‘Overwatch 2’ transitions to free-to-play model, still wants all your money

Overwatch 2 is transitioning to a free-to-play model that will likely still end up costing players a significant amount of money.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the Overwatch 2 development team is finding a way to progress the game without losing existing players. This is a difficult situation that’s not unique to Blizzard’s hero shooter franchise, but rather a specific problem with popular multiplayer games.

As discussed in our Overwatch 2 feature, Blizzard were tasked with moving the game forward without leaving behind any of their loyal playerbase. One might expect fans of a game to immediately purchase a sequel, but the truth is many players either can’t or won’t.

overwatch 2 characters
Image: Overwatch 2 / Blizzard

While cost is often the most important factor here, it can also come down to system requirements or players not wanting to abandon their status. For example, more players (in some markets) still play StarCraft than StarCraft 2. Blizzard would rather Overwatch 2 doesn’t share a similar fate.

However, by making Overwatch 2 free-to-play, Blizzard are hoping to circumvent this issue entirely. And sure, while some players’ aging systems may hold them back for a while, it’s probably going to work.

What this shouldn’t be interpreted as though is any sort of altruism. Most gamers are already aware of the doublespeak involved with the free-to-play moniker, but there’s little harm in spelling it out: if they don’t get your dollars at the point of purchase they’ll likely get more further down the line.

It has been confirmed that Overwatch 2 will feature an in-game store (as opposed to loot boxes) and regular battle pass seasons. I’m a fan of this development; the store is at least a transparent system and the battle pass model allows players more control of their financial outlay than buying a game outright.

That said, the devil is in the details, as they say, and the way Blizzard integrate these systems will ultimately determine how ethical they are in practice. Let’s just hope they take a long hard look at the criticisms they’ve received regarding Diablo Immortal.

Overwatch 2 is set to be released October 4, 2022. It will be coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.