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Overwatch

Why Now is the Perfect Time for Overwatch to go Free to Play

Many people have been wanting Overwatch to go Free to Play for a long time. The game has been out for almost five years now and is still regularly priced at $19.99. Yet, the game has been faltering in terms of viewers not just of its game in general, but also its pro-scene, the Overwatch League. With the OWL getting moved to YouTube it has seen an expected downtrend in views averaging about 65,000 viewers, according to escharts. Even still, Blizzard has yet to follow the Free-to-Play method that games like Fortnite and League of Legends have used well to stay at the top of games played and views for their professional scene for years. But, now is the time. Blizzard can help itself out by switching to F2P right now and here is why the timing would be perfect.

Coronavirus

Has working at home ever been more important than right now? Probably not. The Coronavirus has people hunkering down either due to their own fears or government mandates in order to try and keep the virus from spreading. Because of that, video games are as popular as they ever have been. This is also true of movie and streaming companies as many of them are releasing things earlier in order to help entertain people who are stuck at home. This is extremely out of the ordinary for many of these companies because this situation is out of the ordinary for the world.

If for no other reason than the world could use some fun distractions, Blizzard should make their nearly five-year-old game free. Many games have started out as needing to be paid for and then as they got older but were still relevant, they were made free. This allowed them to hit an entirely new audience. Right now, with the Coronavirus keeping people at home, a free game like Overwatch would provide entertainment for so many. They could recapture the hearts of many fans as they download the game on everything they own and bring in brand new ones.

New Hero

It is official, Hero 32 is finally on its way. Echo will grace fans with her presence and bring a much-needed end to the hero drought coming from Blizzard and the Overwatch team. While Echo’s release date is not exactly known, TimTheTatman played her on March 19 to reveal her abilities. It is interesting that after nearly a seven-month hiatus that they have decided to finally release her. Is it possibly because of the Coronavirus? There seemed to be no indications of a release ahead of the welcome surprise. But, that aside, this release also seems like a perfect time to make Overwatch free.

echo lore
Old and new players alike will be interested in the new hero. Why? Because people love new things and in games like Overwatch, new heroes bring changes to the meta. She is a DPS much to the chagrin of many. But her playstyle and ultimate make it likely that the meta will change especially with hero pools recently being added to the game. This would be a great time for new players to not only learn a new hero alongside old players but also get used to things like hero pools with the rest of the community.

Overwatch League is Back but Only Online

Continuing the surprising amount of news this week, the Overwatch League announced that it would be coming back in an online format only. This, like everything currently, is due to the coronavirus. With Homestands either canceled or on hold, the OWL decided to move to online, which is definitely the right move. Teams that have not played this year, mostly in the Pacific East, will finally get their chance to strut their stuff. With this, there will be more games than normal as well.

Los Angeles Gladiators
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Not only would this be a great time to make Overwatch free but, also push the OWL. Viewer numbers have been holding steady around 65,000 but have definitely been on the decline from previous seasons. With making Overwatch free they could also promote the Overwatch League in a way that is more than just the skins. They could put the games in the client while people are waiting or play replays of great plays. This would make it so that new players could start watching the games and getting attached to the League and teams. Overwatch League is currently the main product and they need more viewership. By making the game free they would also be bringing in new people who would be interested in the game and hopefully the OWL as well.

Overwatch 2

This is the big one, the new iteration of Overwatch was announced at Blizzcon 2019. It was a pretty big surprise as they revealed that they are working on a specific story mode and fleshing out the amazing characters of Overwatch. While a release date for Overwatch 2 has not been officially announced, many believe it will be coming out at the end of the year.

overwatch 2
Image Courtesy of PlayOverwatch.com

If this is true, then making Overwatch free right now would only help them sell Overwatch 2 even more. Again this would be because more people would be playing it. They would fall in love with the gameplay and characters. Then when the new one would come out they would be more likely to want to buy it. The timing would also be perfect because this would give people at least eight to nine months to enjoy the original game. Lastly, when most games have a new version coming out, the original gets cheaper. For Overwatch, it has slowly been getting cheaper but at this point, who is paying $20 for a five-year-old game? Surely there are some but the amount cannot be significant. With that, to help Overwatch 2’s launch reach more people, they should consider making the original free.

Conclusion

Overwatch is a wonderful game full of interesting characters and a mostly fun multiplayer experience. With everything that is going on both within Overwatch and outside of it, now would be a fantastic time to make the game free-to-play. Blizzard would be providing fun to a whole new group of people during a time where fun distractions are a necessity. If that is not enough of a motivator, then business-wise it would seem to make sense as well. They would be able to find new fans for the Overwatch League and also make it so there are more people who are likely to give their next iteration, Overwatch 2, a try when it is released. The argument to make Overwatch free-to-play has been growing for a long time and now would be the perfect time for a multitude of reasons for Blizzard to finally cave.


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