Overwatch (PS4)

Overwatch: Origins Edition_20160525141546

Exuberant and charming, Overwatch’s appearance creates a lure toward its team-based gunplay. Were the timing different, it would appear Blizzard created Overwatch with the intent of murdering Battleborn’s confused aesthetic.

In Blizzard’s realm, character quips and attitudes serve as geekdom catharsis. The plucky girl blows her hair out of her eyes. The cybernetic ninja glints his electronic eye. The bow-and-arrow toting samurai blurts Japanese as if from an SNK fighting game. Overwatch marries the enthusiasm of pop culture and sports jock aggression.

Overwatch tells of a world which rejected its heroes – the Overwatch – even though supervillains – Talon – still exist. How interesting; consider if Gotham brushed aside Batman even though Joker still ran free. That’s Overwatch’s hook. Yet, it’s thrown away after the initial storytelling. Blizzard’s lore doesn’t penetrate into Overwatch. Instead, these heroes battle one another, in tandem with their enemies, to ensure a car reaches a goal in objective-based matches. Lines between villain and hero don’t exist. The inclusive roster all stand as heroic. This world isn’t being saved, it’s being wasted by an online competitive shooter – albeit one with spunk – with an aimless addiction to arbitrary unlockables.

In industry context, between Blizzard/Overwatch and EA/Star Wars: Battlefront, there exists a visible corporate favoritism. EA’s Star Wars hinges on corporate dollars to recreate an already in-place universe; Blizzard’s world shows an affluence of creativity. The preference is clear. Wide player dissent concerning Battlefront’s selection of seven gameplay modes left buyers distraught. Overwatch has one, but has earned the pass.

Blizzard supports their products for their consumers; EA expected their products to be supported by consumers. The perception (right or wrong) is key, a grand lesson in how to build ambivalence toward the dollars and cents of continuing monetary streams.

Psychology changes between studios, creating a bubble of hypocrisy. Blizzard’s microtransactions aren’t bland online storefronts, rather shiny chests which adorably wiggle and bounce when activated. They burst paid content from their overthrown lids. EA carves out dry sections of the home menu, their storefront selling $15 content still a year away. One is cold and calculated. The other feels welcoming. How easy it is to steer people in your direction with a bit of decoration.


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