For a good portion of the past year, I’ve been playing Overwatch 2. This is a competitive, team-based video game where you select a character, have some objective that you are working toward, and then shoot, kill and die your way toward a victory or loss. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it.
Unlike most shooters that are more grounded in real-life stuff, this one has many characters – each with what amounts to powers – and there’s this whole Pixar flair that tries to keep the mood lighter than your standard military shooters. Matches last about 10-15 minutes.
The game released in 2016 and was officially one of the only bright points of that year. And check out the marketing videos we received for the game.
As a competitive shooty-shooty game, you are always playing against other humans. This is what we call PvP (Player vs. Player). But alongside the game’s maturation as a shooter, developers promised that we would start to see new Player vs. Environment (PvE) game modes.
These are of particular interest to me because I find that PvE contests tend to be less fraught with the intensity of PvP matches. Some of us that were maybe starting to lose interest in PvP would stick around for the promise of this new game mode.
The Point of the “2”
So the game was going to receive proper PvE updates and so Blizzard slapped a ‘2’ on the game.
Only, as we got closer to the launch of Overwatch 2, we learned that PvE was going to come later… So why add the 2 at all? So far, the main innovation of the new sequel was that it had an improved storefront to sell us virtual stuff. Woohoo.
Not so much the, uh, game.
That’s not true. They did reduce the size of teams from 6 to 5. This required significant map reworks. And it had the effect of every single person being absolutely crucial and adding a touch more intensity to matches.
Worse, about a week after Overwatch 2 went live, Blizzard knew that they would, in fact, not be adding PvE. They would then fail to tell the user community anything about this for about a year and a half. Within that time, they would rack up plenty of sales to Battle Passes and other cosmetic items while smiling politely at our questions of ‘when is PvE coming’.
But all of this isn’t what actually killed my interest, though. I was willing to put up with less than what I really wanted because, honestly, I loved the people I was playing with. I play games with the Gamers with Jobs community. So, most of the time, I was in a voice-channel with four other people and we would cooperate in matches and have an absolute blast.
They were never, ever the problem. It was always the faceless others in the community. And it was usually bearable. Only occasionally would I have to deal with really bad attitudes. But since the news that PvE is cancelled, Overwatch 2 is shedding players at an alarming rate. And you start to see it reflected in your games.
People who have enough experience with games (read as: I Am An Old Gamer), have seen over and over. It happens with dying games. First: The playerbase starts to dwindle. This has the immediate effect of making Blizzard’s matchmaking algorithm work harder. This is because there is an overall smaller pool of players from which to draw from. This means that, from time to time, the matchmaking is sub-optimal and you are either over or under matched.
Furthermore, with the playerbase shrinking, this leaving a higher proportion of the most die-hard players. These are the people who, conincidentally, more likely to be Gigantic Assholes. To the point where I have had opponents regularly berate me for not providing a good enough challenge.
And this is what has happened. With increasing frequency. And now I’m done.
It’s a damn shame, of course. I love the people I was playing with. And I’m hoping to play another game with some of them, but I suspect that until there’s an Overwatch-killer that lives up to the original promise, I may not talk to many of them too often.
Blizzard Entertainment – the company behind this game and others I have loved before they were destroyed – has watched its stock price slalom downhill, too. The CEO – Robert Kotick (I refuse to call him “Bobby”, like he’s some wacky neighbor child) – made $155 million last year. The history of scandal that has followed this living pustule is legendary in gaming circles.
This asshole famously said that he wanted to “take the fun out of making video games”. Well, he can declare Mission Accomplished. He also stripped the fun out of playing video games. But at least he obliterated tons of jobs, devalued their intellectual property, and the company’s value, so he could enrich himself.
VIDEO GAMES ARE FUN!