Investigating Overwatch's Stingy Loot System

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Investigating Overwatch's Stingy Loot System

Does Blizzard honestly expect anyone to 100% this sodding Overwatch game?

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Nice effort with the system creation there! It needed to be done to highlight how unsavoury this full priced, temporary game that still requires a subscription to even function for console play is. People will adamantly defend their right to be cynically fleeced for some reason i am yet to understand. Glad this genre isn't my thing, but people do worry me often.

Hm. There's one other random factor I think, since we don't know if the loot selection is "fair" or not. If it's totally random (weighted for rarity) or does it possibly lean towards things you don't already have? I don't know if it's ever been explicitly stated. But for the most part I agree. The loot system is unsatisfying and the expectation to complete a collection is pretty unrealistic.

Given that some nutjob 100%'ed World of Warcraft I imagine they thought people would just crank away at it for the next few years.

image

I distinctly remember, in reference to Pokemon Black and Yakuza 4, that Yahtzee admittedly doesn't care about 100% completion. So, why exactly does the completely optional loot system matter? Yes, it'd be pretty freaking hard to get everything through just level ups, but when it -physically- doesn't matter to how playable the game is, I don't see what the problem is. Left 4 Dead and 2 are pretty bare-bones when it comes to content, being so replayable just because of sheer fucking fun. Overwatch is about as fun, except while you play you can also natively get outfits to use on the characters, rather than needing to mod it in. And I don't see the need to defend anyone who is so obsessive over 100% completion (thank you, Undertale) or cosmetics (didn't they have like $50 mount armor in WOW?) as to drop 2 Grand on the game.

Not that I should continue suckling Overwatch's dick, but it seems like Yahtzee was struggling to fill out his review and this column, at least concerning the game itself. If it's not his sort of thing and it's as simple as a piece of bacon, then anything that pops out would need to be commented on to fill out the review and such, and quite frankly comes across less funny for being so forced:

-He acknowledges the amount of media taken up around Overwatch, but only apparently sees a single paragraph talking about the actual lore, when there are comic books and Pixar-looking Animations that flesh out quite a few characters and events and such.

-He noted the "buttgate" situation without actually understanding that they changed the design -entirely- out of artistic vision and went out of their way to hold it up. (I was one of the ones who thought otherwise, but after seeing the new image I got it. Extra Credits did a good job of helping me break it down to one of my friends).

-Overwatch's cast comes off as less human than Battleborns? It's probably because I went and looked around for all the additional lore content and the character chats in game (some dudes even apologize when made to battle against a friend on the opposite team), but I don't see how they're not human (...except for the Gorilla and the Robots technically, and one of those Robots would be able to argue that point super hard). A glance at the Battleborn character roster makes me wonder how many of them actually -are- human. (Granted, not only am I -not- down on Battleborn as an "Overwatch Clone", but glancing at the character roster makes me curious about the game. Somehow, I hadn't really seen anything on it until Yahtzee's review had me look stuff up on it.)

I'd wonder if I was just being a fanboy, but then I go back and watch his Starfox Zero review, and even as I like that game (as one of the few capable of enduring the controls, so to speak), it still both made me laugh and was more accurate. I also notice a similar situation in which he's kinda struggling to fill out his Paper Mario TTYD review even as he's praising it for being fucking fantastic.

I agree so much with this!!
I love Overwatch, but when I bought the game, I had no idea it'd be impossible to get all the items in it (unless you micropay them).

It should also be important to add this: DURING THE DEMO, IT WAS MUCH EASIER TO FIND COOL STUFF IN THE BOXES??? Conspiracy theory??

You're thinking of "pre-WoW" Blizzard that cared about its players. Post-WoW Blizzard discovered that they can just as easily not give people everything, and that if you put the stuff on an endless treadmill some people will keep playing in a desperate attempt to get more, and by allowing people to instead buy their way some people will throw cash at the problem to try and make it go away. Hearthstone's crafting dust system is just as pathetic to those who don't bust out the wallet.

