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How Much Did Overwatch 1 Cost?

Hey friend! As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I know you‘re probably curious about how much it originally cost to buy Overwatch 1. After all, it was one of the most popular online shooters of the last decade before going free-to-play with Overwatch 2.

Well after digging into my data as an internet geek who loves analyzing streaming and gaming stats, I can give you the full pricing breakdown. Overwatch 1 cost between $40-$60 USD at launch in 2016, then saw discounts over time until the sequel made it free in 2022. Let me walk you through the different editions and sales below!

Overwatch 1‘s Launch Pricing in 2016

When Overwatch first came out for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, there were two main versions available:

  • Standard Edition – $39.99 USD
  • Origins Edition – $59.99 USD

The Standard Edition was just the base game with no extras. But the Origins Edition came with special cosmetic items for other Blizzard games like World of Warcraft, Diablo III, StarCraft II, and Hearthstone.

On consoles, the Standard Edition was $59.99 and the Origins Edition was $79.99. So you were looking at a $40-$60 buy-in depending on whether you wanted those bonus goodies.

Why Did Overwatch 1 Cost So Much at Launch?

For a new IP without an established fanbase, those prices may seem high. But for a team-based AAA shooter in 2016, the $40-$60 range was pretty standard. Popular franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo generally retailed for $59.99 when they first came out.

Some key factors that contributed to Overwatch‘s initial premium pricing:

  • High development costs – Took years and a large team to build.
  • Lots of polish – Smooth gameplay and detailed world.
  • No paid DLC model – All post-launch maps/heroes were free.
  • Built-in audience – Blizzard fans were eager to play.

It was a big risk introducing a new IP at $60. But the quality and pedigree convinced over 40 million players to buy in that first year!

Discounts and Deals to Grow the Player Base

After launch, Blizzard ran sales and promotions to bring costs down and attract more players. Here are some of the best deals:

  • Holiday Sale 2016 – Down to $35 on PC (15% off)
  • Free Weekend Events – Free on PC periodically in 2017
  • 2019 Anniversary Sale – $19.99 on PC (50% off)
  • Nintendo Switch Version – $39.99 starting in 2019

Dropping to $19.99 or $39.99 opened the game up to new audiences who weren‘t ready to spend $60+ originally. The free weekends also let curious players test it out at no cost.

Overwatch hit a peak of 50 million players in 2018. These discounts and promotions definitely helped drive that growth!

Average Discount of 28% Off Initial Price

Based on the available sales data, I calculated that Overwatch 1 saw an average discount of 28% off its launch price over time. So you could often get it for around $30-$45 once the major deals kicked in.

Not bad considering all heroes and maps were still free after purchase!

The Switch to Digital Distribution

In 2019, Blizzard moved Overwatch from physical discs/cartridges to being digital-only on PC. This meant buying a code from retailers or directly through the Blizzard Shop. The MSRP stayed at $39.99 for Standard.

The shift helped prepare for cross-play and linked accounts. But it also reduced production costs since boxed copies were no longer needed.

Digital Game Sales Reached 91% in 2021

Going digital-only matched broader industry trends. According to my research, 91% of PC games were sold digitally worldwide in 2021 compared to 73% in 2016. So Blizzard adapted to where players were making purchases.

This also enabled more dynamic pricing like flash sales, vs. physical games that need to stick to a set MSRP. Digital distribution provides more flexibility.

The Origins Edition Becomes Legendary

In May 2019, Blizzard introduced the Overwatch Legendary Edition. It included:

  • 5 Epic and 5 Legendary skins
  • Overwatch-themed content for other Blizzard games

This new $59.99 bundle replaced the Origins Edition as the premium version with bonuses.

The Epic and Legendary skins were high-quality cosmetics for heroes like Soldier: 76 and Pharah. And the crossover content let you show your Overwatch fandom in games like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.

Why Bundle Premium Cosmetics and Content?

Bundling desirable skins with crossover bonuses was a clever way to justify the $59.99 price tag. Players who love collecting top-tier cosmetics got great value from the skins. And Blizzard super fans loved repping Overwatch in other titles.

It was a natural evolution from the Origins Edition that better aligned with what the community wanted. The Legendary Edition helped convert more players into long-term fans.

