- Despite being best-sellers, NBA 2K24, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Overwatch 2 have been heavily criticized on Steam.
- Though these critiques might be seen as "review bombing," many grievances are legitimate.
- While it's hoped that the companies heed the feedback, it's uncertain if they will.
Activision Blizzard deserves kudos for giving us some of the most memorable properties in gaming history. The same goes for Take-Two Interactive, the owners of 2K, among others.
Normally, you'd find the games made by both companies or their subsidiaries among those that, more often than not, review well enough to get on the good graces of gamers. Even when subject to the occasional review bombing, the likes of NBA 2K, Diablo, Call of Duty, and Overwatch, are popular enough to remain on the positive side of user reviews. So, you can only imagine the surprise on everyone's faces when these two multi-billion-dollar companies now own three of the worst-reviewed games on Valve's digital games distribution platform.
As shown on the "Hall of Shame" section of Steam250, which is a list of the worst-reviewed games on Steam, Overwatch 2, NBA 2K24, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, occupy the first 1st, 2nd, and 4th places, respectively.
It's ironic these three games are also some of the best-selling games in the past few years. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in particular, is the fastest-selling game in Call of Duty history. It's right up there alongside the likes of Hogwarts Legacy and Grand Theft Auto V as games that made close to or over a billion within a week of launching.
Unfortunately, it's this distinction that makes the latest discovery so much more disappointing.
In a climate where AAA video games come with heavy expectations, the top-billing new installments in the best-selling franchises such as NBA 2K24, Overwatch 2, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II have not just failed to meet expectations but are facing significant backlash.
The user review system on Steam paints a bleak picture for the aforementioned titles. NBA 2K24, with its recent launch, has found itself the subject of severe criticism from the player community. The on-court gameplay, heralded as being sharp, is overshadowed by aggressive microtransactions. A newly introduced badge system intensifies the grindy feel of the game. Further disappointment arises as PC versions appear to be based on last-gen consoles, thereby excluding them from enjoying the superior graphics of the newer PS5 and Xbox Series X versions. This has translated into NBA 2K24 being the second-worst-rated game on Steam, narrowly avoiding the top (or bottom) spot held by Overwatch 2.
Yet, while 2K Sports is under fire for its approach, it seems that the company's primary focus might not be the full price of the game, given that their titles frequently get heavy discounts not long after launch. The nature of NBA 2K's model, with its abundance of microtransactions, seems to cater more to die-hard basketball fans and big spenders than the general gaming populace.
Overwatch 2's situation is, at the very least, more intriguing. Despite topping the list of worst user-reviewed games on Steam, it remains quite popular. One of the main criticisms, apart from monetization strategies, is the forced shift from the premium predecessor to a free-to-play model. This not only rendered the original Overwatch unplayable but also erased much of the game's legacy and goodwill. Blizzard's challenges with Overwatch 2 extend beyond the gameplay issues; they include the end of a significant agreement with NetEase for distributing Blizzard games in China. This led to a near-total blackout of Blizzard titles earlier in the year, aggravating the pent-up frustrations of the massive Chinese player base.
Simultaneously, the Call of Duty series, although highly profitable, isn't safe from negative feedback. The sequel to the 2019 reboot, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, has seen dwindling fan reception due to various reasons, from a rampant cheating problem in the free-to-play Warzone 2 to questionable microtransactions. Furthermore, Activision's alleged attempts to redirect users from the game's original Steam page, believed to be in response to the overwhelmingly negative reviews, has not gone unnoticed or unchallenged by the community.
We'll see soon enough if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will fare better when it comes out later this year.
It's easy to blame the negative feedback on another "review bombing" campaign, which are community-wide attacks by aggrieved gamers that have targeted the likes of Diablo 4, Final Fantasy 16, Skullgirls, and so much more. But, this isn't the case here. Most of the negative criticism directed against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Overwatch 2, and NBA 2K24, are all valid.
So, where does this leave consumers? Well, hopefully, in a better state. Very few instances can make publishers listen to its community than when their games gain notoriety, and there's nothing more infamous than being known as one of the worst-reviewed games on a platform with roughly a hundred thousand titles listed.
Of course, that's the best scenario. The likelihood that Activision Blizzard and 2K won't listen is still extremely high.
If nothing else, this situation guarantees that Activision Blizzard might not release more of its games, including Diablo 4, which is gaining just as much notoriety on its own, on Steam anytime soon.