Overwatch 2 has had some trouble in the past year-and-a-bit since its release—between promised PvE content being absent, an outright admission that the game has been in decline, and a ‘colourful’ reception on Steam, the game’s freemium model has been a point of contention—especially for players who bought Overwatch 1 fully-priced.
A recent controversy has made that sentiment worse, with players responding to the bitter fact that they wouldn’t be able to earn every cosmetic in the Winter Fair event even if they went for the premium option—things worsened after executive producer Jared Neuss responded to a player in a post on X, where he wrote: “It’s $5 for 4 Legendary skins”—though some of them are recolours of past skins—”which feels squarely in the spirit of the Holidays to me.”
(Image credit: X)
The event (which went live yesterday) gives you tickets for every nine games you play (though wins count as two towards that number). The issue lies in how those tickets are distributed and their weekly cap—which isn’t enough to get you everything tickets can buy. Unless you shell out for the shop bundle, of course, which—aw man, wait a minute. That’s $30.
Granted, that $5 for 4 offer is technically generous—but with a big, snowflake-shaped asterisk at the end of the word ‘technically’. While you might be getting better value for your money than usual, FOMO is a powerful sales pitch—and there’s no avoiding the fact that, if you want absolutely everything, you’ll need to pay something more like $35.
In a recent interview about the controversy on the Group Up! Podcast, hosted by Twitch channel SVB, Neuss remarks: “I’ll be totally honest, the response has kind of surprised me.
“It’s totally understandable when you break it down like that,” he adds: “What we wanted was for players to have more choice … the goal here was: ‘what if an event had a similar structure to what we had today, but you could pick the thing you got at the end?'” While the event offers a similar amount of rewards to other seasonal events, Neuss admits that the team was “misguided” in its framing.
It’s a rake that’s easy to step on—framing is so important. I’m reminded of that old story about World of Warcraft’s rested experience, which was initially a penalty—players hated it, but when it was framed as a bonus it became a beloved feature that’s pretty much an MMO standard to this day. Even though none of the numbers really changed.
Similarly, the idea of providing more choice than before is good on paper, but presenting that as currency with an arbitrary weekly cap feels downright stingy. Even though—like rested XP—the end result is the exact same. Neuss also brings up the idea that a linear pass that forces you to grind everything out just to get the one item you want isn’t ideal, either.
“The way that we framed it was like: we put it all out there, you can’t get everything, so people were frustrated … you get a lot of feedback [before and after] people experience a thing. Sometimes that feedback is the same, sometimes it’s not.” He does mention that said feedback is helpful for the team going forward, at the very least.
“I still do think the model is generous—you’re able to get like, four skins for five bucks, that’s way better than you could do normally—but we have to listen to what’s unique about the Overwatch community.”