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What’s Going On With Overwatch 2?

New free-to-play games must put their best foot forward to compete with the big boys. Overwatch 2 is simply not doing that.


A good friend of mine is a huge Blizzard fan, but had managed to miss Overwatch. He is exactly the target audience for a free-to-play re-release. Remove the barrier of entry and he had downloaded it within minutes.

And yet his experience so far has been so poor as to put him off completely. When he is in a game, he is enjoying it. But the process of getting there is so painful that he has almost packed it in.

Take a look at the Overwatch 2 Subreddit, and you’ll see this isn’t a unique experience. There are pages and pages of complaints, problems and niggles.

So how do you get something so good, so wrong?

Returning to Overwatch

Because Overwatch really is something very good. I’d fight anybody who says otherwise. The characters, the feel, the gameplay – it’s like nothing else out there. And other companies have tried to replicate it.

I should reiterate: few of the complaints are about the base game itself. Sure, it’s a bit weird that the sequel feels more like a re-release. Overwatch is already a close-to-perfect game.

I mean once you take out all the frustrating additions, obviously.

And even many of those were added with a purpose. The frustrating waiting was added because every single person wanted to be Widowmaker or Hanzo. That Call of Duty spirit – where it doesn’t matter how well the game goes so long as you have positive K/D – is alive and well in Overwatch. Man, I wish they’d have found a more elegant solution to fixing that.

The problem of players “only” buying the game and then playing it for the rest of its existence is one I have some sympathy with. But not very much. And so the season pass solution is one that I struggle to understand. I appreciate some like it. I do not.

This was my biggest barrier in hitting download on Overwatch 2. That, along with the fact I’d just technically lost a game. Overwatch was bought and paid for. Now it’s a splash screen and a request to download Overwatch 2.

Beyond Their Control

Personal preferences are a hell of a thing. And there will be a lot of people who dislike free-to-play – like me – who dislike these changes by default. And that’s okay.

But there’s more than that going on. Dig a little deeper into that Subreddit link above, and you’ll see other issues. Each time an achievement is earned on Xbox, you’re kicked from the game. Some are struggling with spectating. A minor issue compared to those who can’t get into the game at all.

None of these are direct fault of the developers. A QA team, with all the best will in the world, cannot give as much time over a year as a million players will give a game one hour after launch. That’s just basic maths.

But it hits back at that main question: just what is happening here? Overwatch is big enough and respected enough that it isn’t just going to disappear. But, equally, when even the biggest Blizzard fans are bouncing off it, it’s a sign that things need to change.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott