Blizzard has made the very controversial decision to lock new Overwatch 2 heroes behind a premium Battle Pass, but is all the negativity really warranted?
Overwatch players have had a rough few years. As games like Fortnite and Apex Legends receive countless crossovers, events, and spectacle, OW has been as dry as a desert as fans await its sequel.
While there’s no denying that Blizzard has failed its community on many levels, Overwatch, at its core, gave players a lot of value for $60 with every new map and hero being free upon release.
Fast-forward to the present day and Battle Passes are everywhere. New characters are released in free games, hidden behind some sort of monetization model. It’s commonplace and this method allows those titles to thrive.
For a game like Overwatch, while cosmetics and other goodies may be enticing Battle Pass items, its heart is with its heroes. As such, it makes sense that Blizzard would lock its most marketable component behind some sort of paywall.
For Overwatch to succeed, its business model needs to change.
It’s time for Overwatch to evolve
If needing to unlock characters has worked for League of Legends, Valorant, and other games, why not Overwatch? Why are players having a meltdown over needing to grind a free Battle Pass or pay for a premium one to unlock a new hero?
One argument I’ve seen is how integral hero swapping is meant to be in Overwatch. If your support teammate doesn’t have Kiriko unlocked in a Kiriko-dominated meta, it could lead to unfathomable frustration. No one wants to lose a ranked match because a teammate didn’t dish out some cash or grind the game.
This is a valid concern, especially at the highest levels of play where mirrored comps are common. One wrong hero choice can make the difference between victory and a humiliating defeat at very high levels, but that’s nothing new.
How many times can you recall having someone on your team play Roadhog, feed their brains out, and refuse to swap even though they had better heroes at their disposal?
As Overwatch Content Creator SVB summarised, most players have a couple of heroes in their repertoire and stick to them. They will play what they want to play.
Heroes behind a paywall needs to be done right or not at all
The potential problem is new heroes dominating a meta. Preventing this will be of utmost importance. This means Blizzard must commit to more frequent balancing, not release heroes in an overtuned state and make swift decisions to better the game for all parties.
For all we know right now, in ranked, all heroes could be available, and unlocking them just means that cosmetics can be applied.
Perhaps the new ranking system will value your own performance higher than a match’s outcome. We just don’t know yet, but it all comes down to Blizzard’s willingness to adapt and execute accordingly.
Blizzard can easily drop the ball with Battle Pass heroes.
At the end of the day, for Overwatch 2 to thrive as a free-to-play game, Blizzard needs to make money. For players wanting Overwatch 2 to finally breathe new life into the franchise and become the game we all know it can be, Blizzard needs something in return.
Ensuring that free-to-play doesn’t morph into pay-to-win can be tricky, but it is doable. The question is if Blizzard can pull it off. I have a lot of doubts, but I hope I’m wrong.