On August 10, Blizzard released the highly anticipated sixth season of Overwatch 2. Titled Invasion, the update quickly garnered more than 75,000 concurrent players. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them left negative reviews on Steam, such that Overwatch 2: Invasion soon became the worst-reviewed game ever on the platform.
Gamers did this to show their displeasure at Blizzard for some of its recent decisions. Firstly, the company changed its monetization strategy for the game and locked some erstwhile free features behind paywalls. Secondly, Blizzard failed to keep its word and release a promised PvE mode that fans were really looking forward to.
These events, as well as the shutdown of Blizzard games in China, drew the ire of many Overwatch 2 fans and they took to review bombing the game on Steam to show their displeasure. A few days ago, Overwatch 2's director Aaron Keller published a post that addressed the situation. In the post, Keller said that, according to their 'core players,' Overwatch 2 "is in the best state it's ever been."
We'd certainly be interested what core players actually have to say about this themselves. He went on, "Many have told us that it feels like we're really listening to their feedback and that this season is a culmination of that. It's so awesome to hear."
Keller acknowledged the overwhelmingly negative reviews Invasion has received on Steam. He chose to view the event as a glass-half-full situation, though, and celebrated the influx of new players to the game. Even disgruntled players boost your numbers, right?
In his words, "We also launched on Steam last week, and, although being review-bombed isn't a fun experience, it's been great to see lots of new players jump into Overwatch 2 for the first time. Our goal with Overwatch 2 has been to make the game more accessible than ever for more people than ever before."
Keller admitted that the negative reviews were primarily because of his studio's failure to deliver on the promised PvE mode, which has long been promised by the developers and at the top of the community wishlist. Said mode would have also fleshed out narrative content.
We admire Keller's willingness to tackle the issue head on and not shy away from it like it's not real. We expected him to apologize to the game's ardent fans for how things turned out but he didn't. In our opinion, the fact he didn't do this is a missed opportunity to tell fans that Blizzard takes full responsibility for the lapse and assure them the studio has their best interests at heart.
One thing we think Keller did right was outlining the way forward. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, he pointed to the future and promised growth and improvement, which are essential for the success of any multiplayer game, especially if its live-service.
According to him, Blizzard's plan for Overwatch's future is to "continually create and innovate on what is making the game great now for the players who are playing now." To accomplish this, they will develop "more maps, heroes, game modes, missions, stories, events, cool cosmetics, and features."
The Steam review bomb is not the only problem the first-person shooter game has faced. In its second-quarter earnings report, Blizzard revealed the game's player engagement had dropped. Despite this, Overwatch 2's executive producer believes there is no cause for concern. We wrote about his thoughts on the subject in this article.