I'd assume that reality is probably much worse - the expensive items are most likely less common, which means you will have to buy most of them and you will get less money (as you are less likely to get an expensive duplicate). This won't bring you close to the 12k, but probably significantly beyond 2.5k. Impossible to say without knowing the odds.

Though I assume the odds will be known sooner or later. There are loot tracking and droprate calculating sites for any MMO, no reason to assume people won't do it for Overwatch.

And yes, completing Overwatch's collections is an intentional gameplay challenge. I might have said that it wasn't, if the hero gallery page didn't display under each character the number of items you have found for them, formatted in a way that shows how many are left - XX/54 and so on. That's absolutely a tacit challenge to the viewer and if you say otherwise I'll fight yer.

This raises the question of whether it would be more or less obnoxious if the gallery page didn't have that counter.

I'm not sure about the Wii U version, but Smash Bros 3DS has achievement panels for collecting all special powers, items, and alternate specials for each of its characters. But there's no trivial way to gauge your progress - there's no easy way to tell at a glance how many trinkets you have left to collect. It seems too deliberate for it to be merely an oversight, as if the designers knew people would be going nuts and ruining the whole experience if they knew what sort of deliberate grind lay ahead of them.

In Overwatch, when you collect duplicate items, you receive a handful of credits that can be used to buy specific collectibles, and obviously your credits are going to mount up quickly when your collection is mostly full and duplicates become more common.
...
At the start of each cycle, before opening any loot boxes, the simulator would purchase any item that the wallet had the credits to afford.

Not to nitpick too much, but this is a pretty inefficient way of using your credits. A better way would have been, at the end of each cycle (after opening the loot boxes), to check the total value of the wallet against the total cost of the unobtained items and end the simulation if the value is greater than the cost.

Basically, you want to save all your purchases for the end, if you're going for 100% completion. That way you never get an item that's a duplicate of one you bought. Your way just wastes most of the early credits. Since you're going to be buying the last few dozen items either way, saving all those early credits to do so is the way to go. If the average item costs a couple hundred plus credits by then, then, e.g., 50 "must-buy" items times 250 credits, cut by a fifth to account for duplicates of purchased items, divided by an average of say 40 credits per box, and you've "overworked" yourself by about 250 boxes.

It's not a huge cut from your overall calculation, but it's still a pretty significant amount.

tl;dr: Yatzhee's estimates should be cut by about 10%.

Jorpho:

And yes, completing Overwatch's collections is an intentional gameplay challenge. I might have said that it wasn't, if the hero gallery page didn't display under each character the number of items you have found for them, formatted in a way that shows how many are left - XX/54 and so on. That's absolutely a tacit challenge to the viewer and if you say otherwise I'll fight yer.

This raises the question of whether it would be more or less obnoxious if the gallery page didn't have that counter.

I'm not sure about the Wii U version, but Smash Bros 3DS has achievement panels for collecting all special powers, items, and alternate specials for each of its characters. But there's no trivial way to gauge your progress ? there's no easy way to tell at a glance how many trinkets you have left to collect. It seems too deliberate for it to be merely an oversight, as if the designers knew people would be going nuts and ruining the whole experience if they knew what sort of deliberate grind lay ahead of them.

There is also an achievement for getting 50 unlocks for one character, so they do seem to be expecting you to be unlocking a lot for at least one character.

Worst part is the sprays and the voice lines taking up so much of the clutter when your unlikely to use more than one of each, and the only sprays I use are the 'Cute' ones I unlocked through achievements.

FillerDmon:
I distinctly remember, in reference to Pokemon Black and Yakuza 4, that Yahtzee admittedly doesn't care about 100% completion. So, why exactly does the completely optional loot system matter?

Because Overwatch doesn't offer any way to meassure your progress other than getting collectibles. Pokemon B&W and Yakuza 4 main goals are to finish the game, and that's a progression system independent to collecting the 100%.

Nice work Yahtzee, clever idea with the number-crunching.

