Ask a gamer what they think of lootboxes, and once your ears stop ringing from all the indignant shouting, you’ll probably start to pick up on the idea that they aren’t too fond of them. However, ask an Overwatch player what they think of lootboxes and chances are they’ll tell you they wish lootboxes were in Overwatch 2.
So, what’s going on? Has Blizzard successfully brainwashed its playerbase, or is there something else at play here? Not to worry, because in this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know about why Overwatch players want lootboxes back.
Lootboxes & Overwatch Explained
Not everyone played that much of the original Overwatch, so how about a high-level summary: Basically, gambling in video games has been a thing for a long time, but the modern, mainstream incarnation of lootboxes traces back to Overwatch. That was the game that truly popularized them and catapulted the mechanic into the mainstream.
Considering Overwatch launched in 2016, as the years went on, mainstream opinion of lootboxes soured considerably. Just a few years later lootboxes were a dirty word, much like ‘Metaverse’ or ‘NFT’ are today, all but disappearing from big, mainstream games outside of those on mobile and games like Genshin Impact.
What was so wrong with lootboxes? Well, if you could, in any way, exchange real money for a lootbox, this became a big problem since cosmetics (what lootboxes usually contain) are a huge part of gaming, and they’re maybe an even bigger part of multiplayer gaming where you have the chance to show off your cosmetics to other players. Lootboxes incentivized what were very often children (or just young people in general) to start gambling real money for virtual skins.
Accordingly, the practice has been phased out of big games largely, and the mere mention of lootboxes makes many a gamer angry nowadays. The thing is, though, that Overwatch never removed its lootboxes. They stayed, but the Overwatch lootbox system wasn’t, really, about dumping cash into the game for mass amounts of lootboxes.
In part no doubt to the larger reception of lootboxes, Overwatch lootboxes were made extremely generous. It was easy to get them, and get a lot of them, for free, and quality-of-life features like duplicate prevention and bad luck prevention made getting stuff, good stuff, from lootboxes actually a very reasonable thing to do, granted you were playing the game. No money required.
So, while undoubtedly a bad practice to many in theory, lootboxes in Overwatch were an effective, exciting way to earn stuff from playing the game. And this brings us to Overwatch 2, where there are no lootboxes, and the overall monetization of the game is very different.
Monetization in Overwatch 2
So, lootboxes are gone. Hooray, right? Well, kind of. See, while Overwatch was a full-priced premium game that had lootboxes, Overwatch 2 is a free-to-play game that doesn’t have lootboxes. And as far as free-to-play goes, Overwatch 2 is as bog standard as they come.
You have a battle pass you can level up and get meager rewards from for free, or you can pay for the premium battle pass and get meager rewards for money, until you get to the higher tiers where you’ll probably get a decent skin or two and maybe some profile customization options that you like and use. Then, of course, there’s the in-game shop, which looks to be taken directly from the Fortnite playbook.
Basically, you’ll have skins you can buy anytime, but most skins will be available on a day-to-day basis where you’re given the chance at buying the skin you want for the character you want. Of course, with a limited selection of skins on the shop at any time, chances are you won’t get the skins you want for the characters you want when you want them.
There are some bundles you can buy to unlock a number of skins at once, but those are relatively few and far between. Outside of all that, there isn’t much progression or unlocking of stuff to speak of, outside of free-to-play accounts being forced to grind to unlock all the different characters in the game. As stated above, extremely standard free-to-play stuff.
While hardly especially generous, the game is free, and considering how standard it all is, you may ask, what’s the problem? Well, with those lootboxes in Overwatch, you could constantly be earning boxes to open and, as a result, constantly getting new cosmetics. All just from playing the game. Sure, you had to actually buy the game, but once you did, you had the heroes, and you could get cosmetics through the lootboxes to make them look cool.
In Overwatch 2, you do get the game for free, and Overwatch players will carry over their skins and unlocked heroes and profile progress and all that, but in Overwatch 2, you aren’t really ever unlocking anything yourself. Outside of the occasion battle pass reward you’ll care about, if you want cosmetics, you’ve got to spend real money on them, more or less.
It’s less that people loved lootboxes in Overwatch, few did and few do now. It’s more that lootboxes in Overwatch were a good way to earn cool things for you to actually use, and even if Overwatch 2 has a more open, perhaps more ethical, system, it’s ultimately a lot more difficult (or impossible) to earn anywhere near the amount of stuff in Overwatch 2 that you could in the original game. The original game, mind you, that has been totally shut down.
If Blizzard introduced a system in Overwatch 2, for example, where by playing the game you were continuously earning a currency you could then use to buy skins and profile banners and all the familiar cosmetics that were inexpensive in terms of currency, fans would rejoice and much prefer this system to lootboxes. However, lootboxes seem to be gone, and this standard free-to-play model seems to be here to stay.