As of yesterday, Blizzard updated Overwatch to include new Summer Games content, so that they can have an unofficial tie in to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. They promised over ninety new items to be unlocked, but there are a few catches – you cannot buy them with currency but instead through unlocking or buying Loot Boxes, it is time locked, and the items will be unobtainable after the event is over. Let me just write about how I am not too pleased, for a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, the items not being obtainable with credits means that you have to hope that you can get a good skin through the random Loot Boxes. This negates earned credits entirely; if a player has stockpiled ten thousand credits after buying loot boxes or many hours of play, it does not matter, but instead a Loot Box slog is their so-called reward. With Blizzard undermining their credit system, they might as well be worthless when recontextualized into this new event.
To be fair, these Loot Boxes promise at least one themed item per box, but the boxes can also drop duplicates. When Loot Boxes, the only source of Summer Games items, can give you duplicates, it becomes obvious that getting every single themed item is pretty much impossible if the Loot Boxes offer up decent luck, or, worst case scenario, the same few items keep popping up every few levels. That does not take into account the super low drop rates of Rare and Legendary items – it is fine when these items are available to purchase with credits, but when coupled with the aforementioned restrictions, it becomes evident that many hours will have to be poured in for any chance at these skins.
When the items are only available for two weeks, however, it ascends from a time sink into a death warrant. Fantastic luck would be wholly required to get anywhere close to nabbing nearly every single item in the event in just a fortnight. Besides, the notion of putting out new skins and then retracting them is absolutely silly, as this new content helps to bolster the game. The exclusivity helps no one out, so why do it? It absolutely boggles the mind as for why that would be a good idea.
In the last three paragraphs, I have stated how players would need to put in tons of time just to see potentially diminishing returns. To that, it could be stated that, ‘a solution would be to just buy Loot Boxes with real money and hope for the best! Fifty Loot Boxes are only forty pounds, so why not, right? It is not a time sink at all…’, which raises more concerning issues than what has been touched on already. In my initial review, I lambasted how shameful it is on Blizzard’s end to implement additional transactions into a game that needs to be purchased first. However, at least when I wrote that down, items could still be bought for credits. This item locking behind Loot Boxes is certainly much more dubious, as buying them is an easy shortcut that is unfeasible without additional payment. Essentially, you take the long hard way, or just eventually cut through it with gambling.
Solutions are easy to come up with for this. If just one of these caveats were removed, preferably the time lock, it would be absolutely beneficial for everybody involved, and severely cut down on the pay to win mentality. That mentality could be removed entirely if credits could pay for Loot Boxes, too, which would negate another major problem. As it stands, however, this does not instill a lot of faith in me about the trajectory of Overwatch. It is a frantic and constantly fun first person shooter, as I stated in my review, but locking off cosmetic items in this way has no benefits in any capacity. I hope Blizzard proves me completely wrong. After all, they have proven themselves multiple times before.