Overwatch: All The Summer Games Skins (And All The Summer Games Loot Drama)

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Overwatch Summer Games

Given all the kerfuffle over the Overwatch [official site] Summer Games skins I logged back in to check out the focus of the ire – the loot boxes. There’s some cool stuff in there and people are annoyed because there’s no sure-fire way to get what you want even if you have the time or inclination to earn loot boxes by leveling up or try to throw money at the problem.

I’ve made a gallery of all the skins that are part of this event so you can get an idea of what players are going after – you can scroll through the pictures by clicking the arrows on the side of the images or by hitting the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard. BUT! read on for the explanation of said kerfuffle:

See, it’s a time-limited event so the Summer Games loot will go away after 22 August. There’s also no way to guarantee that you’ll get the item drop you want by throwing money at the problem and buying a warehouse-worth of loot boxes because, although each of the seasonal loot boxes will contain at least one of the Summer Games-themed items, you might just end up with a bunch of duplicate bits and bobs. Oh, and there’s the additional irritant that the special loot boxes are only available for cash and not earned in-game credit so if you want to up your chances of getting a Stars and Stripes poncho/scarf for McCree without pouring extra hours into the game it’ll cost you.

Jeff Kaplan’s response on the official forums to all of this is here but the gist of what he says is that Blizzard see this as a nice, free time-limited event with a fun game mode and stuff you can get free as drops which is intended to make the event feel special. He also adds:

“We wanted to try something new with this event. As we mentioned in the Developer Update, we’re learning and experimenting with this event. And if the event is received well (my impression so far is that it is being received well once you remove the debate over the items not being available for credits), we will run it again next year. Our Summer Games are on a yearly schedule — not a 4 year schedule. Our plan would be to have the items available again when the event recurs. Perhaps we add new content to it as well? We’re not sure yet… we’re seeing what works and what doesn’t.”

I think one interesting summary of the situation comes from a forum user called Kat who posted this:

“I don’t buy loot boxes. I won’t ever buy them since it’s all fluff you can earn free. But events like these aren’t meant to hand out all the skins to anyone with cash. It’s likely meant as a grind to keep people engaged with the game. Realistically, if anyone’s first thought was to throw money at new skins rather than try to earn them through playing, that’s kind of an issue unto itself. Not one to discuss here though.

“They provided new content for people to earn. If whale’s want to throw money at it for a greater chance at the -random- items, they have that right. Otherwise, no. It shouldn’t be a cash grab where people who can spend $10/50/100 get whatever they want, and those who can’t have to work for their loot boxes. What people want to gamble on is their choice though, and it’s a genuinely fair way for Blizzard to continue making a profit, and with that, make more content for players to earn/use/etc.”

I don’t agree entirely because I do think that there are elements in the implementation that push people towards making purchases – skins are definitely a desirable in-game thing and the fact you can only get them for a limited time means there is an incentive to look for ways to boost your odds of getting them, particularly if your gaming time is also limited. Cash is the only way of doing so and the duplicates possibility means there’s theoretically no ceiling on what you might be tempted to spend.

Obviously this isn’t to deny the need for people to be able to manage their own finances and take responsibility for those decisions, but there is desirable content here and I do think there’s some onus on developers to make sure that isn’t being exploited, even if it’s unintentional.

On the other side, I think there’s also a particular attitude being exemplified across these Summer Games discussions which also comes up in discussion of the Hitman ‘elusive targets’. That somehow time-limited events where not everyone can get the reward are screwing over the player by default. I don’t think the implementation of either has been perfect, but I do also think there’s a place in games for cool stuff that not everyone can have for one reason or another.

As a final point, I do like what Valve do with Dota 2’s loot boxes nowadays and that might be a good example for Blizzard to take inspiration from*. They have a system where you are guaranteed to get a different item each time you open them from the list of standard rarity things the treasure chest might contain. After you’ve got all of those it’ll just drop you random duplicates. The chests also have the chance to contain rarer items – there’s a far lower chance of you getting those and they’re exempt from being a guaranteed eventual drop so if you did want them you’d either have to get lucky, wait and buy them on the marketplace, get a lucky friend to gift them to you, or throw money at chest after chest hoping for a result**. It feels like it has a decent mixture of guaranteed results and those rarer trophy pieces.

