Follow the money, Overwatch edition

I have a bunch of unopened lootboxes:
loot

It’s not some protest against vanity, I simply got skins, emotes, voices, highlight poses for all the heroes I play with (Mercy, Bastion, Symmetra, Torbjörn). The lootboxes contain 4 out of about 3000 cosmetic things, which means duplicates happen. This case you get credits that you can use to buy the stuff you want directly, instead of having to wait for RNG forever. On the one hand this is a good feature to avoid player frustration or rigging claims.

However this means that after only a few lootboxes you can buy your favorites and be done with cosmetics, having no reason to bother with the boxes anymore. Which is a problem for Blizzard, since after the initial game purchase, their income depends on lootbox purchases. You get lootboxes for playing, about one per hour, or you can buy them in the cash shop. However if you are playing with only a few heroes, you have no reason to buy anything, instead your free lootboxes will start to pile up.

This means that Blizzard is financially interested in making players play many heroes, as each hero you play is a reason to use cosmetics which is a reason to buy lootboxes. The best way to make people play many heroes is to force them by teammates. The moron who demands you to not play your 50+ hours main, but play Reinhardt despite you never did, is the best marketeer for Blizzard. If you play Reinhardt, you might buy something for him. Please note that the game – unlike League of Legends – was designed in a way to allow hero switch during match and doesn’t have any bans, exactly to make people play more heroes.

What nasty things Blizzard do to make people play more heroes? At first they have no guilds/clans. World of Warcraft – another Blizzard game – has guilds for more than a decade, I doubt if it was too much to ask for Overwatch. However WoW raiding guilds recruit roles (“looking for resto shaman and combat rogue”) because they realized the obvious that a fitting team works better. Ergo, Overwatch guilds would function the same, having shield tank, non-shield tank, melee, flanker, sniper and healer roles. A player recruited as shield tank would play two or max 3 champions and wouldn’t be asked to play healer or sniper. By not adding guilds, players are doomed to play with randoms as friends rarely fill the roster, being “asked” to fill into different roles.

The other nasty trick of Blizzard is not having scoreboard. I’m stating the obvious that anyone picking a champion with less than X hours experience is throwing the game, even if the champion is a good counter of the enemy or fits the team. A 11 min Reinhardt is less help to a team that needs a shield tank than a 50 hours Widowmaker. The lack of scoreboard hides the fact that the noob Reinhardt has miniscule damage blocked, miniscule damage and lots of deaths, while that “not teamplayer” Hanzo who “throws” has highest damage, highest eliminations and barely any deaths. This way the blame goes to those who don’t switch, even if the game is lost because of those who did. The noob Reinhardt will get praise and might buy some Reinhardt skin. Since the lack of scoreboard increases toxicity (always the bad players go toxic and we can’t silence them by pointing out their fail), Blizzard purposefully increased toxicity to increase swapping.

This means that my project is probably doomed because whatever I come up with is directly against the wishes of Blizzard who will surely do something about it.

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Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

11 thoughts on “Follow the money, Overwatch edition”

  1. Guilds seem like an odd feature for a shooter game, I don’t blame them for skipping out. I think DOTA2 actually implemented a proper guild feature and it was forgotten about weeks after launch. When Solo que is a viable and competitive option I don’t think guilds have much place.

    I don’t doubt your second point, the lack of a scoreboard seems intentionally malicious to the game. Surely they feel that they gain something for it despite all shooting games since forever have had scoreboards. Even some of the arcade modes have legitimate scoreboards, they just have no intention of using the feature in the ‘main’ game mode.

    Still, I think their primary means of selling lootboxes is the seasonal events that allow currency-rich players to have the same chance for loot as time-rich players. The relatively short events include tons of items, and those items are 3x the price of non-event items, getting all the items from an event would require hundreds of hours spent in-game. The current ‘retribution’ event would cost a new player ~42,000 in-game coins to obtain all the items. You can use this site to see how much items cost for an entire event: https://js41637.github.io/Overwatch-Item-Tracker/#/

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  2. You love getting a big head Gevlon )
    Your project needs to get big enough to be a threat to Blizzard, first. Also, at this point i can’t quite imagine what they can really do about it (aside from directly harming gameplay of individual champions for indivudal maps, and they won’t do that), so what they come up with is interesting in itself.

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  3. Incidentally, would you say that any methods that stimulate people towards playing multiple champions are automatically nasty, or is it fair to say that a developer of a game with multiple playstyles incorporating various things to encourage multiple playstyles is a completely valid thing to do?

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  4. “This means that my project is probably doomed because whatever I come up with is directly against the wishes of Blizzard who will surely do something about it.”

    It would be interesting if you would do it until Blizzard does something, because then it would be the second time they did some change exactly because of you.

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  5. @Gevlon
    ??? So what do you think they can do to fight your genius strategy to encourage players to play their favourite champions in chat? I mean, they can remove chat, i guess??? If Blizz removed chat from Overwatch because of you, that’d be a total hoot 😀

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  6. Blizzard’s reply to one-trick players is that they are best off grouping with their friends. The lack of pseudo-friend structures is an anti-nudge to discourage this behaviour.
    Scoreboards are generally toxicity-creators since people put their individual score above the team result. Toxicity is not a tool that Blizzard want to deliberately employ because it pushes players away from their games.
    My anti-toxic fix would be to remove the player level from the team character select screen and replace it with a character level number (total XP/proportion of time on that hero). That would force toxic switch-enforcers to face the fact that they are trying to turn a L100 Widowmaker into a L1 Reinhardt and apply some pressure on them to switch instead.

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  7. @Maxim: I have no idea, for example limit the amount of cosmetic XP you can gain per champion (after 20 hours you get half XP, after 40 hours you get none) and rig the RNG to never give skins of your favorite champion. They are resourceful little creatures.

    @Dobablo: while it’s possible to artificially inflate your score at the expense of win (for example if everyone is farming kills and ignore the objective), but generally the two at least correlate. Also, your rating gain is affected by your individual performance, so they aren’t that scared of that.

    Blizzard doesn’t want toxicity. But it rather have toxicity than one-tricking. That’s why they wouldn’t implement your obvious suggestion. They don’t want a lvl 100 Widowmaker, they want a L1 Reinhardt because that sells the lootbox.

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  8. Duplicates don’t happen. Blizzard removed that a while ago. There are generic credit rewards that pop up every so often, but the chance to get those does not change as you get more regular items. (Well, until you’ve gotten every single item, but that’s an edge case.)

    I think you’re reading too much into things here. I think most people just like playing several heroes, and like collecting items for most of the heroes.

    Another counterpoint is the reward for competitive points. A “golden gun” incentivizes you to get the weapon for your main hero you pay.

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