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Opinion: Overwatch’s Switch Port Proves a Need for Physical Copies

3 min read
You can’t return what’s digital. 

You can’t return what’s digital. 

The headline and the sub-header line summarizes the issues about the Overwatch’s Nintendo Switch. It also describes why an all-digital future is not worth going into fully.  It’s worth going through an exercise of why this is bad, the evidence of legislative bodies trying to combat it, and why we should all be wary of a digital all future.

Blizzard’s Overwatch is a very popular hero-based first-person shooter. Overwatch spawned multiple versions for different consoles, different merchandise opportunities, and eSports league all to itself. People also used Overwatch as a vector for political protest in the wake of the Hong Kong protests

Mei the Force be with Hong Kong from r/HongKong

Understanding this issue, the importance of having a good port, coming off a decent Diablo 3 port, for Overwatch could not be overstated.  Blizzard needed to push a salvage mission after the recent SNAFU Blizzard put themselves in for their Heartstone league when they stripped Blitzchung his winnings of before doing a partial reinstatement, and had a haphazardous apology to show for it after Blitzchung made pro-Hong Kong remarks on stream regarding the Hong Kong protests. 


It did not go well.


The port’s reception has been tepid at best and horrible at worst. Nicole Carpenter, from Polygon, showed off what is possibly one of the most damning images for a port. In this image, you can’t see any of the characters there, just red dots. That on top of the fact of the performance was horrible; 30 frames per second move made for actors on a 60 frames per second game that was released years ago. It shows that whoever was in charge of the port was hoping to either get it out and then patch the way through, or they didn’t put care into the work in the first place.

Those stuck with either with the digital or physical copy, you are somewhat in an SOL moment. Overwatch only comes in digital copy format, and digital purchases have a tenuous return policy. This issue occurs for American purchasers.  However, in Europe, movement about this issue is happening. For instance, we’ve seen government bodies like the UK  try to tackle this issue.  There are even signs in France of being able to resell your digital products.  These lead to various companies now changing their policies for refunds.

However, that won’t satisfy those who want to go to a store, buy a game and walk out, such as those buying Christmas gifts.  Thus, a need for physical copies. With the instability of codes being guaranteed to work on the first day, the fact that you cannot return to physical to the shop can create some burden.  Companies avoiding this issue with digital codes for a physical copy (including PC copies) need to either commit fully to physical or strictly be digital. 

Cynically, the protests against Blizzard may be why Blizzard canceled their Overwatch party at Nintendo New York this week.  Or more cynically, as wudboro, a commenter on Polygon said, “So that’s why they cancelled the launch party…

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