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Are All Characters in Overwatch 2 Free to Play?

Are All Characters in Overwatch 2 Free to Play?

Yes, all current and new characters in Overwatch 2 are free to play. When Overwatch 2 launches on October 4th, 2022, players will have access to all 34 heroes in the game without having to pay anything. This marks a major change from the original Overwatch, which required purchase of the game itself and did not provide free access to all characters.

Overwatch 2‘s Free-to-Play Model

Overwatch 2 is switching to a free-to-play model, meaning the core game can be downloaded and played by anyone without upfront payment. This free-to-play approach aims to reduce barriers to entry and expand the player base.

Instead of paying for the game itself, Blizzard is monetizing Overwatch 2 through optional in-game cosmetic purchases like battle passes, skins, emotes and souvenirs. However, all current and future gameplay content including heroes, maps and game modes will be available free.

Comparison to Original Overwatch Model

In the original Overwatch, players had to purchase the game first, which cost $40-60 USD depending on platform and edition. This provided access to all available heroes at the time of purchase.

New heroes released post-launch like Ana, Brigitte and Ashe were automatically unlocked for all existing players. But players had to buy additional copies of the game to access these new heroes on alternate accounts or platforms.

Overall, the original model made it difficult for new players to enter the game later in its lifecycle without a significant upfront expenditure.

Benefits of Free Characters

Making all Overwatch 2 characters free provides some major benefits:

  • Allows all players to access full gameplay content without paywalls or grinding
  • Creates more gameplay diversity as players can switch heroes as needed
  • Ensures balance by giving everyone access to counter picks and synergies
  • Rewards skill over wallet size for obtaining competitive advantage
  • Expands the player base by eliminating financial barrier to entry

For competitive integrity and mainstream appeal, making characters free helps create fair matches and makes the game more fun to pick up and play for new players.

Monetization Model Comparison

Here‘s how Overwatch 2’s monetization model compares to some other popular free-to-play games:

Game Heroes/Champions Free? Monetization Model
Overwatch 2 Yes Battle pass, skins, cosmetics
Fortnite Yes Battle pass, skins, cosmetics
League of Legends Yes (rotation) Champions, skins, boosts
Apex Legends Yes (rotation) Legends, battle pass, skins

Overwatch 2 stands out for making all present and future characters free permanently instead of using a free rotation. This maintains competitive balance and fairness in matches.

Will Overwatch 2 Have Paid Loot Boxes?

No, Overwatch 2 will not have paid loot boxes. The controversial randomized loot box system from the original Overwatch has been completely removed.

In Overwatch 1, players could earn loot boxes through gameplay but also buy them with real money to get cosmetic items and credits. This randomized approach led some to decry the system as unethical and akin to gambling.

For Overwatch 2, game director Aaron Keller confirmed loot boxes have been dropped. Instead, players will get consistently priced cosmetics and battle passes with known reward tracks.

This shift aligns with recent industry trends away from paid loot boxes in favor of battle pass models popularized by Fortnite and Apex Legends. It provides players more transparency and agency in progression.

Changes from Original Overwatch

Here are the key changes from how cosmetics worked in the original Overwatch:

  • No more randomized paid loot boxes
  • Specific cosmetics available for direct purchase in shop
  • Free and premium battle pass tracks to earn cosmetics
  • Overwatch credits replaced with Overwatch Coins as in-game currency
  • Players keep all original cosmetics but credits are auto-converted
  • Original loot boxes convert to Overwatch 2 boxes with credits, not random items

This overhaul aims to provide a fairer and more satisfying cosmetic reward system. Players now can directly get the items they want rather than rely on loot box randomness.

Industry Shift Away from Loot Boxes

The elimination of paid loot boxes from Overwatch 2 reflects larger industry trends:

  • 2017: Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box backlash sparks industry controversy
  • 2018: 10 countries begin investigating loot boxes as potential gambling
  • 2019: U.S. introduces bill to regulate loot boxes as gambling/minors
  • 2020+: Major franchises shift away from loot box models

Battle passes are now seen as a more acceptable way to offer non-gameplay enhancement microtransactions by showing players exactly what they will get.

However, some concerns remain around kids being tempted into excessive spending. Expect ongoing discussions around ethics and regulation of microtransactions.

Conclusion

Overwatch 2 aims to be more fair and accessible with all current and new heroes available for free permanently. Along with dropping paid loot boxes, these changes help Overwatch 2 appeal to a mainstream free-to-play audience while maintaining competitive balance.

However, the game still relies heavily on cosmetic microtransactions for revenue. Responsible spending remains an important consideration, especially for parents of young players. But by removing random loot boxes, Overwatch 2 takes a step towards a more ethical monetization approach focused on direct value over addiction and uncertainty.