Overwatch 2 is celebrating Pride, but not everyone can join
Blizzard’s hit hero multiplayer game Overwatch 2 has taken its previous game’s community by storm since its initial 2022 release. From its bustling playerbase to its wide variety of personality-driven characters, it is no wonder that Overwatch 2 remains one of today’s most played games online. The team behind the iconic shooter has announced the game’s upcoming Pride event in celebration of the LGBT community, but it seems that some players will unfortunately be left out of the festivities.
Starting June 1, Overwatch 2 players will log onto their games and receive a variety of profile player icons and name cards celebrating various LGBT identities. Some will be styled after the game’s own queer heroes, with a lesbian card for Tracer, a gay card for Soldier: 76, a bisexual card for Baptiste, a lesbian card for Pharah, and a pansexual card for Lifeweaver. These Pride-specific cosmetics are not the only things to feature Baptiste and Pharah, as a brand new short story is set to be published regarding the two and their identities.
Fans have speculated the two heroes’ identities and sexualities for a while now, and this is Blizzard’s way of confirming players’ theories. The developers want to make Pride feel just as special in-game as it does in real life, with all of the celebration and none of the negativity. Sadly, however, even a fantasy world cannot avoid the bigotry present within in our own, it seems.
Senior game producer Brandy Stiles has stated that the Pride content will be “opt-in,” meaning that players can choose whether or not they want to openly celebrate. Players from certain regions where anti-LGBT laws are in place will not be able to opt-in at all, though. On the situation, Blizzard has said that it is their “responsibility to help protect people” and “follow the laws in countries that we operate in.”
While none of the blocked countries have been openly named by the company yet, likely contenders include Russia and Saudi Arabia, where similar games and in-game events have been called off. Thankfully, though, Blizzard is doing its best to support LGBT people otherwise, with all Pride-themed apparel sale proceeds going on to be donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality. To participate in the cause, fans can head over to the Blizzard Gear Store to see the new Pride-themed apparel.
As a queer gamer myself, I am happy to see Pride being celebrated throughout the communities of beloved games so widely, but I am also deeply saddened by the region locks on such events. Something that immediately comes to mind for me is how the Sims 4 wedding expansion did not release in Russia or how Final Fantasy 16 is being banned from launching in Saudi Arabia. Both of these instances not only disappointed me, but made me uncomfortable, too. I do understand that developers have their hands tied, I just wish the world could be different.
If you consider yourself a dedicated Overwatch 2 fan, you can have a browse through some other great FPS games while waiting to celebrate Pride. You can also look at some of the best superhero games on PC if you want to experience a new kind of save-the-day story.