Checking back in on Blizzard

October 10, 2022

It's been over a year since I swore off of Blizzard games. A lot has changed in that time. Many people have left the company, and they've made several changes that appear on the surface to indicate a better culture. They've also made some questionable decisions. I decided to give Blizzard another chance.

This decision point happened a little over a week ago. I was talking with Sarah about the news of the impending release of Overwatch 2. Despite having avoided Blizzard games for a year, I never stopped checking the headlines on Polygon about what Blizzard Entertainment was up to. Mostly it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The release of Diablo Immortal was somehow worse than anyone could have predicted, with one of the most awful monetization schemes known to man. The last few major leaders for Overwatch left. There was some good, though. World of Warcraft's team actually seemed to be making positive progress.

As I was mulling all this over with Sarah, I realized that enough had changed that I might be willing to give them another shot. It dawned on me, too, that bearing a grudge against a game company may not be the best way to encourage internal change at that game company. So the next day, after giving it a second round of thought, I decided to rescind my personal ban on Blizzard games and give it another go.

I reinstalled Overwatch for the last full day of the game's life before it was shut down to make way for Overwatch 2. I even tried to livestream it, though it was only the next morning that I realized the stream had no sound. Playing Overwatch was like stretching muscles long unused - no game had ever filled that niche for me, though I tried Paladins for awhile. I enjoyed being back in it. It felt like greeting an estranged friend for the first time in a long time.

I even bought the Collector's Edition for the new World of Warcraft expansion, since I own the CEs of every expansion. I only lack the CE for the original game. I'm waiting until later to begin playing that again, though. The expansion releases at the end of November, and while I still have a lot of the Shadowlands content to play through before it, I'm in no hurry.

Diablo 2: Resurrected finally landed on my PC, too. I had preordered it before the ban went into effect, so I never played it. The graphics are impressive and it feels like my memories of the original. I really do hate managing potions, though. That never changed.

Overwatch 2's launch was plagued by server problems, long queues, and a DDoS attack. I got to play it a little, and it seems to have the broad strokes down. There are tons of tiny little issues that irk me, though. Many of the new "legendary" skins are only variations of the basic skins, not complete reimaginings like all of the old legendaries. Further, they're extremely expensive compared to the old skins. I doubt I'll be collecting any of the new skins, or really even participating much in the new cosmetics shop. Too little value for too big of an expense. The gameplay itself, though, is pretty solid. I like the new Push mode.

So, the games are fun enough. But what about the company's culture? For that, I have to reach out to some friends. We'll see what I learn. If the culture is changing then this may not be a temporary return for me.