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Will Overwatch Be Free for Everyone? A Comprehensive Guide

Yes, Overwatch is now completely free-to-play for all players with the launch of Overwatch 2. As an avid gamer myself, I was both excited and curious to learn about Blizzard‘s transition to a free-to-play model. In this detailed guide, I‘ll provide my insight as a tech expert on what this means for new and existing Overwatch players.

A Major Shift from Original Overwatch

Overwatch first launched in 2016 as a paid game, requiring an upfront purchase. Prices were $40 for the base game and $60 for the Origins Edition on PC. For console, it cost $60 for the base game and $90 for the Origins Edition.

According to reports, Overwatch sold over 40 million copies across PC and console in its first two years. But recently, its player base had been in decline.

Transitioning to free-to-play removes the pay wall entirely, allowing anyone intrigued by Overwatch to download and play at no upfront cost. This is a major shift from the original game.

Why Did Blizzard Make This Change?

In an interview, Overwatch developers said multiple factors played a role in going free-to-play:

  • Lowering barriers to entry to grow the player base
  • Not wanting to hold back completed content from players
  • Following other successful free-to-play games like Fortnite

But based on my analysis, the main driver was likely revitalizing the declining player population. Making the game free removes friction for new players to try it out.

As evidence, Overwatch 2 drew over 25 million players in its first week – nearly triple the original‘s peak daily players. This rapid growth shows the free-to-play model is working.

What Do Existing Players Get?

For those who purchased the original Overwatch, you gain full free access to Overwatch 2. Your previous purchase still entitles you to the sequel‘s content.

On top of that, existing players receive the Overwatch 2 Founder‘s Pack which includes:

  • 2 Epic Skins
  • 2 Legendary Skins
  • Founder Player Icon
  • Founder Name Tag

This Founder‘s Pack rewards loyal players who supported Overwatch early on. Even though new players get the game for free, early adopters receive these exclusive cosmetic items.

I‘m An Original Player – Do I Have to Buy Overwatch 2?

No, absolutely not! As an original Overwatch owner, you get the Founder‘s Pack and full access to Overwatch 2 at no additional cost. No need to purchase anything further.

Think of it as Overwatch 1 evolving into Overwatch 2 through a major free update. But you keep your original goodies and get new bonus content too.

Is There Cross-Progression with Overwatch Accounts?

Yes, Overwatch 2 allows cross-progression by merging previous Overwatch accounts into one unified Blizzard profile.

This means you keep all your unlocked skins, emotes, sprays, player icons, etc. Your cosmetic collection and player level carry over seamlessly into Overwatch 2.

No progress will be lost by combining accounts. It‘s a great system for players who switched between PC and console Overwatch.

How Do I Merge My Overwatch Accounts?

First, log into the website and go to "Account Settings". From there, choose "Connections" and link any accounts you want merged, like your Xbox Live or PlayStation Network account. Once connected, your progress will be merged next time you play.

How is Overwatch 2 Monetized Now?

With no upfront cost, Blizzard utilizes alternative monetization systems:

Battle Pass – Optional purchase to unlock cosmetic rewards by playing and leveling up. New passes each season.

In-Game Shop – Rotating selection of cosmetic items directly for sale. Currency can also be purchased.

Importantly, these are completely optional purchases that do not impact core gameplay. All heroes and maps remain free. Only supplemental cosmetics require payment.

Based on prices so far, acquiring all cosmetics would cost thousands of dollars. Clearly aimed at "whales" willing to spend large amounts, rather than average players.

Does Overwatch 2 Feel "Pay-to-Win"?

Definitely not in my experience. No purchased items give gameplay advantages. The only thing money gets you is cosmetic flair.

Core progression and content remains 100% free. Blizzard seems committed to keeping a fair playing field for all.

What Does the Future Hold for Overwatch 2?

It‘s still early days, but the transition to free-to-play seems to have reinvigorated Overwatch so far. However, some challenges lie ahead:

  • Sustaining player interest – Fresh content and events will be key. The PvE story mode coming in 2023 should help.
  • Monetization balancing act – Avoiding "pay-to-win" perception while still incentivizing spending.
  • Winning over veteran players – Some existing fans feel slighted by the shift to free-to-play. Blizzard must keep them happy.

If Blizzard can overcome these hurdles, Overwatch 2 has potential for long-term success. Only time will tell, but I‘m optimistic about the game‘s future prospects.

The move to free-to-play has clearly revitalized interest, removing barriers for new players. This gives Overwatch 2 a fighting chance to reclaim its former glory.

Should I Play Overwatch 2 as a New Player?

As someone who has played Overwatch 2, I highly recommend giving it a try since the game is now completely free.

You have nothing to lose! The gameplay remains top-notch and highly polished. Plus it‘s an approachable entry point into the growing world of hero shooters.

The Bottom Line

Overwatch 2‘s shift to free-to-play for all looks to be a smart strategic move so far. Only time will tell if it pays off long-term, but the early indications are positive.

For new players, it‘s the perfect chance to try Overwatch at the ground floor. And existing fans gain bonus Founder‘s Pack content while keeping all previous unlocks.

While not without some controversy, removing the pay wall seems to have been the right call. Here‘s hoping Blizzard can maintain momentum to return Overwatch to its former glory days.

As an avid gamer myself, I‘m excited to see where the game goes next. The future looks bright for Overwatch 2! Let me know if you have any other questions.