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Why Overwatch 2 Going Free to Play Could Start a New Golden Era

On October 4th, Overwatch 2 becomes a free-to-play game, available on all major platforms. Going from a one-time payment to a F2P model completely changes how the game functions outside of the gameplay itself, mostly concerning cosmetics and player rewards. So, should we be optimistic about this?

Why Overwatch 2 Going Free to Play Could Start a New Golden Era

Overwatch 2 will be free to play. This announcement came as quite the shock to many fans of the FPS during the reveal event. While, to others, they expected that it was only a matter of time before this came into play. With games such as Fortnite and Apex Legends having shot up in popularity with an easily-accessible F2P (free-to-play) model, it seemed only natural that other games would soon follow this trend.

Even before this announcement on June 12th at the Xbox/Bethesda virtual show, many players suspected that this would be happening. There were countless forum discussions, YouTube videos and such on the topic. Some players requested it, others condemned it ever coming to light. Here we are, months later, and it’s finally official.

Blizzard’s Rocky Year

In 2021, many revelations regarding the work culture at Activision Blizzard were exposed to the public. They came under a lot of heat during this time and after the flames begun to die down, the Overwatch Team spoke about some unfortunate internal circumstances. One of these being that months of development time on the sequel had been lost due to questionable management from chief executive Bobby Kotick. Not only all of this, but just before it, Jeff Kaplan, the previous Overwatch game director left Blizzard.

Could F2P save Overwatch?

Could F2P save Overwatch?

It was clear from the lack of content on the live game, the sheer lack of updates regarding the sequel and the Blizzard revelations that something had to change. Something big had to happen to save Overwatch. This is what this sequel was meant to do, but it had to be so much more, and fast. This led to the decision to split the PvP and PvE sections of the game into two separate release dates. This would allow us, the players, to get ahold of more content sooner, because time was running out.

Free To Play – Why?

Originally, the popular FPS was always meant to be a one-time purchase. It would come with the promise of live updates and fresh content including new heroes and new maps. Fast forward a little bit, and Fortnite releases and takes the video game industry by storm. With its free-to-play model, it was accessible, easy to jump onto, whether on your Xbox Series X, PS5, PC, phone etc and it quickly introduced cross-platform play. It received constant updates from Epic Games who made sure to hype up all upcoming events and cosmetics. Battle Passes had people playing for hours to earn special rewards, and the replayable game thrived in this model.

Overwatch 2 will bring a new golden era

Overwatch 2 will bring a new golden era

Other games noted the success of this model and then came those such as Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone and Valorant. Time and time again, it proved to be successful. Constant updates, constant developer communication, constant content. This was something that Overwatch lacked, and so it began to fall like a forgotten book that slid behind the shelf. Finally, Blizzard decided this was the direction in which they wanted to take their beloved FPS game. No. This was the direction they needed to take it in, to save it.

What Does It Mean for Overwatch 2?

Short story is that the fundamentals of the game will remain the same. Gameplay, visuals, characters. Overwatch 2, even while free to play, is still the same game we all fell in love with six years ago. However, it comes with some hefty changes to everything outside of gameplay, including how you will acquire cosmetics. Your sprays, skins, voice lines and the lot will likely not be available in the same way that they are now. I can imagine some sort of Battle Pass or something similar will come into play here.

Get ready for a new journey to begin

Get ready for a new journey to begin

This goes deeper than gameplay, though. What it really means is a new era for the futuristic FPS. A new golden era, one similar and possibly bigger than the one we had when it first released. This is a chance for the developers to start again, to re-build a community that fell apart. To bring in a plethora of new players and take a step into the future of gaming. It’s all about the now. Streaming services, Xbox Game Pass, even Spotify instead of your local radio stations. Free-to-Play games. Love them or hate them, right now they seem to be gaming’s future when it comes to PvP.

How It Could Go Wrong

While this monetisation method is great for several reasons, there are aspects of this that are not so great. For one, if it leans too heavily into this and is an absolute money-grab with no way to earn cosmetics other than to straight-up pay real money, players are not going to be best pleased. This is probably the most worrying side of it all. Can we trust Blizzard to turn it all around as well as create a new monetisation system for a game that, at one point, thrived without it?

A first look at brand-new weapon charms

A first look at brand-new weapon charms

The ‘pay to win’ notion also comes into question. Looking at Diablo: Immortal, one of Blizzard’s more recent games, it has become notorious as a “cash grab” which is not the best title to earn. Players are complaining about how essential it is to pay real money in order to gain in-game rewards that give players an advantage in actual PvP gameplay. If you don’t pay, you’ll suffer at the hands of those that do. This is not what Overwatch stands for. I can’t even imagine how disappointing it would be if the game turned down this route.

A Bright Future

Rest assured, there will be no payments required to enjoy what truly makes the hero shooter shine. New heroes like the Junker Queen, new maps like Gothenburg and Rio, upcoming new game modes, and more surprises around the corner will all come with the game itself. We’ll see Sojourn, a new Support and new tank hero, the Junker Queen all at launch as well as a plethora of maps and balance changes. When it comes to in-game purchases, this will be more aimed at your cosmetics, including the new mythic skins.

Prepare to meet the Queen

Prepare to meet the Queen

Loot boxes are a thing of the past now, so any new skins that you desire will likely come straight out of your pocket. For those looking to grab some freebies, get the free Founder’s Pack for a surprise gift to all legacy players. The Watchpoint Pack and the new battle pass are available at a bundled price for those who want to make sure they hit the ground running in October. It gives you access to plenty of virtual currency and new cosmetics including the Season 1 Premium Battle Pass, two legendary hero skins and player icons with the launch of the sequel.

So, are you looking forward to Overwatch 2 going free to play upon its release date? Don’t forget to sign-up for early access to the upcoming second beta on June 28th. I know I’m excited to see what this live service model will look like, and I believe that if executed well, it could be something truly amazing.

Release Date Reveal | Overwatch 2
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