Soldier 76 Is Gay. Why Now?

Another Blizzard short story reveals a second gay character in the Overwatch series and this time, it’s everyone’s favourite dad, Soldier 76. Naturally, the gaming press is going bananas over this. Color me shocked. However, I have a much different reaction to this “incredible” revelation…

…Meh.

It’s a little late, to be honest. I mean anyone with half a brain can figure that this is nothing more than an attempt from Blizzard to make Overwatch a little more relevant again. The game is over 3 years old now, there are a ton of other games taking attention way from Overwatch and people are getting bored of playing the same game over and over again, no matter how many new characters they add. Hell, I’m not seeing nearly the amount of fan art (yes, including porn) than I’m used to seeing from the series. It’s very clear that Overwatch is no longer the juggernaut it was in its first two years of release.

It’s not to say it’s a bad thing, whether I’m talking about Soldier 76 being gay, or Blizzard attempting to stay relevant, both things are ultimately fine. However, the question I’d have to ask is why now? Why so late into this game? Tracer’s reveal was pretty much as late into the game as I thought it should get, it was at the tail end of Overwatch’s peak popularity and it was essentially the game’s most beloved character. Everything made sense then, but this reveal just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t think there’s any other way to say it, but I don’t think there was ever a plan to make Soldier 76 a gay man from the very get-go. I think this was a calculated decision made by Blizzard and the Overwatch team as a way to gain some relevancy back as the game is experiencing its first true noticeable decline. And just like how Tracer was the best choice for gay character #1, Soldier 76 from what I estimate was the second choice in terms of popularity. If this had been say…Hanzo, then maybe I could believe this was something they were deliberating over long before the reveal. But Soldier 76? Another really popular character? Yeah, that sounds planned last minute more than long-term.

And to be clear, I’m not against this reveal, there’s no stake in me being against this, it’d be silly to say I had one. My issue is with the timing. Like I said, I don’t think this was a choice that had been done at the time the game was being first produced, I think this was a choice made whenever they recently looked at their numbers and realized they needed to do something to get back in the news.

So let’s not pretend this is some amazing revelation, shall we? It’s not a well-thought out story, it’s not a long-term planned out character arc, and I’m not even fully convinced it’s a decision made for the LGBT community.

What it definitely is, is a marketing ploy.

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