'Overwatch' Sombra Still Not Released, Was The ARG A Waste Of Time?

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ARG, or alternate reality games, can blend the real world and gaming seamlessly. Companies have been constantly trying to get people excited about their new releases by having real world events tied to their video games, movies and even music.

Some of these viral marketing campaigns have been amazing, like that one time “Jokerized” dollar bills were handed out at San Diego Comic-Con. Calling a number on the bill led players to one of the most insane scavenger hunts ever devised. Others have been huge disappointments, like in 2011, when Sony tried marketing the PSP by creating a fake blog about two generic hipsters doing anything to get the handheld for Christmas.  

Overwatch , Blizzard’s impossibly fun shooter, has been leading players in an ARG filled with hackers, code cracking and nuclear explosions. Currently in its fifth month, fans are starting to get a little tired of what feels like a wild goose chase to find the game’s next hero, Sombra.

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The leaked Sombra image from Monday Photo: Imgur

In the Overwatch universe, Sombra is a Mexican hacker who has some shady history with the other heroes in the game. After months of deciphering her clues, that’s still all we know about her. It feels a lot like this game was a waste of time.

The Disappointment With A Nuclear Meltdown

Nov. 1 was supposed to be the day that the Sombra ARG came together. Hidden throughout the codes and files were mentions of the date, hints something huge was going to happen. There was even a post on the Blizzard site confirming that shit was about to go down. A website for a fake Mexican energy company that had been discovered by players, called Lumerico, had been feeding players clues through emails on fake employee accounts.

Sombra isn’t a fan of Lumerico and sees them as leeches on Mexico and the world. To get revenge and end the company, she wanted to destroy their energy supply. On Nov. 1, tens of thousands of players logged into Lumerico’s admin terminal and helped Sombra break into the mainframe. Instead of turning off the power, she caused all seven of the company’s nuclear plants to melt down.

Over the course of two hours, fans waited for a nuclear explosion. On special Overwatch Discord servers, fans discussed what was going to happen when the nuclear reactor reached 100 percent. Would the Dorado map in Overwatch change at all? Are there any in-game items Blizzard is going to give us? Most of all, will Sombra be released? So when that gauge hit 100 percent, what happened? Well, kind of nothing.

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From one of the many twitch streams that followed the Overwatch ARG on Nov. 1 Photo: Twitch

A message from Sombra appeared on the Lumerico admin page, thanking players for their tutelage and promising a “gift.” That “gift” was an in-game spray of a pink skull. We didn’t get Sombra, a skin or anything even interesting. The payoff was underwhelming at best. Reddit and Discord were supposed to have an event of their own, but the servers couldn’t handle the massive load of players, so it was cancelled.

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The discord mods telling the Overwatch community what happened Photo: Gyazo

Reddit exploded in angry threads, filled with players who expected more. In the thread “I entered with no expectations for today but left disappointed” by cmr333, the user says: “This whole Sombra ARG is a fucking joke and the amount of effort put into this could've been used on the game.” The biggest complaint on the boards has to be that the ARG really didn’t do anything.

Fans truly believed Sombra was going to be revealed depending on how the ARG played out. Turns out, the hacker wasn’t going to be revealed until Blizzcon, Blizzard’s own convention that starts this weekend. Why bother with the ARG if nothing was going to happen in the first place?

Sombra ARG: Was It Really That Bad?

Fans are pretty emotional right now, and rightfully so. Getting led all over the place, solving puzzle after puzzle and waiting weeks at a time for simple countdowns to go down feels a lot like wasted time. Blizzard didn’t have to do this and some believe they shouldn’t have. It didn’t help that we already know what Sombra looks like because of a few leaks. It’s hard to hype something up as mysterious when it’s already been spoiled.

I hope Blizzard attempts an ARG again, maybe just not one this long. Last night, I had a ton of fun listening to fans discuss theories and solve puzzles on the Discord server. I really felt like I was a part of something magical, a whole community banding together to achieve a common goal. If Blizzard can get rid of the countdowns, unnecessary waiting and “guessing game” puzzles, they can really make something great.

I’ll be in the crowd at Blizzcon and if they don’t reveal Sombra, I might have to start hacking some computers to get some answers.


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