To see all the skins (don’t make me go through all the sprays and other bits and pieces!) just hit the right arrow key on your keyboard and take a look. I think I’ll definitely put in some effort over the weekend and see if I can get the Zarya skins or maybe the Symmetra ribbon emote, but if not I’ll probably shun the loot box approach. I’m definitely over my main “excited about digital wizard hats” phase.


**Get your mind out of the gutter!


  1. Geebs says:

    It’s a far cry from the days when everybody picked one character because their hitbox was a bit smaller.

    We need a word for digital materialism. Ephemeralism?

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      keithzg says:

      I’m not even necessarily against what Blizzard is doing here, but I kindof want to double-down on my mixed feelings and start agitating against it just so I can call myself a Dialectical Ephemeralist.

  2. ran93r says:

    I whaled up and grabbed 11 boxes a couple of days ago.
    Pulled out skins for Lucio, Torb, Mercy and one of the Tracers (not the one I wanted though).
    I haven’t really played the game much since launch and in theory I should be able to get free level up boxes pretty quickly, I just can’t be arsed.

    I’m the problem aren’t I?

    • 4026 says:

      Good grief. I am highly jealous. I’ve avoided Whaling, primarily on the logic that I was on level 99 when the event started, so I had fairly easy access to some rapid loot box acquisition. I’ve probably opened 9 or 10 loot boxes since then, though, but mine have all just been a parade of Summer Games sprays and player icons.

    • aksen says:

      yes, you and your 11 boxes are part of the problem!

      *quietly hides the evidence of his much higher total loot boxes bought as soon as the summer thing launched*

      sigh…i am a sucker.

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    Qazinsky says:

    I honestly do not understand how this turned into such a big fuss, or how they can describe it as “trying something new”.

    Items dropping within a limited timeframe has been done time and time again for years now. Off the top of my head, TF2 has their halloween skins that drops randomly and can only be gotten during a specific time window, Marvel heroes has some recurring events that drop things you can’t get otherwise.

    Hell, doesn’t Blizzards own World of Warcraft have at least a Christmas and Easter event working pretty much like this?

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      Qazinsky says:

      I just want to clarify that I see no problem with complaining about stuff you feel are wrong, I mearly meant that I do not understand why this particular case got so much ire when all the other similar cases just got minor grumbling in comparison.

      • Geebs says:

        It feels to me as if people have been so effectively trained in the ways of artificial digital scarcity that they’re no longer able to enjoy a bit of harmless fun. That makes me a bit sad.

      • pepperfez says:

        Two of those games are free. Overwatch is a full-price retail product, so it’s understandable that players will be annoyed at being asked to gamble real money on features.

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          keithzg says:

          It actually raises the question if, long-term, it may have been better for Blizzard to have gone with F2P for the initial price, because they certainly do intend on ingame purchases to be a recurring revenue stream for them, but that people paid full price upfront will doubtlessly continue to cause ire in reaction to their pursuit of F2P-style monetization atop that.

    • sosolidshoe says:

      Frankly I don’t give a hoot about the time limited items, I’m annoyed that this is a pretty transparent attempt to further dilute the chances of getting an actual skin of any sort.

      I’ve yet to get a single rare skin for any character(nor enough duplicate items to buy one), it’s been a sea of voice lines, sprays, and stupid poses, and now for the next month they’ve dumped *even more* such bollocks into the RNG, and even better the Summer Game *skins* are even more worthless than normal skins if you don’t find them appealing, because statistically speaking you’re never likely to see a duplicate so they’re not even a potential source of currency.

      I think the basic idea of microtransactions is rubbish, but frankly if we’re going to get them I’d rather just pay actual money for the actual thing that I actually *want* rather than being subject to these cynical RNG lootboxes. If you want people to keep playing your game, make it a good game rather than trying to engineer people’s behaviour to keep grinding away.

  4. Xocrates says:

    “Blizzard see this as a nice, free time-limited event with a fun game mode and stuff you can get free as drops which is intended to make the event feel special”

    The problem with this line of argument (and pretty much any defense I’ve seen to the loot box system) is that is assumes that people do not actually care what they get so long as they get something. It treat all the loot as pointless fluff that’s not actually desirable per se.

    The problem then becomes that every customization you or other players use feels neither special, unique or meaningful.

