A mere couple of days after its release on Steam, Overwatch 2 has secured its place in history— as the worst user-reviewed game ever on the biggest PC games store, replacing War of the Three Kingdoms, a card battle game from Chinese developer Youka, which previously held the title. Even after thousands of players have picked the game up on the Steam Store, it has amassed a critical and all-time low user-review score of 0.96. One of the major reasons behind this poor reception of Activision Blizzard’s multiplayer shooter is the massive amount of negative reviews from Chinese players.
According to a tweet by Daniel Ahmad, the Director of Research and Insights at Nico Partners, out of 100k reviews for Overwatch 2 on Steam, 63k (almost 2/3) of the reviews are written in Chinese. Among these 63k Chinese reviews, over 97% are extremely negative.
Here's something that no English language media outlet has caught on to:
Overwatch 2 currently has 100k reviews on Steam since launching 3 days ago, of which 91% are negative.
However, nearly 2/3 of those reviews (63k) are written in S.Chinese, with 97% of them being… https://t.co/sbnSxRdraW
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 13, 2023
The majority of these negative reviews cite similar problems – lack of engaging PvE content, discontent over increased prices for in-game microtransactions, and downgraded content quality as compared to Overwatch 1. While the reviews by Chinese gamers feature similar complaints about Overwatch 2 as their Western counterparts, there’s a big reason as to why this once extremely popular multiplayer shooter game has made such a bad impression in China. The key reason behind Chinese gamers’ discontent with Activision Blizzard’s latest offering is the suspension of the NetEase-Activision partnership.
End of Blizzard-NetEase partnership triggers negative reviews for Overwatch 2 in China
In January 2023, Activision Blizzard announced that they were discontinuing their partnership with NetEase, which happens to be the second largest video gaming company in China. NetEase was a key player, responsible for the distribution of all Blizzard games in China. The abrupt breakup of these two companies resulted in Chinese players losing access to their Blizzard accounts as well as to the developer’s games. This had certainly angered the large gamer base of China as they lost all of their hard-earned progress in some of their favorite titles.
According to research by Nico Partners, before the end of the Blizzard-NetEase partnership, Overwatch and World of Warcraft were amongst the most popular multiplayer games in China. The suspension of player accounts caused a sudden drop in the number of players for these games and paved the way for Overwatch 2’s failure in China. However, once the game was released on Steam, players from China were able to participate in online gameplay once again, which can be traced as the cause of such a high number of downloads for Overwatch 2 in China. However, the experience wasn’t as seamless as the Chinese gamers had expected or even previously experienced.
Overwatch 2: Key player complaints
Apart from Chinese gamers, gamers across the globe have also reported various issues. The major complaint is the omission of the dedicated PvE hero mode promised by Blizzard prior to the game’s release. Furthermore, many players have reported that Overwatch 2 is just a way for Blizzard to gain more revenue, leveraging their once-popular title. A lot of disappointment stems from the increasing number of microtransactions in-game and the attempt of the developer to force players into buying more and more stuff using real money. A disappointed gamer has stated in their review on Steam which sums up the popular sentiment regarding the game right now: “Overwatch 2 has no respect for you. It’s an attempt to pry open your wallet while masquerading as the game it used to be.”
Overwatch 2’s Steam release on August 10 finally enabled Chinese players to get their hands on popular online shooter games. However, owing to the dearth of regional servers, their gameplay experience has been severely hampered. Additionally, Chinese gamers have to create new accounts, losing all of their previous progress, which has obviously angered dedicated gamers who had invested a significant amount of time and money in Blizzard games. Many Chinese gamers have reported slow login times, increasing amounts of lags in gameplay, and the lack of seamless online gameplay. And it seems like not all gamers have forgotten Blizzard’s betrayal and many are angry with the developer’s decision to stop supporting online gameplay in China.