Like many of you, I enjoyed Overwatch, a video game that I purchased with human money. In fact, because I thought Overwatch would continue to exist, I bought it on more than one platform. I’m not right in the head sometimes, so I actually believed that by purchasing a video game on a physical disc, I would get to play it for a while. I figured I had years to enjoy being a D-level Mercy failing to heal teammates who lowkey hated me.
But, you might be thinking, “Sure, Blizzard may be making it impossible to enjoy the game you bought while forcing you to play a different game – but can’t you still be Mercy in Overwatch 2?” And the answer is, “Yes, but who gives a shit?” Oh, goodness! What a fucking deal! If I paid money for the original Overwatch, I get the courtesy of unlocking all the characters I already paid for? Talk about a good value! Thank you, Blizzard, sir! Thank you! What is going on here? Why is this cool with us?
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind that there’s an Overwatch 2. Hell, I don’t even give a shit that it’s a free-to-play nightmare that’s going to be dominated by kids with rich parents. I work in show business – the entire world is dominated by kids with rich parents. And I respect that in order to keep their esports racket fresh, Blizzard creates new Overwatch content just like how their professional players create new racial slurs.
But by essentially disabling the first Overwatch, Blizzard is fucking over people who paid money for the game. It doesn’t matter if they get free content for owning the first game – it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t still play original content you specifically paid for. I don’t care if Overwatch 2 is bigger and badder than ever before! When I buy a game, I’d love to be able to play that game. And if you’re shutting down a game’s online capabilities, at least be honest about it. Don’t talk like you’re doing people some grand favor.
Just because a sequel exists doesn’t mean I don’t want to play the original. When Warcraft 3 came out, I didn’t want Warcraft 2 erased from existence – even if Warcraft 3 had more content. When I play Smash Bros. Ultimate, I don’t wish Nintendo would break every copy of Smash Bros. Melee with their bare hands. Let me repeat that: even when a new game contains all or most of the content of a previous game, that doesn’t mean the previous game should have a bullet put in the back of its head. Especially if there are fundamental differences in the way games play out. Smash. Bros Ultimate may have the content of Melee, but the two feel different.
You might think this is apples and oranges. You had to buy both Warcraft 2 and 3, just like you had to buy Smash Bros. Ultimate and Melee. Meanwhile, Overwatch 2 is free. You’re basically getting a new game for the price of only one game! Except, again, that doesn’t mean I only want the new game and never want to see the old one again.
There’s no reason to sunset Overwatch before Overwatch 2. I get if we’re eight years down the line and Blizzard is like, “Hey, folks. Had a good run. But nobody’s using these servers and we need them for all the HR reports Bobby Kotick has buried.” But by killing Overwatch, Blizzard is saying, “We already got your money, so you’ll play the new game or nothing at all.”
Overwatch wasn’t a failure. The servers didn’t need to go down. Blizzard has the cash available. If they can pay their nightmare marshmallow CEO millions in salary, stocks, and employee hush money, they can keep servers up. There’s no reason to insta-kill the original outside of shaking down fans.
It’s the same corporate avarice that led us to Stadia, only Google was far more incompetent with how they sold it. Fortunately, Google has more money than there are gods in the heavens; they can (mostly) pay people back for the company’s mistake. But remember Stadia wasn’t a live game that just didn’t take off. It was an entire platform that didn’t take off. A platform that Google promised would stay online for the foreseeable future. And, like Blizzard, Google could also afford the servers.
Even when (mostly) paying people back for their purchases on Stadia, Google is still showing it barely cares about its users. Not every game will allow saves to transfer. Hell, some games specifically designed for Stadia are now in limbo. Quick reminder – the people on the ground making these games are often creative folks who just want to bring something nice to the world. I’m not criticizing the engineers who made Stadia work or the artists and designers who make Overwatch look and play brilliantly. They deserve praise and probably better pay. Which, again, is funny considering these are all greedy companies sucking in dollar bills.
No, Blizzard and Google aren’t required to keep their services online. No, this isn’t the first time a major corporation has opened a trap door under a game and made it disappear forever. And, yes, Google refunding people is a pleasant surprise. But in both cases, these are broken promises to fans who paid for something. Overwatch was hugely successful. Stadia was made by a company so large it’s nearly impossible to not use their services in one form or another. These aren’t broke kids – they’re not even Square Enix spinning out because one of their best-written, critically-acclaimed games didn’t do Final Fantasy numbers.
Overwatch getting shuttered and Stadia getting taken behind a woodshed isn’t the apocalypse. Most titles on Stadia already exist elsewhere and Overwatch 2 appears to be a real video game. This isn’t the end of all things. You can be excited about Overwatch 2 while still admitting it’s a crappy way to treat fans. The suits at Blizzard and Google (I know it’s “Alphabet” or whatever now, but come the fuck on) don’t care about you. Maybe that’s a cliche, but it’s worth remembering because it’s going to only happen more as the “take the money and run” strategy plays out. They’ll promise and swear that your purchase will be good and playable for the foreseeable future and then take that shit away the moment it’s convenient.
Also, I’m done healing you motherfuckers. You never protected Mercy.
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