    An example of what I mean: Mercy is one of my favourite champs, as well as one of my most played. As a result I wanted a skin for her to both make my Mercy feel more special, and to show other players that, yes, I do enjoy playing Mercy.

    So obviously, I got a legendary skin for a champ I’ve never use, a duplicate legendary skin that I do not actually enjoy or use for another champ, before actually getting any random drop skin for Mercy – which happened after I had (randomly) amassed enough Gold to unlock a skin I actually wanted.

    At no point of the process did actually getting the skin feel like a reward that was earned.

    I really wish Blizzard stopped pretending that getting the skins did not matter. It would honestly prefer if the skins were only available as paid microtransactions as opposed to what’s a very clearly unsatisfying Skinner box of an unlock system.

    Make a good game and I’ll play it. I don’t need the extra fluff. But don’t hang stuff just out of my reach while claiming I can totally get it if I try hard enough.

    • Lamb Chop says:

      They could link core legendary skins with character-specific stats..though I can see why they prefer not to, as it would encourage people to stick to one class when they really want people to embrace the diversity and handing out a legendary skin for an unplayed class encourages people to switch over and try it. Honestly, you’ll get a couple thousand gold over the first 100 levels that’ll let you buy your two to three favorite legendary skins to kit out your most used characters. Because of the way these skins (time-limited and not) are distributed they absolutely are not signals to other players of your relative skill or commitment to them and adding real money options just further devalues that.

      • Xocrates says:

        They don’t need to link it to specific character achievements, they only need for there to be a way to work towards it. The simplest solution would be to get gold per game played, which would mean you could get stuff you wanted on a predictable cadence.

        Also, 100 levels is a lot. We’re talking some 200 hours of gametime, which is more that I, and many people stick with a game. It should not take longer than the time to 100% Skyrim before getting to that point.

        “Because of the way these skins (time-limited and not) are distributed they absolutely are not signals to other players of your relative skill or commitment to them”

        Which is exactly what I complained about. Which is why I said I preferred microtransactions instead of the current system, not in addition to it (it would still be a dick move in a 40€ game, mind).

        • SingularityParadigm says:

          “Also, 100 levels is a lot. We’re talking some 200 hours of gametime”

          What? That is waaaay off. Including both QuickPlay and Competitive, I have 154 hours into the game, and I am account level 161. That is only 57min per level on average, and even we assume I was in a group for all of it (which I wasn’t) and recalculate without the 20% group xp bonus, it would still only be 1hour 9min per level. It is impossible for it to take 2hr game time per level unless Blizzard makes significant changes to the Overwatch account experience system.

          • Xocrates says:

            The 200h figure was admittedly a bit inflated, though I was under the impression that it took me between 1h30m to 2h to level up. Checking on my stats I’m at level 68 with 65 hours of play, which correcting for the faster first few 20 levels should average for a bit above an hour per level.

            Granted, it’s not the 200 hours, but it should still take me about as long as my time on skyrim (113 hours, though not 100%)

        • Wormerine says:

          Wut? I am level 75 with 65 hours of playtime. You can easily get a full level in under an hour.

    • pepperfez says:

      Pretending the real-money loot doesn’t matter is necessary to the “premium” model. After all, if it matters, then most players are being deprived of part of the game. In fact, basically every player is being deprived, because only the very most cetacean of consumers will buy every last article.

      So you act like the costumes are nothing, and that you’re not encouraging anyone to spend money on nothing, and then just shrug when players hand over heaps of money for “nothing.”

  5. DarkPenfold says:

    There are a few skins, emotes, and victory poses I’d love to get during the event (the Zarya skins and Winston’s victory pose in particular), but I’m not going to tear my hair out if the RNGods aren’t kind.

    I agree with Blizz’s stance that these kind of event-specific unlocks are supposed to be ‘delighters’ in the long run – the idea being that when you’re playing in, say, January next year, you’ll come across someone with a Tracer Track & Field outfit and remember the buzz around the event.

    As such, I’m not fussed that specific items cannot be bought with stockpiled credits or whatever – but the only real change I’d make for limited-run items is that for the duration of the event, dupes are re-rolled for another event item in the same class (or the next one up, if you happen to have unlocked all the ones for that tier).

