The first Overwatch game that released in 2016 was amazing! It captured the hearts and minds of countless gamers. I distinctly remember the thrilling excitement that led up to its public launch. Countless gameplay trailers, animated/cinematic shorts, and video game developer interviews fostered this intense hype for the game that has barely been scratched since. Then the game launched, and it was some of the most fun I have ever had. Many late nights were spent with the boys pushing the payload to victory on Hanamura. I absolutely loved my time with the game; however, I slowly grew distant from the game. Me and my friends moved onto other titles and Overwatch – once a global phenomenon – started to drift farther and farther away from the peak it sat upon within the online video game ecosystem.
Moreover, competition with more appealing live service models like Fortnite and Apex Legends quickly surpassed Overwatch. These games were free to play with a battle pass whereas Overwatch was a full purchase with the despised Loot Box System. All in all, Overwatch felt like it was on life support with newer and fresher titles just doing what Overwatch initially encapsulated better.
Finally, the most important reason I will not play Overwatch 2 is stemming from the toxic workplace that Overwatch developer Activision Blizzard has garnered and the terrible way they treat women.
Last year, massive reports indicated that Activision Blizzard were being “sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over a “frat boy” workplace culture that it alleges has led to years of harassment and abuse targeting the women in its workforce” (Plunkett, 2021). According to lawsuit women at the office were “subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation.” (Allsup, 2021)
Activision Blizzard being one of the biggest developers in gaming have done massive harm to a hostile gaming industry that already suffers from immense sexism and misogyny; however, game developers are supposed to set an example and encourage better behaviour. Yet the workplace at Activision Blizzard actively fostered this terrible behaviour. Disgusting is all I have to say.
All this leads up to where we are today. Activision Blizzard made the first Overwatch game unavailable leaving only its sequel to carry the reigns. But how could anyone call this a sequel? All that seems different to me is that they made slight UI changes and updated the shop from Loot Boxes to the modern Battle Pass system. Yet even that is scummy since as its being reported on, the insane grind that free to play players would have to accomplish serves to alienate them into just giving in and buying the battle pass so that they can feel rewarded. (Colbert, 2022) Before concluding, it’s important to acknowledge that new maps, heroes, and gameplay features have been added to Overwatch 2, but that does not justify this cash grab of a sequel. These types of updates are made constantly to any live service game whether threw patches, seasonal updates, or expansions. Activision Blizzard merely repackaged the original game to make more sales and incorporate their new battle pass monetization system.
Overwatch as a franchise appeals to me greatly. I love the colourful and expressive characters, and I’m fascinated by the futuristic world that the story has fleshed out. However, the unethical decisions made my Activision Blizzard, compounded by the terrible treatment women endure at their studios has dissuade me from ever wanting to play this game. It’s a damn shame too, since I loved Overwatch and would have undoubtedly enjoyed their sequel. The developers may be morally bankrupt, but I sure as hell am not.
Allsup, M. (2021). Activision Blizzard Sued Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Harassment (1). Bloomberg Law. Retrieved from Activision Blizzard Sued Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Harassment (1) (bloomberglaw.com)
Colbert, I. (2022). Overwatch 2’s Free-To-Play Grind And Battle Pass System Has Players Wanting Loot Boxes Back. Kotaku. Retrieved from Overwatch 2’s Battle Pass Has Players Wanting Loot Boxes Back (kotaku.com)
Plunkett, L. (2021). Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over Widespread Harassment Of Women. Kotaku. Retrieved from Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over Harassment Of Women (kotaku.com)