It should come as little surprise that Overwatch 2 beta will take a leaf
out of many other free-to-play games’ playbooks when it launches on October 4. Blizzard plans to make money from the sequel with a battle pass.
As I expected when I wrote about the possible monetization options earlier this week, there will be free and premium tiers available. Blizzard shared a work-in-progress screenshot of the battle pass, though things may change between now and October. Since this isn’t finalized, don’t pay too much attention to the specific cosmetics, which are placeholders.
It seems you’ll unlock skins, icons, voice lines, emotes and XP at various tiers. Look closely on the right of the screenshot Overwatch 2 beta, and you’ll see that there’s a bundle of cosmetics that will unlock when you buy the premium pass. One of those is a weapon charm. Again, the screenshot isn’t final and the details may change, but weapon charms are definitely part of the sequel.
There will be a new battle pass with each season, which will offer fresh cosmetics to unlock. It seems each season’s pass will have 100 levels. Another intriguing thing about the screenshot is that there is a gift icon below the “upgrade battle pass” prompt. So, you may be able to gift the battle pass to other players.
The devs say there will be weekly challenges, with unspecified rewards. There will also be a store where players can buy premium cosmetic items — in other words, the really fancy stuff. Perhaps you’ll find the new Mythic skins there.
The End Of Loot Boxes
There’s one other huge change when it comes to cosmetics: Overwatch 2 beta will not have loot boxes.
“Along with the free-to-play change, we’re doing away with loot boxes entirely,” lead hero designer Geoff Goodman said. “We have a new battle pass model coming in and we have a store as well. Players want a lot more control about how they interact with the game and how they acquire new content.”
Getting rid of loot boxes might sadden some fans, but it seems to be a wise move Overwatch 2 beta. External pressures may have played a role in the decision. Belgium banned loot boxes in video games a few years ago and they appear to be on thin ice in the Netherlands. The Gambling Commission in the U.K. has expressed concern about loot boxes too.
Consumer groups in the U.S. are also pressuring the Federal Trade Commission to investigate loot boxes, specifically FIFA Ultimate Team packs in FIFA 22 and other games in that series.
In other words, it seems like an opportune time to ditch loot boxes and embrace other types of reward systems. I can’t say I’m surprised by the move, but shifting to a battle pass and a storefront will give players more transparency on the items that they’re unlocking.
Everyone who has bought the original game by June 23 and logs in by December 5 will receive a Founder’s Pack. That includes special skins for Sombra and Doomfist, a Founder’s Icon and a surprise item that will be revealed later.
In an interview with the Overwatch 2 beta team this week, I asked for more details about the battle pass and cosmetics in Overwatch 2 beta. They’re keeping the lid on the business model and monetization for now. They’ll explain those aspects of the game in more detail later. Still, the team shed some light on why free-to-play was the right direction.
“Free-to-play, for us, is about growing the audience and doing that around the world,” Overwatch 2 beta commercial leader and vice-president Jon Spector said. “This is a game that is at its most fun when you can jump in and play with your friends and get your team together and go play matches all night.
“We think this is the best time to make that transition with the launch of Overwatch 2 beta, with the shift to the live-service model, our ability to add in cross-progression and cross-platform play. There’s a whole bunch of these different systems that have all come together to make us feel like ‘hey, this is the right moment to go free to play, drop any of those barriers to entry for players and make it as easy as possible for people to fall in love with the game, and then play with their friends.’”
For now, at least, the focus is on getting players excited for the beta, which starts on June 28, and then the full launch in October. In the meantime, I have more than 500 loot boxes to open.