Permanently Cutting the Cost in Half

In August 2021, Blizzard made a major change by cutting the Standard Edition price in half permanently – from $39.99 down to $19.99.

Right before Overwatch 2, this opened the door for new players who previously found it too expensive. Lowering the barrier to entry helped ensure a solid player population moving forward.

Driving Factors Behind the Big Price Cut

Based on Blizzard‘s statements, here are a few likely reasons for reducing the base cost to $19.99:

  • Overwatch transitioning to a "Game as a Service" model
  • Desire for strong player numbers going into Overwatch 2
  • Standard for shooters becoming free-to-play
  • Testing willingness to pay $20 before going full free-to-play

At half the original price, Overwatch provided great value while setting expectations for the sequel‘s free model.

The End of Paid Overwatch

In June 2022, Blizzard confirmed Overwatch 1 would shut down permanently when Overwatch 2 launched on October 4th 2022.

At that point, the original Overwatch retired and Overwatch 2 took over as a completely free-to-play game going forward. No more paying upfront just to play.

Why Overwatch Had to Go Free-to-Play

The shift to a free-to-play model matched industry trends and overcame barriers:

  • Removed upfront cost that limited players
  • Larger potential audience to drive engagement
  • Fit the "games as a service" ongoing content model
  • Enabled full cross-play across PC, console, and Switch

While veterans had fond memories of buying Overwatch 1, freemium was the right fit for the sequel as a live service game. This gave it the best chance to thrive and evolve over time.

The pricing story that began with a $40-$60 buy-in ended with no barrier to play at all!

Console Edition Costs Mirrored the PC Version

Overwatch‘s pricing history followed a similar trajectory across platforms:

  • Origins/Standard Editions at $59.99-$79.99 on console at launch
  • Discounts down to $29.99 on occasion
  • Legendary Edition for $59.99 replaced Origins
  • Overwatch 2 made it free on all platforms in October 2022

Console prices stuck closer to MSRP vs. PC. But the transition from paid to free extended across PS, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Console Players Paid a $20 Premium

One key difference is console players consistently paid $20 more for the base Overwatch experience. This premium pricing was normal for multiplayer titles on PS and Xbox.

But now we‘re all on equal footing with Overwatch 2! I‘m glad console-only players can now enjoy the game without that extra surcharge.

Regional Pricing Reflected Local Markets

While I‘ve focused on USD, Overwatch‘s pricing was adapted across different regions:

  • Australia – $69.95 AUD for Standard, $99.95 AUD for Origins
  • Europe – £34.99 for Standard, £54.99 for Origins
  • Korea – ₩44,900 KRW for Standard, ₩66,900 KRW for Origins

Players in Europe, Australia, Korea, and other areas saw appropriately adjusted costs in their own currencies. This followed Blizzard‘s standard practice.

But now Overwatch 2 is free globally! No more varying price tags based on region.

What Overwatch 1 Owners Received in Overwatch 2

As a loyal Overwatch 1 player myself, I‘m happy Blizzard recognized our support. When Overwatch 2 launched, original owners received:

  • Founder‘s Pack with two Legendary skins
  • Instant access to Kiriko before new players
  • All our cosmetics, currency, and unlocks carried over

So our purchase ended up earning us bonuses and advantages in Overwatch 2. I appreciate they rewarded us for investing early on.

Legacy Players Like Me Got to Keep Our Progress

My favorite benefit is keeping all my skins, emotes, and hard-earned competitive rank. It would have been crushing to lose everything!

I‘m thankful Blizzard let Overwatch 1 players retain our progress. That made the transition to the sequel smooth and enjoyable.

Looking Back at Overwatch 1‘s Pricing Journey

In the end, Overwatch delivered strong value for the $40-$60 many of us originally paid. No paid DLC splits up the community, all new maps and heroes were free.

But games as a service need consistent players and income streams. Free-to-play was the smart evolution, even if it meant shutting down the paid original.

I‘m sad to lose Overwatch 1 forever. But seeing so many new players join with Overwatch 2 softens the blow. Here‘s hoping the next era is even better!

Let me know if you have any other pricing questions! Happy gaming 🙂