The porn-shutdown and ass removal was just the tip of the ice-berg. Seems really greedy on the devs part. Gimme more maps instead of this hat-scam!

Steering clear like the plague.

ChaoGuy2006:
Nice work Yahtzee, clever idea with the number-crunching.

The porn-shutdown and ass removal was just the tip of the ice-berg. Seems really greedy on the devs part. Gimme more maps instead of this hat-scam!

Steering clear like the plague.

The map design teams are separate from the art teams. The artists, upon the map being completed, will go over it and make it look nice, but up until that part it's a separate team's job.

ChaoGuy2006:
Nice work Yahtzee, clever idea with the number-crunching.

The porn-shutdown and ass removal was just the tip of the ice-berg. Seems really greedy on the devs part. Gimme more maps instead of this hat-scam!

Steering clear like the plague.

they didn't remove the ass, they upgraded it

what is wrong with everybody

do you just read the first half of every sentence

Something I realized after watching the ZP and reading this is the need for a "sense of progression." I guess I might be in the minority of this, but for games like Overwatch especially, the largest sense of progression I get is actually getting better at the game. Being an online competitive game, the main source of enjoyment (at least for me) is the competition against other real peoples. So being able to beat more and more people is the biggest sense of progression I have in the game. Thinking that getting more cosmetics (especially because of the way you get them) is the only "progress" you can make in the game is... weird to me. I'd agree that it's the most tangible "progress" as skill is much more personal and hard to measure, but you get a lot more out of games then what they tell you you have.

Long story short, the biggest sense of progression in games like Overwatch is realizing you are getting better at them, not any digital items.

Gotta catch 'em all! Cosmetics!

I don't get the people acting like the cosmetics actually matter much. I usually see them before the game, think "That's cool" and don't pay them much attention until the end screen for a match.

Like really... big deal if getting them all isn't feasible. They're pretty much irrelevant to the actual content of the game.

CaitSeith:
Because Overwatch doesn't offer any way to meassure your progress other than getting collectibles. Pokemon B&W and Yakuza 4 main goals are to finish the game, and that's a progression system independent to collecting the 100%.

Overwatch's main goal is to get good at the game competitively. Hence the level up system used to mark how long you've been at it, and how the match making adjusts itself to your number of wins, losses, and other factors apparently measured in game to determine your skill level and put you with other people who are about as good as you, give or take. Just because Yahtzee doesn't give a damn about it (as said himself) doesn't mean that doesn't count as something to measure progress with.

Additionally, there are also a full system of achievements in game; some based on the type of level, most others based on things you can do with your hero, all of which can be satisfied, however (admittedly, one is to collect most of the cosmetics that apply to a single hero, . That certainly counts as progress. Again, entirely ignored to focus on a 100% inconsequential set of cosmetics that have no bearing on your progress or mechanics.

... though I wonder why some people feel games need a quantifiable end game goal in the first place. Fighting Games get by on just getting good (some have a token story mode, but this is usually just a fight against a number of bots and then some dialog/text/cutscenes). The Sims could be played pretty much infinitely. Minecraft added a "Final Boss", but I wasn't aware that you were required to do anything other than just dick around and explore, which was pretty much the plan for the longest part of its run. Left 4 Dead/L4D2 can be beaten in like 5 hours each in their "campaigns", but you could play the vs Mode for weeks and weeks, quite frankly (or at least, that's certainly how I've enjoyed the game).

ChaoGuy2006:
The porn-shutdown and ass removal was just the tip of the ice-berg. Seems really greedy on the devs part. Gimme more maps instead of this hat-scam!

You've already been called out on the "ass removal" bit (still surprised others didn't see the part 2 to the initial comment and get that they removed nothing; they made the pose fit the character better while still more than showing off her perky round rear), but I'd like to call out the "porn-shutdown" part of your post. The only thing to my knowledge that was shut down wasn't shut down because porn. It was shut down because it had illegally taken assets from the game and used that to make porn. Which sounds entirely justified to me; why shouldn't they defend people stealing their content and using it to make their own stuff? Not doing so would be stupid from a legal standpoint.

