Cosmetics don?t mean anything when it comes to gameplay? But is there a point where it should?
Overwatch is, relatively, an approachable game for new players. Every character across the roster plays the same, fundamentally, regardless of which account is accessing the character. There are no gameplay perks or benefits hiding behind a paywall, or accessible at certain levels. It?s for this reason Overwatch is largely considered a pick-up-and-play title, but is that a good thing?
With the advent of Competitive play, Overwatch saw the addition of golden skins for weapons for each individual hero. These skins cost 3000 CP per unlock, points that can only be accumulated in Competitive itself, and are handed out to a player after every won game and as bulk rewards at end-of-season based on highest rank achieved. Jeff Kaplan, game director, has ultimately lamented the decision of adding these types of rewards to ranked play.
I wish we would?ve never added any cosmetic items to Competitive. I think the people playing Competitive should only be there because they really care about playing in a Competitive mode, and they want to rise through the tiers ? that?s who I think belongs in Competitive. I don?t think we should overly incentivize players because of cosmetic rewards into the system any more than we already have[.] (Overwatch Q&A)
Golden weapons are largely considered trophies, originally accumulated to show off one?s prowess on a character of their choice. However, the longer Competitive sees CP rewards, the more and more saturated golden weapons become among the player base, and one can argue they never meant anything at all. If one does enough grinding, regardless of skill level, any player can earn any amount of golden weapons over time ? that is part of the attractiveness and repulsiveness of the design.
The Overwatch team has also, for the time being, seemed to reject the notion of adding unique events on top of the events already established the initial year. Cosmetic items that were locked as ?event only? are now obtainable across the board for new players when that event returns. The only items that cannot be obtained after their initial release have included the Blizzcon 2016 skin, and season-specific Competitive rewards (sprays and icons for both placement finishing and for Top 500). This means that, ultimately, there are no existing items that can be earned by player diligence, Competitive rank, or personal achievement. Is this something Overwatch needs?
On the one hand, any item that would affect gameplay should never be added into Overwatch. One hero skin should not provide an unfair advantage over using a different skin. One should not be able to unlock ?super-powered? guns for their favorite heroes that increase their DPS output. However, the only thing that, ultimately, players can show off is their in-game portrait. Where are the rewards for being an early adopter? What can players work toward achieving, outside improving their SR in Competitive? If the ?Origins Editions? skins continue to be unlockable by purchasing the ?edition of the time,? is there any way for long-term or dedicated Overwatch players to have a goal to work toward?
Overwatch could benefit from achievement-based content outside of sprays related to the in-game achievement system. Giving players long-term goals to pursue (special hero skins, profile medals) could help bring back older players who may only log into the game for the seasonal events.
After six seasons of Competitive, do golden weapons matter at all? And where is the content that veteran players can boast of? If every (skin) cosmetic item can be obtained at a later date, how desirable is it to have all of them in the first place?
Image credits to Blizzard Entertainment
Originally written for Guilded.gg