Video Games

‘Overwatch 2′ To “Revisit” Established Characters’ Sexual Identities In Honor Of Pride Month

Given Blizzard’s history of using such reveals as a way to dodge attention over their own uncouth business practices, one can only wonder just what they may be trying to distract from this time with their recent announcement that as part of their various Pride Month celebrations, the Overwatch 2 team will be revisiting the sexual identities of some of the game’s already established characters.

Soldier: 76 (Fred Tatasciore) stands tall for Pride Month in Overwatch 2 (2022), Blizzard Entertainment

RELATED: Blizzard Entertainment Launches New LGBTQ+ Pride Merch Collection, Players Speculate Announcement Was Made To Deflect From ‘Overwatch 2’ PvE Cancellation News

As announced by the once-esteemed developer on May 30th, the month of June will see the hero shooter introduce a bevy of new, albeit light on substance, LGBT-supportive content.

Pharah (Jen Cohn) embraces her new lesbian identity in Overwatch 2 (2022), Blizzard Entertainment

These offerings include a set of free LGBT-flag player icons and name cards for all players, temporary updates to the Midtown and Watchpoint: Gibraltar maps – the former being reskinned to look as if players are fighting in the aftermath of a Pride parade and the latter adding a photo of Tracer with her girlfriend Emily into its barracks – and a new short story confirming that the characters of Baptiste and Pharah are bisexual and a lesbian, respectively.

Blizzard Entertainment also launched a new line of Pride-themed merchandise, the net proceeds of which are intended to be donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) at the end of the month.

Pharah (Jen Cohn) has a heart to heart talk with Baptiste (Benz Antoine) on Blizzard Entertainment’s cover to the Overwatch 2 short story ‘As You Are’ by Jen Stacey

RELATED: Blizzard Entertainment Announces Initiatives To Bring “Underrepresented Genders” To ‘Overwatch 2’ Competitive Teams And Casters

“We want Pride to be that for our players,” explained the developer in their official blog post announcing the content. “And just as important, we want that for ourselves. One thing we have heard from both players and Overwatch team members alike is that seeing themselves in the game over the years has helped them find the strength and courage to show the world who they are. We are a diverse development team and it’s important to us that the universe we are creating–the world that we pour our passion and energy into–represents us, and represents a world that we want to be a part of. The work that we are putting in front of the world is an extension of ourselves.”

“There is power in ensuring we all feel welcome not only in this game, but in the community that has rallied around it, and through that power we hope every person who ever logs in feels acceptance and comradery with Tracer, Soldier: 76, Baptiste, Pharah, Lifeweaver, and every other hero in unique and personal ways,” they wrote. “The world is worth fighting for, and in the words of Lifeweaver, ‘our strengths mingle’ so we are honored to fight alongside all of you.”

A photo of Tracer (Cara Theobold) and her girlfriend Emily appears in Watchpoint: Gibraltar as part of Pride Month celebrations in Overwatch 2 (2022), Blizzard Entertainment

Though not mentioned in the blog post, Overwatch 2 senior narrative designer Jen Stacey, senior game producer Brandy styles, and game director Aaron Keller would later confirm to various members of the gaming press that this year’s Pride celebration would also see a concerted effort by the dev team to go back and reassess some of the canon sexualities of the game’s straight characters.

“I think it’s important revisit older characters to show that the heroes that you know and love have more parts to them and some of these parts might be these identities,” Stacey told attendees, as quoted by Gamespot. “But also as we create new heroes that are connected to the queer community or other communities across the globe, we’re thinking about them as a whole person and every facet of them, including their identities.”

Tracer (Cara Theobold) celebrates Pride Month in Overwatch 2 (2022), Blizzard Entertainment

“We are moving forward now with a bit of a shift where we would like [LGBTQ+ representation] to be, not necessarily front and center, but a part of the representation and diversity in the game,” Keller added to his colleague’s point.

Though Blizzard did not confirm an end date for their in-game Pride-related map modifications, it is currently presumed that they will be removed at the end of June.

NEXT: Blizzard Officially Cancels ‘Overwatch 2’ PvE Plans After Previously Touting Them As The Game’s Major Selling Point: “We Can’t Deliver On That Original Vision”

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