You’d think Overwatch 2 becoming available on Steam would reel in some new folks that would leave a positive review, but nope—the exact opposite happened. After just two days of being released on Steam, the game has stormed the charts, not in a good way. Overwatch 2 is now Steam’s lowest-rated game of all time, amassing over 87,000 negative reviews on Valve’s digital storefront. Within 24 hours after its release, it’s cracked the top ten worst-rated games on the platform.
Funnily enough, most of the negative reviews surrounding Overwatch 2 came from players living in China, who recently got their progress from every Blizzard game wiped off the earth.
Being the Most-Played Game Doesn’t Mean Being the Best
Blizzard’s decision to bring Overwatch 2 to Steam surprised me, considering that the company’s PC catalog has been exclusively beholden to its platform, Battle.net, for years. According to Blizzard, their move to port their games onto a new platform is a sign of many things to come, and they vowed that more of its PC games would be coming to Steam in the future.
Well, it looks like that’s not about to happen anytime soon. You’re better off holding your breath if you’re one of the five people excited for Blizzard’s games to come to Steam, because it only took Overwatch 2 less than 48 hours to become one of the lowest-rated games ever. Gamers seized the unenviable title with more than 87,000 negative reviews, dethroning the now second most wost-rated Steam game of all time with 29,000 user ratings, War of the Three Kingdoms.
Initially, after launching on August 10 for a few hours, the free-to-play shooter shot up through the charts and became one of the most-played games on Steam. It only took two days for Overwatch 2 to take the spot as the 13th most-played game. However, being popular doesn’t mean you’ll instantly get positive reviews.
A hefty chunk of the ongoing review-bombing effort for Overwatch 2 can be attributed to the activism against Blizzard’s decision to charge full price for Overwatch, only to eventually replace it with a free-to-play (albeit aggressively monetized and highly predatory) experience that we have now. Despite the first game having a six-year run until its follow-up, most, if not all, of the negative reviews, argue that Overwatch 2 is—at its core—a worse version of the original.
For the reviewers that didn’t mean Overwatch 2’s predecessor, they instead focused on the game’s monetization practices. The battle pass model is not only an anti-consumer move but also hinders any form of enjoyment. Other Steam users also lambasted Blizzard’s now-scrapped plan for PvE content. In contrast, others condemned the recently announced Season 6 roadmap and the recycling of an old cosmetic that will be reused as a battle pass unlockable.
Most of the Negative Reviews for Overwatch 2 Came From China
What other outlets haven’t caught on to is that ⅔ of the negative reviews on the Overwatch 2 Steam listing are written in Chinese. They contain most elements other users voice out, such as the lack of the promised PvE content and perceived downgrades compared to the original Overwatch. But the cut runs deeper than that.
You might be aware that NetEase and Blizzard recently ended their agreement to distribute Blizzard’s PC games in China. This led to the shutdown of Blizzard’s prominent online titles, such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2, on January 23, 2023. Gamers in China are understandably upset over losing their ability to play on a dedicated server and their accounts. Worst of all, there’s no announcement of a return so far. It’s safe to say that Blizzard isn’t planning to do anything about it for now.
Overwatch 2’s launch on Steam is the first time they can vent openly on an international platform, which is why many users are taking the opportunity to do so. The Steam launch for the free-to-play game allows players in China to access the game again. That’s because the international version of Steam can be accessed in China without a VPN.
Most of the complaints revolved around slow login times, poor online connection, the lack of a national server, the inability to use their “existing” account, and how Blizzard handles the game.
World of Warcraft and Overwatch were China’s most popular Blizzard PC games before the shutdown, both by time played and player count. It’s clear that OW was (and still is) a popular IP in China, but the latest string of events, starting from the abrupt shutdown at the beginning of 2023, has led to some pent-up frustration that players in China are letting out all at once.
It’s unclear whether these events could affect Blizzard’s plans to add more games to Valve’s storefront. This will likely depend on its reasons. If it’s because the company turned to Steam in anticipation of its sale to Microsoft, the negative reception of Overwatch 2 won’t likely impact Blizzard’s plans. But if it was to make their games more accessible since it demands a massive audience to profit as possible, then it’s safe to say that there might not be any more Blizzard games coming in the pipeline.