Overwatch 2 Pass Still Doesn’t Sit Right
Like all good addicts, I’m still knee-deep into my return to Overwatch 2. That’s giving me a long time to consider the battle pass, and just how much it takes out of the game.
So why is the monetization so bloody bad? The battle pass takes a key part of the first game, and holds it hostage. The old costumes are overpriced and inaccessible. This doesn’t feel acceptable.
“It’s Only Cosmetic”
Imagine if you got to the end of a fight in Final Fantasy and the rewards were behind a paywall. Take a look at this list from Potions 5E and you’ll see the impact that would have.
Here’s the thing: on the surface the system in Overwatch 2 might seem fair. You’re not blocked from using those potions. You’re just blocked from some nice costumes.
I’m probably guilty – in my more than decade-long stint writing about games – of saying cosmetic DLC is optional and therefore just fine. But this takes it to the nth degree in a way that makes me uncomfortable.
Pay to win has traditionally meant being able to purchase something that gives you an edge over other players. If you can buy a magic sword that gives you extra damage against others, then that’s really not on.
But that’s a really literal translation of that. In a game where winning used to get you prizes and now doesn’t, it feels like something has changed.
It is just cosmetic, but you’re still paying for the prizes. In fact, they’re not even prizes anymore. A new cool costume used to be a sign that you’d played during a certain period of time. Probably a lot, maybe not.
Now it’s a sign you’ve opened your wallet.
Overwatch: So What’s the Solution?
There needs to be a middle ground. And I’m sure that there is.
Lootboxes are controversial and rightly so. But they’re missed by the Overwatch community because at least you had a chance of winning something cool. It wasn’t always a big chance, but it was a chance. There was a sense of progression.
The important thing is to bring back that sense of progression. The battle pass doesn’t fully replace that. You still have to work through it, but it’s a guarantee. If you pay this much and put this much time into it, then you will get all of the items. It’s like paying off your Christmas turkey in instalments and having a party when it arrives. That’s not progress – it’s purchasing with extra steps.
I’ve seen suggestions that maybe lootboxes should make a return in a limited way. This seems like a fair middle ground. You can’t buy them, but you can unlock them. You have the chance to get older items, but at some level that makes it a reward.
The issue is that a lot of those older costumes now have specific costs. They’re not giving you a costume, they’re giving you $20. Hell, if you’re really lucky, a lootbox could be worth double that, or more.
Blizzard just isn’t going to do that, regardless of the $0.0001 value that each digital costume actual holds.
A relatively solid compromise – and this might be controversial in itself – would be to ultimately include the battle pass in Game Pass. PlayStation players would be up in arms, and rightly so. But it feels like a solid mid-ground for many players.
I don’t fully know what the solution to this problem is. But one thing is for certain: Overwatch needs fixing in this regard. Sooner rather than later.