Comedic writing and coding skills. Some people have it all.

BytByte:
Something I realized after watching the ZP and reading this is the need for a "sense of progression." I guess I might be in the minority of this, but for games like Overwatch especially, the largest sense of progression I get is actually getting better at the game. Being an online competitive game, the main source of enjoyment (at least for me) is the competition against other real peoples. So being able to beat more and more people is the biggest sense of progression I have in the game. Thinking that getting more cosmetics (especially because of the way you get them) is the only "progress" you can make in the game is... weird to me. I'd agree that it's the most tangible "progress" as skill is much more personal and hard to measure, but you get a lot more out of games then what they tell you you have.

Long story short, the biggest sense of progression in games like Overwatch is realizing you are getting better at them, not any digital items.

I'm already as good at the game as I can get though, piss poor. My only reason to play is for laughs and Loot boxes.

FillerDmon:
... though I wonder why some people feel games need a quantifiable end game goal in the first place.

OoT: Different people likes different things from the same games. This isn't my opinion, it has been researched for decades: what do players want from a game? One of the conclusions (the Bartle taxonomy) groups players in 4 very different categories. Games are complex works, but the player base in each one is complex too.

Well, if a secondary and optional challenge to a game is going to get someone in this much of a bind, and if Blizzard worries about its rep with every single person (and since they pulled a slightly suggestive shot of a character's ass because one single person complained, they just might) I think I can solve this problem with two words: Collectibles Trading. Let players exchange duplicates as an alternative to cashing them in for in-game currency.

Okay, but what person in their right mind would feel the need to 100% Overwatch's loot? I mean you're gonna want one skin for each character (maybe two if you like a couple), the highlight intros and the sprays you like. I can't imagine a vast majority of players won't have everything they want by level 150, level 200 at most.

One-fifth the value for duplicates? Ouch. It's hard not to read that as exploiting a problem that you, yourself caused. It's perfectly possible to create a system that never draws duplicates, or gives the full "market" value of the duplicate (or even half the value), or simply allows a straight trade for something else in its class, or trade between players. Combined with the unattractive nature of some of the drops (I've heard more than one reviewer complain about getting a box of spray patterns), it begins to sound like the game is trying to engender a compulsion to "earn" (or buy) more pulls at a slot machine.

Now, of course, as long as the game remains fun, whatever. But there's a nasty loop that occurs in a lot of minds where instead of "I spend so much time playing this game because it's fun" the interpretation becomes "I must be having fun- after all, look at how much time I spend playing this game". I have to raise an eyebrow at games that seem to be trying to exploit that kind of loop.

FillerDmon:
Overwatch's main goal is to get good at the game competitively. Hence the level up system used to mark how long you've been at it, and how the match making adjusts itself to your number of wins, losses, and other factors apparently measured in game to determine your skill level and put you with other people who are about as good as you, give or take.

That is demonstrably untrue. If it was, competitive mode would've been a launch feature and not something that's being added later, and non-competitive features like quick play and brawls wouldn't exist. Furthermore, the level up system has less of a correlation to how good you are than it does how long/much you've played. You could be the worst player in the world and still be the highest level just by grinding it hard enough. And match making may adjust to your skill level, but since match making is invisible there's no sense of progress and indeed it's pretty much impossible to tell how high up or down you actually are. All these things emphasize that the game is much more heavily casual focused than it is hardcore, which means competitive play is absolutely not the main goal.

Additionally, there are also a full system of achievements in game; some based on the type of level, most others based on things you can do with your hero, all of which can be satisfied, however (admittedly, one is to collect most of the cosmetics that apply to a single hero, . That certainly counts as progress. Again, entirely ignored to focus on a 100% inconsequential set of cosmetics that have no bearing on your progress or mechanics.

