Blizzard Entertainment released its first game on Steam on Thursday, bringing Overwatch 2 to Valve’s storefront. On day one, the game drew a sizable audience, peaking at more than 75,000 players. Not quite Baldur’s Gate 3 numbers, but high enough to rank it in the top 15 games played on Steam in the past 24 hours.
Overwatch 2 also managed to crack the top sellers list on Steam. Blizzard is currently selling multiple content bundles for the game, including paid access to new PvE story missions ($14.99) and a pair of hero bundles ranging from $4.99 to $19.99.
Steam users also showed up in droves to review the game, with the vast majority of users writing negative reviews. On Friday morning, more than 45,000 Steam users have rated the game, saddling Overwatch 2 with an “overwhelmingly negative” user review description. Many of the complaints are familiar, slamming Blizzard and its debut Steam game for its free-to-play monetization tactics, game balance, a lack of promised PvE content, and a toxic player base. Some reviewers say they’ve been playing since Overwatch’s launch in 2016, and they simply showed up to lament the sequel’s changes.
“Welcome to Steam, Blizzard,” summed up one user. “Here are all the honest reviews.”
Negative sentiment toward Overwatch 2 and Blizzard as a corporate entity controlling the game’s ongoing development aren’t new, but Overwatch 2’s fresh availability on Steam surfaces that negativity for all to see. There’s no equivalent user review section on Battle.net; disgruntled Overwatch fans need to head over to that platform’s forums or Blizzard’s social media channels to vent their spleens.
Blizzard seems willing to address some user complaints. It’s been as vocal as ever in communicating changes to heroes and their abilities. It also has a program called “Defense Matrix” that’s ostensibly aimed at curbing toxicity — though I still far too frequently see racial and homophobic slurs in Overwatch 2 chat, and rarely do I get confirmation that any action has been taken against those players. Furthermore, Blizzard is only slightly starting to budge on how it monetizes Overwatch 2. The developer recently started handing out more in-game currency, though not the premium currency (Overwatch Coins) that is required for premium skins and the game’s seasonal battle passes.
“It’s our goal at Blizzard to listen to players and try to exceed their expectations in everything we do,” Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, recently said when announcing that the company was bringing its games to Steam. Based on the negative outpouring of reviews by Steam users, it hasn’t yet done that and should look to its free-to-play peers, like the highly user-reviewed Apex Legends, for inspiration on how to massage Overwatch 2’s monetization.
It should also brace for more harsh, often painfully honest user reviews as it brings more of the Blizzard game catalog to Steam.
Update (Aug. 14): Steam users piled on Overwatch 2 over the weekend, leading to an inauspicious milestone for Blizzard’s game: It is now the lowest user-reviewed game on Steam, with more than 117,000 reviews and an “overwhelmingly negative” overall assessment. On Steam250’s “hall of shame” list, Overwatch 2 has a cumulative user review score of 0.94 (out of 10). Approximately 91% of the game’s reviews are negative.
According to Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, a good portion of those negative reviews come from Chinese players. A common sentiment among that audience, Ahmad notes, is that “gamers in China have been upset over losing their accounts and ability to play on the national server, with no announcement of a return so far. The launch on Steam is the first time that gamers can vent on an open and international platform, with many taking the opportunity to do so.”
Activision Blizzard and Chinese distributor NetEase severed their 14-year partnership in November 2022, and players in the country lost access to games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2. Now that players in China have access to Overwatch 2 again through Steam, complaints there also focus on the lack of local servers and slow log-in speeds and connections.
Here's something that no English language media outlet has caught on to:— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 13, 2023
Overwatch 2 currently has 100k reviews on Steam since launching 3 days ago, of which 91% are negative.
However, nearly 2/3 of those reviews (63k) are written in S.Chinese, with 97% of them being… https://t.co/sbnSxRdraW