. Logging back into my old Battle.net account when Overwatch launched led to me reconnecting with my college roommate and making a whole bunch of new friends too. We played Overwatch almost every night for nearly two years, logging thousands of hours and building relationships with people that I now considered to be my best friends. Now I write about video games for a living, which I don’t think would have ever happened if not for Overwatch. I have a very personal relationship with this game, and when I talk to other players, many of them do too.

I was at Blizzcon 2019 when Overwatch 2 was announced, and I was just as confused as everyone else. I got to play a demo of the unreleased co-op story mode, but it was difficult to get a clear picture of what Overwatch 2 actually was. We knew all of the maps, characters, and cosmetics would carry over from the first game, but it didn’t really seem like there was a strong justification for a full sequel to such a popular and modern live-service game. Now we know exactly why Overwatch 2 exists – Blizzards needed to add some zeroes to its bottom line. And while you can justifiably make that claim about just about any game that exists, Overwatch 2 makes no effort to hide the fact that it’s a cash grab.

Overwatch 2 is not a sequel, but rather a glorified transition to a free-to-play model. And while I am generally positive on the gameplay changes – the new game modes, the character reworks, and even the switch to 5v5 – the only thing that meaningfully separates Overwatch from Overwatch 2 is its monetization. More specifically, Overwatch 2, despite being free-to-play, costs more and is less rewarding than the original Overwatch.

The more you played Overwatch, the more cosmetics you would earn. Though rewards came in the form of controversial loot boxes, there was always a constant stream of new skins, poses, and icons to unlock. When I was most active in the game, I never had a problem getting everything I wanted during a seasonal event, and I never felt bad about buying $20 or $30 worth of loot boxes every once in a while just to make the grind a little more exciting. My friend group would end every session with a shared loot box opening and excitedly announce anytime a legendary skin popped out. The game felt rewarding to play back then, and I never felt pressured to spend money.

Overwatch 2 does not reward you for playing the game. You can grind through a battle pass, but the free track is extraordinarily limited, and the paid track pales in comparison to the amount of rewards you could get in the same amount of time in the old Overwatch. Worst of all there’s no source of generic currency for buying specific cosmetics you want. It would take years to earn enough credits through the small pittance you get for completing weekly challenges, but of course, you can spend real money to buy as many credits as you want. Skins that could be earned before now cost $20 each. The sense of progression and reward is completely gone. Worst of all, the game I bought is gone too. Blizzard took a paid game and deleted it from existence, then replaced it with this cash shop masquerading as a new game.

I wish this stuff didn’t matter to me. Overwatch 2 is still a lot of fun and I had a good time getting back into it with my friends, but every time I launch the game I just feel like a mark. I don’t want to support Overwatch 2 or communicate to Blizzard that it’s okay to do this kind of thing, so I just don’t play the game at all. This is how you betray and alienate fans, and it’s such a shame to see a game that means so much to me become a symbol of corporate greed. I hope Blizzard’s shareholders got that short-term performance boost they were expecting, because this kind of shit is going to ruin gaming.

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