It occured to me that after a year of playing Overwatch on the PlayStation 4, I've inadvertently raised the cost of buying a second PC version of the game thanks to all the money I've already spent on PS4 loot boxes. The whole situation is complicated by the fact that Blizzard still doesn't offer a unified account system for Overwatch players who might want to play on both PC and consoles. A decision that I fear will only hurt more the longer Overwatch continues.
Blizzard is currently celebrating Overwatch’s one-year anniversary, and I have friends who are playing on both PC and consoles. While I primarily play on consoles, I’ve always been meaning to pick up a PC version so I could be the best friend I can be. Now I fear I’ve waited too long on getting a second PC copy and find myself held back by the fact that many of my achievements–and more importantly, skins–from a year’s worth of Overwatch play on one system won’t jump with me if I decide to make a switch to PC.
A first-world problem I know, but an interesting dilemma nonetheless as Blizzard becomes a bigger part of the gaming landscape.
It's not as if cross-save capabilities don't already exist in other games. Final Fantasy XIV for example is a Triple-A game that gives players the luxury of swapping between the console to PC in a relatively easy manner. This is coming from a guy who started playing FFXIV on the PS3 before switching to the PC, and then switching a third time to a PS4 version of the game.
By contrast, the statements Blizzard issues to players asking whether or not they can bring their console saves with them to a PC version (or vice versa) feel like a step backwards:
"With both consoles and the PC version, each license is its own entity - including cosmetic items. This is mostly due to the fact that the data is saved on different servers (Xbox-Microsoft servers, Playstation - Sony servers, and PC - our servers). Since the data is directly attached to the license on that server, it isn't able to be transferred over to another platform because of the different servers storing that detailed information. With console, we don't even have a way to view your account level, cosmetic items, actions, or anything since it's stored on another company's personal server."
For a game like Overwatch where new events offer skins and loot that have become a major part of the game's appeal to fans, this response is diappointing.
Likewise a quick Google search for whether or not unified accounts are available for Overwatch will quickly unearth players undergoing something similar to the five stages of grief when faced with the possibility of losing their progress while considering a change in platform. Whether it's players reacting in frustration, or bargaining with Blizzard to let them pay for the opportunity to carry over with them their hard-earned loot, the desire for cross-save support clearly exists.
It’s also not as if Blizzard doesn’t recognize the value of promoting Overwatch across its many services and games. For example, Overwatch players on PC and console can both unlock special outfits like the recent Police D.Va skin by playing Heroes of the Storm during the special promotional period. The fact that a linked PSN or XBL account is all that's necessary to get console players the same goodies as PC players seems ridiculous when the function doesn't extend to the broader game.
As Overwatch enters its second year, it's interesting to consider whether or not the continued lack of a universal linked Blizzard account doesn't feel counter-productive to the game's growth. While Overwatch boasts a diverse player base across several different consoles, it's curious whether or not players will be limited by Blizzard's inability to overcome console barriers.
Overwatch will continue to grow and add more events, and hopefully bring in more players. But Blizzard offers options that only serves to entrench players into specific lanes without an opportunity to explore new ways to interact with the game, or each other.
And also, I want to have my Hanbok D.Va skin on PC.