Overwatch, I love you but I hate your free to play systems in what is essentially a full price AAA title. Free to play games make you jump through hoops to get rewards, or if you dislike the hoops and the grind you reach for that credit card. In Overwatch you already paid the full price for the game, so you aren’t grinding to unlock heroes, or buy maps or something like that. No, your grinding is for amazing cosmetics items, from emotes to new skins to being able to tell your enemies to get off of your lawn.
While some would argue that “but Garth, they are only cosmetic items, why are you getting worked up about them?” I have to disagree. Many people put a lot of value on cosmetic items, just ask anyone who makes sure their transmogrified appearance in World of Warcraft is on point. Ask anyone who spent money on a Compendium or Battle Pass in Dota 2 about how important cosmetic items are to them. Your favourite character in a flashy new skin? An announcer pack using your favourite voice actor whisper in your ear about the state of the game? These things are important to people. So important to some that every event makes them anxious about the amount of money they need to spend or the time required to play to unlock loot boxes. In fact, some clever people have worked out you need oh, 12 hours a day for the Anniversary event, or 50,000 in game credits if you want to buy everything. That is one event. This is the most expensive event in Overwatch’s history and a problem that the game has had for a long time is being viewed in cold, hard light. Here are a few things the team over at Blizzard might want to look at doing with lootboxes in Overwatch if they want happy fans.
Quests for currency / specific items
Okay Blizzard, you want to treat Overwatch like a free to play game where we grind away to get digital candy. Fine, but can you do what pretty much every single other free to play game does then? Daily quests. Free to play games within your very own company do this and pretty well. I can hop on, do my quests and I either earn loot boxes, or some currency to buy the specific items I want.
Make purchased boxes have better odds (or no duplicates)
So I caved and purchased boxes. I am giving you my money. Could you not make these boxes have better odds of loot? Or maybe they cannot give duplicates? This way I know that by giving you my money instead of my time I should open some boxes that make me happy. Instead they have the same chances as the other boxes, which means if you are down on your luck, you just bought 10 (or more!) boxes of sprays. Because people even look at your spray (unless you tag during a play of the game).
Rework event boxes
Your event boxes are, well I have no idea how to put this without sounding rude… Your event boxes are a bit of a lie, aren’t they? A bit misleading. Event loot boxes tend to contain 1 item from the current event. This means you will finally get the correct rarity to drop, but then you get an item you already bought / opened almost a year ago. Yay. Maybe event boxes need a smaller pool, or to drop less, but with improved rarities. We are all here for the new skins and stuff, please don’t give me a spray or skin from the vanilla content in an event box.
Make currency drops better
The discs from the loot box go flying into the air. I see, YES, I see the telltale shimmer and colour of a legendary rarity item and NO. NO NO NO. NOOOOOO. It is a currency drop. Why is this happening? If you insist on having them drop, could you at least adjust them for your own inflation? 500 credits for a legendary drop when a legendary skin cost 1,000 credits was a punch to the gut, but you took it. Your new skins cost 3,000 guys, but you still drop 500 measly credits. Thanks, it still hurts.
Better value for duplicates
Before the Anniversary event started, I was planning on writing something else about Overwatch, but in a similar vein relating to how people feel forced to buy boxes for every event, while others do it with joy, looking for new skins and emotes for their characters. These people have racked up quite the collection of items in a year, meaning new boxes are just… duplicates. Whole boxes can be duplicate items and the value of a duplicate is well, pretty terrible. A bump in value when you get a duplicate would go a long way.
Better odds? Reroll?
Heroes of the Storm (again, your own company has cool examples of loot boxes) and games like Faeria offer rerolls. Heroes of the Storm lets you spend some gold (that you earn from daily quests) to reroll a box and hopefully get a better one. Faeria lets you reroll the highest rarity card you crack open (for free, but only one reroll) and you get the same rarity, but possibly a different colour card (in case you hate red for example, but love green decks).
Be more transparent on the odds
Unless the odds are the same as they are in China, we actually just have guesses based on small sample sizes as to what the odds are that you will open a box and get a legendary. Based on stats released in China (where it is legally required to reveal chances of any blind packaged goods) your chance of getting a legendary is 7.4%. That is one legendary roughly every 13.5 boxes. Oh and the long spoken about pity timer isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Chinese loot box odds. Does this mean it still exists and is baked into those numbers or just a wild theory people have? That is a topic for another day.
Limit the number of legendary / mythic items per event
Speaking of how many boxes, let’s look at a few things for the current event. There are 11 new skins, all of them are legendary. They cost 3,000 credits, meaning your best chance of getting them is in a box. You get one legendary every 13.5 boxes and there is no guarantee that your legendary is a) an item (could be gold) b) from this anniversary event and c) not a duplicate skin. Even without worrying about duplicates, if you got a new skin every 13.5 boxes, you would need 148,5 boxes. So call it 150. 50 boxes costs R591.80, so you need to fork out R1,775.40 in this magical world of no duplicates… yeah.
Setting characters as priority
So maybe the team over at Blizzard reads this ( I doubt it but hey, a man can dream) and they decide everything above sucks. Sucks so bad they are deleting my Blizzard accounts right now. Well here is another idea: let me tell you which heroes I really like. Let me tell you I like Reinhardt and it breaks my heart that I don’t even have a skin for him yet.
Relax the limitation on items only being acquirable during events
My final point (for now at least) would be to stop the feeling of dread and working against the clock that many players have right now. Stop making skins, sprays, poses, intros and all of these items only acquirable during the holiday they belong to. Unless you plan on having these same events every year (with those items available again) it just feels crazy to have items that look amazing and can only be acquired during a two or three week event, and never again. Yet they stay in the hero gallery, staring at you from behind a lock.
Would you add anything to this list? Obviously Jeff Kaplan and his team are a lot smarter than me, but it bothers me that nothing has been done to the loot boxes yet. Maybe they are working out the best way to do it and to do it all at once so that people can get used to the new system. With them not doing anything, a section of players is watching and thinks that the team is only paying lip service, saying that they know there is a problem, while watching the money roll in. Considering the game made $1 billion in sales and microtransactions before it was one year old, the cynic in me wants to agree with that mindset.