Except that by your own admission, those cosmetics are actually required for one of the achievements. Furthermore, what do the achievements reward you with? More cosmetics! Which means the cosmetics are clearly intended to be an objective to be acquired, both to complete achievements but also as a reason TO complete achievements, further emphasizing why the default method of obtaining them is stupid.

... though I wonder why some people feel games need a quantifiable end game goal in the first place. Fighting Games get by on just getting good (some have a token story mode, but this is usually just a fight against a number of bots and then some dialog/text/cutscenes). The Sims could be played pretty much infinitely. Minecraft added a "Final Boss", but I wasn't aware that you were required to do anything other than just dick around and explore, which was pretty much the plan for the longest part of its run. Left 4 Dead/L4D2 can be beaten in like 5 hours each in their "campaigns", but you could play the vs Mode for weeks and weeks, quite frankly (or at least, that's certainly how I've enjoyed the game).

You argue that they're meaningless, but just the fact that they're there at all means that clearly somebody wanted them. The same is true for Overwatch, except the difference is that the progression ISN'T there (or what is there is mindbogglingly stupid) and people are asking for it.

You know... as much as I would love a new Time Splitters game, I am kinda glad that the series seems dead and buried. At least it went out with dignity and didn't get slogged down by nonsensical and shady micro-transactions with its insane roster of crazy characters like Overwatch did.

*shrug*

I about level 60 and I've already unlocked almost everything that I actually wanted with no extra purchases.

Zhukov:
*shrug*

I about level 60 and I've already unlocked almost everything that I actually wanted with no extra purchases.

Same, almost level 70 and I just need two more legendary costumes and I'm set.

You'd need to be mad to take a serious go at it, but we know mad people exist, and it's very unethical for Blizzard to tease them. If they're going to exploit the mentally ill they could at least take a tip from the Victorians and do it in public with funny costumes.

Have you SEEN some of those skins? Of COURSE they did that!

And lets all remember all the holiday themed items that'll be coming. If you think Blizzard is above charging for Halloween costumes or Xmas snowballs, then you've never played a single Blizzard game.

Not to nitpick too much, but this is a pretty inefficient way of using your credits. A better way would have been, at the end of each cycle (after opening the loot boxes), to check the total value of the wallet against the total cost of the unobtained items and end the simulation if the value is greater than the cost.

Basically, you want to save all your purchases for the end, if you're going for 100% completion. That way you never get an item that's a duplicate of one you bought. Your way just wastes most of the early credits. Since you're going to be buying the last few dozen items either way, saving all those early credits to do so is the way to go. If the average item costs a couple hundred plus credits by then, then, e.g., 50 "must-buy" items times 250 credits, cut by a fifth to account for duplicates of purchased items, divided by an average of say 40 credits per box, and you've "overworked" yourself by about 250 boxes.

It's not a huge cut from your overall calculation, but it's still a pretty significant amount.

tl;dr: Yatzhee's estimates should be cut by about 10%.

I agree with this. It occurred to me while reading that it would be better to do it like this to assure less credits spent to be duplicated later. It's not dissimilar to an Offset Mortgage, where the positive capital acts against the amount owed, and when the two meet can cancel out. It means a lot more empties will be filled with random drops, saving credits and makes the most efficient use of credits earned from duplicates.

I just wish the game didn't seem so vindictive about the drops it gives. I swear it must weigh how many drops you get towards the characters you play the least. Of all the drops I've had up to now, only 2 skins have been for characters I use regularly.

Uh, guys, I think the whole sense of progression with the "Getting good at the game" argument as far as multiplayer games are concerned is thrown out the window when a 17 year old can disband an entire "professional" esports team.

Have to really disagree with Yahtzee on this one. The "Loot system" of Overwatch was an afterthought - a fun little way to get some random goodies here and there. None of the items have any effect on gameplay. His complaints are petty and make it seem like Blizzard is "holding stuff hostage" from us.

What happened to the old days when people were able to enjoy video games without having to be pat on the back every X hours, given a random goodie, and told "well done! You have progressed!"

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