Overwatch’s new Anniversary Remix Vol. One event went live earlier this week. Vol. One is the first of three upcoming Anniversary Remix events this year.
The event introduced six “remixed” skins, which are new recolors of popular Legendary skins from past events, and brought back the seasonal brawl rotation as well as the ability to buy previous events’ limited-time cosmetics. While Blizzard announced the event with its usual level of fanfare, it also quietly said that Vol. One would take the place of Archives and Summer Games, the usual spring and summer in-game events.
Fans are, well, not happy—at all. The remixed skins are expensive despite being rehashes of older skins, and there are no new skins or other new cosmetics to speak of. There’s still no way to play seasonal brawl modes on demand. Instead, they rotate daily, like the way they did during previous Anniversary events. Players bemoaned the lack of Summer Games (and Archives, to a lesser extent) and all the new skins they felt they would miss out on. While some fans have said that they like the new recolors, the reaction to Anniversary Remix is generally negative.
Even though replacing what would normally be new Legendary skins with recolors and ramping down original activities for this year’s events is frustrating, it’s simply what happens to live games. Fans need to remember that Overwatch 2 is on the not-so-far horizon and that it’s OK for Blizzard to dedicate more resources to it than to an aging game whose player base is not nearly as large as it was during its peak. If we want the best Overwatch 2 possible, then we need to accept that the Anniversary Remix events as a necessary evil.
End of an era
Overwatch is on its last legs. Though Blizzard is known for the longevity of its live games, every game has to end somewhere to make room for sequels, remakes, spin-offs, and other content. It simply isn’t feasible for one development team to continue the same pace of new content that fans have become accustomed to for one game and develop an entirely new game from scratch at the same time, even for a developer as large and internally complex as Blizzard.
We’ve known this was coming since Overwatch 2 was announced. During the tumultuous years that followed, information about the game was scarce, to the point where it was unclear how long Overwatch would continue to be supported and how the two games would overlap. Now that the way forward is much clearer—at least according to the developer update released a few weeks ago—it makes sense that Blizzard would want to use the time remaining before Overwatch 2 hype takes over to allow players to earn some cool items in Overwatch. Skins, player icons, and other cosmetics will transfer over from the first game to the sequel, so it makes sense to give players multiple opportunities to buy all of the game’s coolest legacy skins—hence, multiple long-term Anniversary events.
Wouldn’t it be even more frustrating if Blizzard stopped updating Overwatch all at once instead of gradually ramping things down? While the Anniversary Remix events might seem frustrating, it’s still better than the sudden stop of all content and new releases. Overwatch is a game that many people, myself included, grew up with, to the point where new skins and events were big moments in my early adulthood. To see those events end with little to no fanfare would arguably be more hurtful than to see them gracefully exit over time.
Anniversary Remix isn’t nothing. We’re still getting “new” skins, even if they are recolors, and players have the chance to earn other limited-release cosmetics through the event’s weekly challenges. They’re still events, just not to the level that players are used to.
Let’s break it down
That isn’t to say that this Anniversary Remix is perfect, though. The recolored skins shouldn’t have been priced at 3,000 coins apiece, even if they are technically considered Legendary variants. (Despite the fact that I, and plenty of other players who I’ve seen, have more than enough coins to blow on skins and cosmetics from simply playing the game for years.) Players should also be able to choose from all of the seasonal brawls each day of the event rather than waiting on a daily rotation, though this would likely result in long queue times for each mode. While Anniversary events have always put seasonal brawls on a rotation, that doesn’t mean that Anniversary Remix shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to make things better.
Even so, I’ve seen players and fans accusing Blizzard of taking the easy way out or not putting its full effort into the Anniversary Remix skins. Of course it’s not putting all its effort into making new Overwatch skins. Overwatch 2 is right around the corner and is presumably a much bigger priority for most Blizzard developers. If they went all-out with new Anniversary skins, players would likely accuse them of not focusing enough on making Overwatch 2 a good game. We can’t have it both ways. Something has to give.
Dead on arrival
While most Blizzard games have enjoyed long and storied live periods with rich developer support, Overwatch isn’t the only game the company has shuttered. Heroes of the Storm fans have been dealing with confusing mixed messages, multi-month “events” and one patch every few months, and silent skin drops for years now after Blizzard abruptly pulled the plug on the game and its pro scene. After a shocking announcement that revealed the dramatic scaling back of the game’s development team, the game has effectively been in limbo for quite a while now.
I don’t think this kind of thing will happen to Overwatch, at least not right away. Heroes of the Storm was always Blizzard’s black sheep, a strange competitor to huge MOBA titles like League of Legends and Dota 2. Overwatch is more popular than Heroes of the Storm ever was, even at the latter game’s peak. All the same, Blizzard has dealt with paring down games’ support before, and to me, it looks like it’s already doing a better job with Overwatch than it ever did with Heroes of the Storm. Once Overwatch 2 comes out, it’s likely that Overwatch will follow a similar path as Heroes of the Storm, quietly ramping down events and leaving the game in a mostly stagnant state. But with Overwatch 2 out, who will really care?
We’ve reached Overwatch’s awkward in-between phase: We don’t yet have the shiny newness of Overwatch 2, but the original game doesn’t have all the bells and whistles it used to, leaving players adrift. I get it, I really do. Anniversary Remix might have been a bit of a blunder on the Overwatch team’s part, but I’m more than willing to give them leeway considering how close we are to getting what looks to be a thoughtfully developed, extremely fun-looking sequel. If we want to feel the same way we all felt when we jumped into our first Overwatch match all those years ago, we’ve got to accept the Anniversary Remix events.