‘Overwatch’ Anniversary Event: Blizzard May Consider Loot Box Changes

Overwatch‘s anniversary event has been running for a little over a week now, and while it’s generally gone fairly well for the massively-successful Activision-Blizzard franchise, it’s come with its fair share of complaints, too. Most of those have been over loot boxes, and the rewards — or lack thereof — that players have been seeing.

As Dot Esports reports, the Overwatch anniversary is probably the biggest event that Blizzard has ever run for the game, featuring 108 new event items, which are only going to be sticking around for the three weeks that the event is running. Eleven of those items are legendary skins, probably the most desirable items in Overwatch — and also the rarest. The regular legendary item drop rate is about one in 12 boxes, and some players are claiming that the drop rates are unusually low. According to PlayStation Lifestyle, one player on Reddit claimed that he only got one event skin out of 50 loot boxes; another claimed that out of 70 loot boxes, he only got three event skins. Given that those boxes cost a dollar each, that’s more than the retail price of the game for a single skin.

Compounding these issues is the fact that the Overwatch anniversary event is so large, and notably, so expensive. Yes, every item is available for in-game credits (which also come out of loot boxes), and to purchase them all costs 56,000 credits, nearly 20,000 more than the previous most-expensive event Overwatch has run.

They're cute, but they're probably not worth $50 each to the average 'Overwatch' player.
They're cute, but they're probably not worth $50 each to the average 'Overwatch' player. [Image by Activision-Blizzard]

So while the math probably makes sense — every player naturally takes bad luck as a sign that something is broken — even the developers are admitting that, at least, it’s something worth their consideration.

And that’s why, according to PC Gamer, game director Jeff Kaplan took to the Overwatch forums himself this weekend to reassure players that they were being heard.

“I just wanted to acknowledge that we’ve been following the threads about the loot box rewards as they pertain to the anniversary events, other events and loot boxes in general. The feedback and suggestions have been helpful to us. We had a really great discussion yesterday about the feedback we’ve been hearing this week. While I don’t have any immediate action items to report, I thought it was important for you to know that we are listening.”

Kaplan’s words certainly aren’t a promise of action, but it’s likely that he wouldn’t have said anything if the Overwatch team weren’t at least considering some changes. Overwatch is currently Activision-Blizzard’s biggest money-maker by a fairly significant fraction; CEO Bobby Kotick attributes over 80 percent of the company’s revenues last quarter to Overwatch sales, and a balance has to be struck between motivating players to make purchases, and frustrating them into giving up.

Those frustrations can really be compounded by events like the Overwatch anniversary. Limited-time items motivate players, but while three weeks sounds like a long time, most of Overwatch‘s most-lucrative audience doesn’t actually have that much free time over three weeks. According to some admittedly non-scientific polls run by the Overwatch community, the Overwatch player-base is overwhelmingly male and in the 18-34 age group. They have jobs, they have studies, they have families in many cases, and they don’t have a lot of time to grind out in-game credits over the short term.

One might think that’s the perfect recipe to get them dropping more money, but what studies have shown is that players hate feeling pressured to pay for theoretically-free content; they’re willing to sink money into a game, but only when they feel that they’re being reasonably rewarded for it.

These aren't supposed to be an endurance challenge to see how many you can open without losing it.
These aren't supposed to be an endurance challenge to see how many you can open without losing it. [Image by Activision-Blizzard]

Whether or not they actually are, when the odds feel overwhelmingly bad, players stop paying, and they convince other players not to take the gamble in the first place. Fans on forums think that it might be best for Overwatch to tweak event drops a bit, before their players stop buying into events entirely, and it seems like something that Kaplan and his team are well-aware of.

[Featured Image by Activision-Blizzard]