  6. batraz says:

    So we are on the verge of war and people whine about free digital ponchos ? Maybe that’s what we should fight for, I don’t know.

    • lasikbear says:

      So we are on the verge of war and people whine about random strangers’ opinions on free digital ponchos ? Maybe that’s what we should fight for, I don’t know.

  7. Menthalion says:

    Normally you get currency from rolls and duplicates in your bought/played for Loot boxes. This currency is meant so you can save up and buy specific cosmetics, and are advertised this way.

    This currency for a lot of people was what made the RNG loot box system acceptable over outright buying of skins like in LoL. Saving up would give you the option to buy the skins you wanted.

    Now for this event, they invalidated this currency. So either paying or playing is nowhere near enough to get you skins you want or can use. Neither are they tradeable.

    So the only way to get what you want is plonking down 100-200 $ for skins.

    • Menthalion says:

      Plonking down 100-200$ for loot boxes I meant to say. There’s not even a way of playing for the amount of loot boxes in the time the event lasts for.

  8. svr says:

    Blizzard deserves all the heat for this. They said all cosmetics would be purchasable with credits – for some greedy reason that doesn’t apply to these items. On top of that they removed the forum thread where this statement was made but later restored it after even bigger outcry started.

    • Leprikhan says:

      I dunno. I’m effortlessly sitting on 4k gold with nothing I’d like to spend it on. Had the event items been available for credits I’d have instantly had every item that I might kind of want and the limited time loot boxes would involve 0 intrigue to me- I gotta admit I prefer it this way.

      I just don’t get why there’s any fuss at all. I don’t see why this is milking, but then I’ve never had even the slightest inclination to purchase a loot box. Cosmetics are just cosmetics! I couldn’t force myself to care whether they’re difficult to get or not.

  9. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    Went full whale for this one (I really like a lot of the new items) and got a bunch of cool stuff , though still no Tracer skin unfortunately. Guess I’ll have to get that one the old fashioned way, or not at all.

    I certainly do understand the people’s frustrations, but ultimately if this is what lets Blizzard continue pumping out free updates for years, I’m fine with it. Hopefully the skins in the next seasonal event won’t cater quite so specifically to my tastes :p

  10. PancakeWizard says:

    Not authentic Rio 2016 skins though. No bullet holes or raw sewage.

  11. Zankman says:

    Why is Mercy’s chest so highlighted, is that how she normally looks like?

  12. Sir_Brizz says:


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      keithzg says:

      I do kind of dislike that there’s literally *one* skin she has where her pants aren’t skintight (that these costumes don’t change that is fine, since they’re Olypic athlete costumes after all, but you get my point).

  13. ElKevbo says:

    I don’t care about the loot except to the extent that if impacts gameplay. Color changes have little or no impact so I don’t care much about skins. But I think it’s a mistake for there to be skins that change the fundamental outline or shape of characters e.g., the capes for Tracer. It makes it more difficult to quickly identify characters when playing the game. This – creating distinctive outlines for characters – is one of the very best things that the developers of Team Fortress 2 did when initially creating their game. After a few years, they lost their while chasing monetization and it’s sad that Blizzard is immediately going down the same road with Overwatch. It’s especially surprising that Blizzard is doing this with their reputation for consistency and clarity in design and the user experience.

    • DarkPenfold says:

      The capes for Tracer don’t have that much of an impact on her outline – when she’s moving, the capes stream out behind her in a very similar way to the scarf from her ‘test pilot’ skin, meaning her silhouette is almost identical to the regular skins.

      I’ve probably played half a dozen hours against people who are using those new skins and it’s made no difference to how ‘readable’ she is in action.

    • 4026 says:

      To be fair, the “identifiable silhouettes” ship sailed for Overwatch back when the game shipped with a skin for Reaper not wearing the trenchcoat that normally defines his in-game silhouette and a skin for Soldier 76 in which he dons a trenchcoat that he doesn’t normally wear.

      • ElKevbo says:

        Yes, those make me sad, too. The first time I encountered that Reaper skin I honestly thought it was a new (to me) character or a failure on my part to recognize a character. Changing the outlines of existing characters and adding new ones is certainly a valid approach to designing a game and maintaining player interest over an extended period of time but doing both makes the game much more complicated especially for newer players. (Which, in turn, probably makes the player base smaller and more cliquey in nature. Or at least that’s my hypothesis as to why games like LoL have the reputation that they do and why I have no interest in learning how to play it at this point in its lifespan. And I’d hate for Overwatch to become like that, too.)

