Blizzard Entertainment’s first foray outside of its proprietary Battle.net launcher has been met with a torrential downpour of criticism as Overwatch 2, released on Steam last week, became the lowest scoring game on the platform. With over 140,000 reviews that Steam aptly describes as “Overwhelmingly Negative”, the game has seemingly stumbled upon one of the most egregious quagmires in recent gaming history.
The negativity is not purely rooted in gamers’ experience with the first-person shooter, but has been amplified by a wave of meme-driven commentary and ASCII art. Game director Aaron Keller, in a blog post, appeared undeterred by the feedback, noting, “although being review-bombed isn’t a fun experience, it’s been great to see lots of new players jump into Overwatch 2 for the first time.”
Whirlwind of backlashes might stem from the cancellation of a substantial Player versus Environment (PvE) feature that was announced back in 2019. Keller acknowledged this, stating, “Many of the reviews on Steam mention the cancellation of the much larger component of PvE […] That announcement was about an ambitious project that we ultimately couldn’t deliver.”
Despite the onslaught of negative reviews, Overwatch 2 has managed to achieve substantial traction, boasting daily peaks of around 50,000 players on Steam. The free-to-play game even managed to clinch the seventh spot for Steam’s top sellers, primarily driven by purchases of its premium battle pass and the $15 PvE mission pack. However, its sales momentum seems to be dwindling, as it hovers around the Steam’s 63rd place.
The negative stir surrounding the game has sparked a wave of support for its developers through a Twitter campaign aptly hashtagged #OWDevAppreciation2023. Overwatch developers and fans alike have joined the cause, sharing personal anecdotes and clips related to the game.
Fans are currently engaging with Overwatch 2’s sixth season, titled Invasion, which includes a new PvP mode, a new support hero, and intriguing story missions. However, this new content seems unable to eclipse the void left by the deferred major PvE element.
While the brunt of criticism and disapproval has surfaced from the English-speaking gamer community, Asian markets’ sentiment towards Overwatch 2 has been equally, if not more, disparaging, particularly among Chinese players. They attribute their key grievance to Blizzard’s poor handling of game infrastructure within their locality.
In light of the backlash, Keller remains optimistic, reaffirming the commitment to continually refine and enhance Overwatch 2. “We can keep adding to and improving Overwatch 2. That is how we move forward […] an ever-expanding, evolving, and improving game,” he expressed.
Despite the rocky reception, only time will help discern if Overwatch 2 can rise from the ashes of its controversial debut to fulfil its creative and commercial potential.
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