Sony has insisted it is not profiting from sales of the Overwatch pink Mercy skin after a player outcry over the amount of money donated to Breast Cancer Research.
This week, Blizzard unveiled a new limited-time Pink Mercy skin for Overwatch, with all proceeds raised going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. At least, that's what we were told.
"From May 8-May 21, Blizzard Entertainment will donate 100 per cent of the purchase price for your purchase of the Pink Mercy skin on Xbox to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Blizzard Entertainment will disclose the total amount of its donation following the end of the campaign."
It didn't take long for players to notice the wording on the PlayStation Store's listing for the skin was slightly different.
"From May 8-May 21 2018, Blizzard Entertainment will donate £10.12, or local currency equivalent, that it receives from PlayStation for your purchase of the Pink Mercy skin to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Blizzard Entertainment will disclose the total amount of its donation following the end of the campaign."
The PlayStation Store listing suggests £2.87 of the £12.99 wouldn't be donated by Blizzard to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Why? Where's the money going?
This tweet, from Bleacher Report's Nick Akerman, gained traction on social media for pointing out the troubling discrepancy.
Pretty disgraceful from Sony. Taking a 22% cut from each purchase of Overwatch?s Mercy Breast Cancer Research charity skin. 100% goes to charity on Xbox and PC. Games media needs to report this. pic.twitter.com/ZCIiHgKcpy— Nick Akerman (@Nakerman) May 9, 2018
Eurogamer asked Sony for an explanation, and this morning a rep provided us with the following statement:
"We are not making any profit from sales of Overwatch Pink Mercy Skin."
That sounds pretty clear cut, but it does not explain where the £2.87 is going. (We followed up with Sony but are yet to receive a response.)
So, speculation time! As others have pointed out, this may have something to do with value added tax (VAT). It's worth noting that the Xbox Game Store listing for the skin says it costs £12.79 incl. VAT (it's a little cheaper on Xbox One).
Similarly, the Blizzard Store listing carries the bullet point: "Any applicable VAT included." However, there's no mention of VAT on the PlayStation Store's listing.
The Overwatch skin kerfuffle rekindles memories of a Shadow of War DLC publisher Warner Bros. was criticised for when it emerged not all purchases contributed to the family of a Monolith developer who passed away ahead of the game's launch last year. It emerged the company would only donate money from purchases of the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC made from most of the states in the US.
Then, Warner issued a similar statement to Sony's, insisting "Neither Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment nor Monolith Productions will profit from any sales of the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC regardless of the territory in which that DLC is sold."