  14. Freud says:

    I’m generally fine with exclusive or time limited content but when combining it with loot boxes, it’s obvious that there is an element of whale hunting going on.

    If this specific content was only limited to loot boxes you get for playing, I would have liked it more.

  15. int says:

    Jag vill ha tre kronor! Men också Torbjörn skinnet.

  16. Mokinokaro says:

    One thing that Blizzard hasn’t made obvious unless you pay attention to the forums is that they plan on these summer games boxes to be a seasonal event. They’ll be back next summer (probably with some more items.)

    Which makes it obvious we’ll likely be seeing some fall/halloween and some winter holiday themed boxes in the future.

  17. montorsi says:

    I don’t mind. They want to hit me up for $20 every now and again, for a game I play at least a few times every week, that’s fine.

  18. Wormerine says:

    I really fail to see the problem. Also I was lucky and managed to get a skin for Lucio, which was the one I was really going for. Would be nice to get Tracers once as well. I don’t like default Lucio and Tracer legendaries.

    No, not everyone will get them. I probably won’t get most of them. And it is fine. The whole point of vanity items is that they are vanity only. If everyone would have every skin it would make skins meaningless. This is not CUSTOMIZATION. The point of you having a skin is that someone else will not.

    Though, I do get the argument that the game, which already costs money shouldn’t try to get more out of you. I do feel though that people are panicking way to early. The event launched couple days ago. You can easily get one level per day, if you play for an hour. The same happened at the launch. OMG ALL THE SKINS I CANT GET THEM ALL RIGHT NOW. No, you can’t. And you don’t need to. I am around level 70. Got most of the skins I really want (mostly bought with gold,) some legendaries I don’t even use, as the original designs are so good anyway. It is not a perfect system, but I like the idea of time limited events. This will make those skins special, if you have them.

  19. aircool says:

    I don’t think there’s an online game where I haven’t spent cash on vanity items… it’s kinda fun, especially when my awesome looking dude pops up on your death screen in Planetside 2.

    I can’t understand the fuss.. I really can’t. Loads of games, with all manner of funding methods have events where some RNG items are limited.

    If you make them available to everybody, even if using in game currency, they’re not ‘special’ anymore.

    Given that we’re talking about Overwatch… when was the last time anyone said ‘hey, that’s a cool looking skin that comes with the extra pricey version of the game’… I’d say at least a month ago (new players may feel differently, at least for now).

    So yeah, everyone running around in Tracers Olympic (except it isn’t) kit would soon get boring.

    Perhaps the worst thing about this whole debacle is that important issues (at least for me and approx 10% of the player base) such as the colourblind options (which are a fucking insult and absolutely useless) get buried.

    • Xocrates says:

      The problem is not, and it has never been, that you can’t get all the skins. The problem is that you get random shit instead of the stuff you actually want.

      I would be more than happy with being unable of getting all the skins if it meant there was some reliable way of getting the stuff I actually want.

  20. Foridin says:

    This part seems a bit misleading to me, since the boxes are available just like the normal boxes are – you get one every time you level up. The difference is that you can’t buy the items within for credits, but the boxes themselves are functionally identical to the standard ones.

    • Foridin says:

      Oh lord, I have no idea how I screwed up the formatting that badly, I guess that’ll teach me to use xhtml tags when I’m not sure what they do. What this comment was supposed to be referencing was the line “Oh, and there’s the additional irritant that the special loot boxes are only available for cash and not earned in-game credit.”

  21. DragonDai says:

    Timed events that not everyone can get everything from? That’s fine.

    Timed events where not everyone can get everything from unless they pay X dollars? Bullshit.

    This event is straight out of the F2P game’s handbook on how to wring every last penny out of your player base. Have items you can earn, making earning them hard and random, allow people to pay money for random shot at random item, make more money then you can count.

    This is a very simple, very pure money grab by Blizz. There’s no way to defend it as anything else.

  22. Zmobie says:

    I wonder if Zarya’s skins give an increase in speed, strength and/or agility. That’d be dope!