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The Rarest Skins In Overwatch

Loot boxes and cosmetics changed the way many companies think about video game pricing, and few companies have taken advantage of the way we think about digital items like Activision Blizzard. The true numbers are carefully guarded, but GameSpot writes that the company made over $4 billion in 2017 on "DLC sales, loot boxes, and in-app purchases on mobile games" alone. We don't know a game-by-game breakdown, but it shouldn't be a stretch to guess that Overwatch was a huge force behind those numbers.

The Verge called Overwatch's loot box system "the gold standard" by which other shooters will follow. Overwatch players have shown, time and time again, that they love their skins and, generally, the rarer the better. Even if it is pure chance (or a massive amount of grinding) that unlocked something, gamers love to show off their shiny new toys.

Today, we're taking a look at some of those incredibly rare skins — the ones you may have never even been killed by. These skins were tied to special events or came with special purchases; in some cases, they will never be available in any form again. A few of these have since been made available through more conventional means — but some are going to get even more rare as time goes on.

Kerrigan Widowmaker brings together Overwatch and StarCraft

Blizzard loves their crossover events, and a big one for the company came in March of 2018: the celebration of StarCraft's 20th anniversary. Nearly every game on Battle.net was offering some sort of crossover reward, but the Overwatch bonus was the cream of the crop. It transformed everyone's favorite ashen sniper, Widowmaker, into StarCraft's heroic sniper, Kerrigan.

Granted, this version of Kerrigan is the one from before she transformed into the vicious Queen of Blades of later plot developments.

However, pre-transformation Kerrigan was a near-perfect fit for Widowmaker. Players had about one month to get the skin, and all they had to do was log in to Overwatch. As of this writing, Widowmaker's Kerrigan skin has not been made available through other means. Judging from Blizzard's past releases of items through events, it seems likely this one will get a conventional release in the future.

Weightlifter Zarya takes home the gold

The Olympic Summer Games only come around every four years, so Blizzard decided to mark the 2016 event with a special game mode and a whole slew of unlockable cosmetics. The 2016 games were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so the event highlighted Lucio (who hails from the country), but several other Overwatch characters got the treatment with sports-themed skins. One of the best is the Russian tank Zarya.

Some of the skins in the 2016 were epic rarities, but Zarya got two variations of a legendary skin for the event. "Champion" was solid, but did not really stand out. "Weightlifter," however, did everything we want out of a skin for the Russian behemoth: the idea matched her personality, the bright red color added a bit of flash to her otherwise stoic presence, and it showed off her massive muscles. Lucio may have been the poster boy for the event, but Zarya took home the gold.

Sprinter Tracer runs circles around everyone

Another legendary skin from the 2016 Olympic Games event, this one belongs to plucky British hero Tracer. Just like Zarya's Olympic skin, Sprinter Tracer checks all the boxes. Whereas Zarya is a physical beast, Tracer is the quickest and most agile fighter on the field. This makes her an ideal candidate to grab hold of her sprinter's spikes and grab the gold. With her blink ability, she'd practically be cheating at a sprint.

Not only does this skin fit Tracer's personality perfectly, but it also adds a little visual flourish that the best cosmetics always have. Pick Sprinter Tracer, and she'll start sporting a Union Jack flag as a cape, billowing behind her as she darts around the battlefield.

OWL away skins let you rep your team on the road

When Blizzard kicked off the Overwatch League (OWL), they wanted to make a big splash to show that they were serious about their push into esports for their squad shooter. What better way to do it than with hundreds of skins? Each character in the game got two skins for each of the twelve debut teams, a home and an away jersey. Just like with physical sports jerseys, the OWL skins are meant to help distinguish teammates quickly, both in-game and for spectators.

Every team's home jersey features their colors laid out in a particular pattern, whether it's black and gold for the Seoul Dynasty or blue and orange for the London Spitfire. However, the away uniforms are a bit different. They are almost entirely white, featuring accents of the official team colors for whichever uniform is picked. Outside of the Overwatch League, plain white clothes just don't flash that much — not usually what gamers want when they are showing off their latest grab from a loot box.

These skins were all initially only available from buying the official Overwatch League pass. They have since become available through conventional means.

Pink Mercy raised millions for a good cause

Occasionally, we need a friendly reminder that even giant corporations can do some good. Blizzard demonstrated this with the Pink Mercy skin, which was available only for a limited time and only through purchasing it directly. However, Blizzard promised that 100% of the profits made from sales of the skin would be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Furthermore, they promised that there would be a minimum donation of $250,000, even if nary a soul purchased the skin.

Since this is Overwatch, waaaaaaaay more than the minimum was raised.

When the fundraiser was all said and done, CNET writes that Blizzard donated $12.7 million dollars to the BCRF. Blizzard also sold limited edition shirts for $30 to help bolster their donation, but CNET writes that the vast majority of the donation came from sales of the skin. Not bad for a fundraising campaign that only went on for about two weeks.

Oni Genji tried to lure Overwatch players to Heroes of the Storm

Even with the power of Blizzard behind it, Heroes of the Storm was never quite able to rise to the levels of its big brothers, Dota 2 and League of Legends. Eurogamer writes that Blizzard appeared to throw in the towel on its MOBA in December of 2018, downsizing the development team and canceling several esports events they had planned. The year before, they had attempted to bolster its player count in HotS by offering some crossover skins with Overwatch.

All players had to do was play five games of Heroes of the Storm, once per week during the duration of the event. Every week, they could unlock some cool swag from other Blizzard games. For week one of the event, players could unlock the "Oni Genji" skin, along with an accompanying spray and icon. This skin gave the cybernetic ninja a demonic mask and slick, holographic belt buckle.

If players buckled in for another week of HotS matches, they could also unlock the next skin on our list.

Officer D.Va will take the case

For week two of the Heroes of the Storm crossover event, Blizzard had an offering for one of the game's most popular characters: MEKA pilot (and Doritos fanatic) D.Va. This one was even trickier to obtain, however. Unlike Oni Genji, which allowed players to simply battle in five matches with the AI, the Officer D.Va skin was asking players to take on five real HotS matches against actual players.

Considering MOBAs are known for being very unforgiving with fairly toxic communities, unlocking the Officer D.Va skin was no small task.

Even more strange, Mic writes that the Officer D.Va skin inspired some fan backlash, as some viewed it as a statement about police brutality in the United States. In completely unrelated news, D.Va is Korean; it seems unlikely that her police uniform is any sort of commentary on American culture.

Either way, both of these skins became available through conventional means about a year after the event, which surely perturbed gamers who went through the grind to obtain them. Nerf this, indeed.

Strike Commander Morrison reveals the game's backstory

If you sprung for the deluxe edition of Overwatch, dubbed Overwatch: Origins Edition, then you received a slew of additional content along with the game itself. The big draw came from five exclusive skins, which showcased some of the more central characters to the game's lore. Each of these skins is pretty impressive, dramatically altering the way these popular characters look.

Tracer, Bastion, Pharah, and Reaper all had skins included in the Origins Edition, alongside "Strike Commander Morrison," a complete overhaul of Soldier: 76. Bedecked in a blue trenchcoat and sporting a futuristic eyepiece, Morrison is a throwback to the extensive lore of Overwatch.

For those not in the know, Morrison was the first official commander of the Overwatch team. After supposedly dying and being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, he resurfaced as the ultimate warrior known as Soldier: 76. It's kind of a complicated story, but early adopters of Overwatch could outfit their characters as some of their lore-based counterparts.

Demon Hunter Sombra is a Diablo crossover

Now we're getting to some of the big timers: the legendary skins that a very small percentage of players have due to their event-limited nature and (generally) high associated cost. Blizzard has made a point to offer special, in-game incentives for their dedicated fans who purchase tickets for BlizzCon. Let's start with the most recent: Sombra's BlizzCon 2018 exclusive skin is a crossover with Diablo, decking the hacker out as a Demon Hunter. It's a pretty slick look overall, very similar in flavor to the Kerrigan Widowmaker skin that celebrated StarCraft's 20th anniversary.

For the patient, however, Demon Hunter Sombra may not wind up being as rare as the other BlizzCon skins that we'll get to. PC Gamer writes that Blizzard has already said that Sombra's Diablo-inspired skin will be made available through conventional means sometime in the future. If you can wait for it, you'll be able to boop in style without shelling out for the BlizzCon ticket.

BlizzCon Winston will cost you a pretty penny

If a Mexican hacker cosplaying as Diablo's Demon Hunter doesn't do it for you, then how about a BlizzCon-themed, hyper-intelligent ape? BlizzCon 2017's exclusive skin offering was for Winston, and it decked him out in a blue BlizzCon armor set to let everyone know you were the ultimate fan. This is where Overwatch skins start to roll into the realm of "ridiculous" as far as what you will need to pay if you want to obtain this skin now.

Since the only way to get the BlizzCon 2017 exclusive goodies, including the Winston skin, is through purchasing a ticket for an event that happened in the past, you're out of luck unless you hit the secondary market to find a ticket with a code that has yet to be used. And these skins demand a high price; a quick search of eBay shows a few for sale at the time of this writing. They'll just set you back over $200. That's a lot of money for a virtual outfit for one character in an online game. Surely they don't get more expensive than that, right?

But BlizzCon Bastion will cost you even more

Oh, you sweet summer child. You thought $200 for a blue-bedecked monkey was as deep as this rabbit hole goes? Buckle up: rewind a year before that, to BlizzCon 2016, and the world of expensive video game skins gets even crazier.

Let's just start with it: BlizzCon 2016 tickets came with an exclusive skin for Bastion, and a cursory look through eBay shows that unclaimed codes from this event sell for between $900 and $1000. This code comes with loot for nearly every game on Battle.net, but most people who would pick it up at this point would be doing it for the Bastion skin.

Granted, it's a pretty awesome skin: a blinged-out Bastion, all reflective and cold. That said, the BlizzCon ticket was $40 before the event, and even Bastion mains can find a better way to spend $900 now, right? Considering how many times Blizzard has reworked the tanky robot, it would be hard to assume things about Bastion at this point.

Noire Widowmaker takes you back to day one in Overwatch

There were five exclusive skins included in Overwatch: Origins Edition, but there was one more exclusive skin that required an even bigger commitment. The only way to obtain the "Noire Widowmaker" code was by pre-ordering the Origins Edition. Players who did received a second special code with the game to unlock the unique skin for the world's best sniper.

The "Noire" skin decks Widowmaker out in a bright red corset and a massive nest of dreadlocks. It's striking, considering that most of Widowmaker's looks are fairly subdued. Doesn't really fit for a sneaky sniper, but definitely fits with the spider motif.

It's tough to think of it now, but Overwatch seemed like a pretty big jump for Blizzard back in the day. A squad-based, first-person shooter from the company best known for action-RPGs like Diablo, MMOs like World of Warcraft, and real-time strategies like StarCraft was not a surefire hit. Pre-ordering any title is risky, but these facts make the Noire Widowmaker skin one of the rarest roaming the wilds in Overwatch.

If you encounter it during a game, you're either playing someone who has had Overwatch for a very long time, or someone who shelled out big bucks to get a code after the fact. Either way, it's someone who is really into Blizzard's shooter.