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Summer Games & Ban Waves

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Blizzard surprised Overwatch fans with two things this week: another massive ban wave for cheaters and the deployment of Summer Games 2016, an update including Overwatch’s first seasonal event. Both were welcome surprises, though the Summer Games event has stirred up some controversy in the Overwatch community.

Anyone familiar with Blizzard games knows that the developer loves its seasonal events, particularly with World of Warcraft. Looking to extend that love to Overwatch, Blizzard kicked things off with an event themed around the 2016 Summer Olympics. The update includes a metric crapton of new cosmetic items, including new skins, sprays, icons, highlight intros, and emotes. The content focuses on each character’s country of origin and some of the skins are particularly cool. Even Genji’s skin, which is basically just a recolor, really stands out. Personally, I’m digging Zarya’s weightlifter skin.

But the introduction of these new items did not come without controversy. Summer Games items can only be earned through Summer Game loot boxes (which have taken over for regular loot boxes through the duration of the three week event), meaning that yes, you won’t be able to unlock any of this event content using in-game currency like you can with the rest of the cosmetic items. This is entirely intentional, as Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan explained in a new developer update video released yesterday. Blizzard wants this content to feel special and exclusive so that players who see a character using the new cosmetics months from now when the event has long been over will find it noteworthy. Maybe they’ll see a player in a skin they didn’t get a chance to acquire this year and will look forward to the opportunity to snag the item once again if the event rolls around again next summer.

This hasn’t gone over particularly well with the Overwatch community, particularly for completionists who have the intention of fully filling out their Overwatch hero galleries. Given the limited nature of these events, and the fact these boxes can only be acquired either through paying for them using cash or through leveling up, the notion of snagging everything is daunting, if not impossible. It’s not just the completionists that are upset, either. Some players just want some specific items and they feel like they may not be able to acquire them over the course of the event no matter what they do. Even throwing money at buying loot boxes is no guarantee you’ll get what you want. I feel Blizzard should reconsider its stance here and find a way to throw players a bone. I feel the best way to do this would be to add a new currency to the game that could only be acquired during this event, so that players at least have the option to target their unlocks and can slowly work through filling out their collections over time.

The true star of the Summer Games event is the latest weekly brawl mode – Lucioball. To sum it up, Lucioball is basically what would happen if you smashed Overwatch and Rocket League together. It’s pretty much a straight rip of Rocket League, only instead of cars, you’re all playing Lucio. The goal isn’t to kill each other, but to punch and sound blast the ball across the map and score goals. It’s a 3v3 affair and a heck of a lot of fun. Matches are also quick, clocking in at around four minutes or so, so it’s easy to jump in and out of. Honestly, I kind of wish this mode stuck around after the event, though I know that likely won’t happen.

Finally, there are the bans. Blizzard tends to compile a list of cheaters over a period of time and then ban them all in a single wave. We’ve seen one wave go out since the game launch, but this week saw its second. The reactions, particularly from the cheaters, have been amusing to say the least. I don’t know if these people are just trolling or they really are oblivious to how ridiculous their behavior is. I’ll never understand why people cheat in online videogames and I understand communities for cheaters to hang out with and discuss their fondness for cheating even less.

What’s your take on the Summer Games 2016 event? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB