Other rewards are likely to take its place, though.

19:03, 24 Mar 2021

Whoops, that didn't go over too well with the audience. The Overwatch League (OWL) has announced that it's looking to discontinue rewarding the season MVP with a skin of a hero and theme of their choice. The news rolled out together with the release of 2020 season MVP Byung-sun "Fleta" Kim's Echo skin Good vs. Evil which according to the player was a metaphor for his opposing personalities in and outside the game, being calm in the practice room but aggressive on the server.

In a blogpost on the League's website, OWL shared that "this is the last time a skin will be made for the Overwatch League MVP." The community was quick to speculate on the reasons as to why Blizzard Entertainment decided to cut the reward after the seemingly enthusiastic reception of the first three MVP skins by the community. Some users on social media theorised that Blizzard had taken the step due to a lack of profit being generated from the sale of these skins or that it had been part of the cost-cutting that the League had recently undergone with more than 50 staff members being fired from the departments responsible for the Call of Duty and the Overwatch League. Others even speculated that the fallout of season 2 MVP Jay "Sinatraa" Won's sexual-assault allegation had swayed Blizzard away from immortalising extraordinary Overwatch esports performances within the main game. 

Other rewards could take its place

While the messaging of the discontinuation of the MVP skins coinciding with the other negative events in the Overwatch community certainly looks unfortunate, it is unlikely that the development team will completely neglect the achievements of pro players within their own esport. Indeed, the information surrounding the game's monetisation and rethinking of its systems for Overwatch 2 may suggest that an overhaul of skins as a whole are in order, potentially making room for different rewards for the season MVPs in other meaningful ways.

Since its release, Overwatch has had one of the least exploitative cosmetics systems among AAA developer titles, generally giving even casual players enough resources to fulfil their skin needs. It appears at least equally likely that with a potential move to free-to-play at least for the PvP portion of the game, a remodelling of the cosmetics system could also mean that an MVP skin as we know it could no longer exist and that rewards would have to fit the mould of the new structure. Different forms of rewards are also not out of the question.

Other developer's like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's Valve have counted on implementing mementoes of incredible esports moments in the form of graffiti on their maps at the specific locations on which an iconic play took place. The design choice of implementing real-world events in Overwatch maps has precedent, as the developer had placed a poster of late Overwatch pro player legend Dennis "INTERNETHULK" Hawelka on its map Eichenwalde. Furthermore, the team recently added a Junkrat spray called "Venomous by Leon" to its game, recognising an Australian fan suffering from a chronic illness for his Overwatch fandom.

Of course, the sky is the limit with potential ideas and suggestions of what kind of rewards we might see replace the season MVP skin after each season, though inferring that all rewards would be cut for the achievement appears unlikely. Blizzard Entertainment has so far made no statement regarding the community reception of the news.

Images via Blizzard Entertainment

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