How Overwatch made me break my own microtransaction rule

The Overwatch Hallowe’en event has come to an end, and I imagine that Blizzard are incredibly happy with how the whole thing went. Particularly when it comes to how much money the company made from those limited edition microtransaction loot crates.

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DLC regularly comes in two flavours: Additional story missions and loot boxes that primarily include visual-only changes, like cosmetic skins. As a rule, I’ll happily buy into additional story missions because it’s going to enhance my enjoyment of a game, but I won’t buy loot boxes or cosmetic skins because it’s not going to improve anything other than how my character looks (with the exception of Borderlands, but who’s actually surprised?).

The new exception to that rule is now Overwatch. Blizzard announced this year’s Hallowe’en event with some beautiful skins, especially the Mercy Witch skin and the Reaper Pumpkin Head skin. These skins were only available during the event and even then, only available through event-themed loot boxes which were only acquired in-game by levelling up, or out-of-game by purchasing the boxes with IRL money.

I’ll admit that while I invest a lot of time in Overwatch, I don’t really level up all that often. I rarely play with friends, or play consecutive matches. The chances of me getting loot boxes were small, and then the chances of me getting the skins I actually wanted was even smaller… so I broke out my Paypal account and spent an undisclosed amount on Overwatch loot crates.

The reason I write about this is because it’s honestly one of those things that makes me angry. I see people who get mad about random chance loot boxes and I get mad at them. Nothing in those loot boxes actually increases your skill in the game, or gives you an advantage over your opponent; it just makes Mercy look like a total babe. How did I become the thing I hate? I got suckered in by good character design.

I have to applaud Blizzard for it, too. Getting people to engage in microtransactions and purchasing in-game cosmetic items in PC/console gaming can be difficult when your player base is so vehemently against the idea. The loot boxes even spawned their own weird “unboxing” videos using Blizzard’s recently released streaming integration.

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My hard earned, real-world money didn’t even get me all the skins I wanted. I ended up buying Mercy with in-game currency that I had “earned” through pulling doubles and currency drops, but couldn’t afford the Soldier 76 “Thriller” skin or the Junkenstein skin that I fell in love with during the “Junkenstein’s Revenge” event. And now, my chance has gone. After the event ended, the loot boxes and all Hallowe’en-related drops were locked away in the vault (until next Hallowe’en, I assume). You just can’t get them anymore.

I’m consoled by the fact that my Mercy looks like a boss-bitch, Reaper looks like he got his head stuck in some kind of unfortunate pumpkin-cosplay accident and he’s just rolling with it and Roadhog looks… well, like Roadhog but better. Damn it though, I thought I had stronger willpower. Now I just have less money…

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