Recently, during the brief moments I’ve had time to spare, I’ve been hanging out in a new Discord server. By which I mean it’s an old Discord server that I’ve been a part of for several months, but it is new that I’m hanging out in it. The people there are pretty nice and they all think I’m cool (or at least they’re always happy to hear from me when I show up), but they’re all trying (gently, in a friendly and only mildly pressuring way) to get me to play Overwatch with them. They’ve been unsuccessful so far because they make just as many points about why I should stay away as they do about why I should redownload the game, but what managed to break the mighty temptation I felt watching them last night was the fact that Overwatch 2 requires you to add your phone number to your account if you want to play the game.
That’s hardly an unforivable sin, of course, especially compared to all of the trouble Activision-Blizzard has been dealing with over the years since I stopped playing, but it’s a line I’m not willing to cross. There are other lines I’ve been unwilling to cross, which is why I put the game away and uninstalled my Battlenet launcher years ago, but most of those are things that can be dealt with given enough time and evidence from the company that they’re working to address the myriad internal issues that have caught the public’s attention over the years. I don’t exactly look for news every day, since I have more reasons to not play Overwatch than the company had public controversies, but I do occasionally check for news whenever I feel like getting the pulse of the video game industry. I haven’t seen anything major yet, but it does look like they’re moving in the right direct and I genuinely hope the company becomes a better place for its workers as time passes.
But even if all of that was magically fixed and commnunicated to the public in such a way that left me with no reservations about continuing to support a company that has so-often misstepped in the past “(which I’m not taking off the table since anything is possible in this day and age), I still don’t think I could get over how horribly they nerfed tanks back in the days of the Overwatch League. They chose to deliberately manipulate the professional meta rather than allow it to naturally progress and change. Which had resounding and awful impact on non-professional play to the extent that it stopped being fun to play tanks or supports for someone (me) who loved them so much I don’t think my time on all DPS characters combined was equal to even the lowest amount of time I had on any of the Support or Tank characters. It was so frustrating that this game I loved had been rendered unenjoyable for me. Sure, I might have enjoyed the brief window of being incredibly overpowered when they boost tanks to the point where they had to do a mid-season balance patch for the Overwatch League to correct the “three tanks, two supports, one DPS” meta that had developed, but I gave the game multiple months (maybe a whole year?) to undo some of the nerfing they did following that season and they only made it worse. That, plus the controversy at the time (I genuinely do not remember which one it was since I also don’t remember when I actually stopped playing completely, rather than playing less) is what drove me off. Plus, Destiny 2 wound up moving to Steam and I had absolutely no need to keep Battlenet around anymore.
Now, it has been years. A veritable lifetime, thanks to the way the pandemic has stretched and molded time. I bet I remember how to play, how to get around the old maps and to measure the ebb and flow of a battle as it rages around (or away) from the objective, how to call shots (though my friends would probably debate that I even knew how to do this given my difficulty with remembering character names and proper nouns) and maybe even how to not feed the other team’s DPS, but I am certain I’d be bringing down the average skill level of my team. And I don’t mean that in my usual “I’m bad at things” kind of way, but because I’ve lost all sense of how much damage things do, what characters to watch out for, how hitboxes might have changed, and how much damage the various health pools can take. All of the data that goes into playing a game. All the things people don’t think to explain and that take a decent amount of time to assemble for yourself. And the game gets shut down a few days after writing this and two-ish days before posting this (I haven’t actually checked what time it’s gonna happen), so it’s not like i’m going to have the time to be anything but bad at the game.
Plus, as I covered earlier, though in less aggressive terms, Overwatch 2 can have my phone number over my cold, dead body. I’m sick of needing to give everything my phone number. Since when did it become part of getting packages delivered? I’ve literally never gotten called about a package by a carrier that has marked my phone number as vital, must-be-included information, despite how many times I’ve had a package delivered to the wrong place or left undelievered because I didn’t look like I was home. I know they want it so they can sell it along with whatever other data they’re selling about me and my browsing habits since I literally never got spam calls until I started being required to enter a phone number to get packages shipped to me. No social media company has ever gotten my phone number. In fact, the only places that have are my financial institutions, my ISP, my landlord, my employer, and my healthcare providers. All of which can definitely sell my phone number, but none of which had judging by the absolute lack of robocalls I’d gotten prior to shipping forms requiring phone numbers.
I understand why Blizzard is doing it. It makes sense. There are quite a few potential problems with the system, given that only certain types of phone numbers (or maybe phone plans?) are usable for this, but it is clear that they intended this to prevent people from making extra accounts by buying one or more pre-paid phones they use just to get an extra Overwatch account, especially since they took the purchase price off the game. I just personally don’t much care for the idea of giving anyone my phone number.
All of that said, doing research for this post has me genuinely reconsidering my position given that Overwatch 2 looks like it un-nerfed tanks, even if it does only allow you to have one per team now. It looks like the game’s been shaken up and everything my (INCREDIBLY BRIEF) research showed me seemed to indicate that the game has improved. I dunno if it’ll be enough to get over my hesitance to give Activision-Blizzard my phone numbers, my lack of trust in battlepass style systems, and my genuine lack of time for a new time-sink of a video game, but it’s definitely got me actively weighing my choices now.