Overwatch isn’t free to play because heroes are for everyone

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Tracer

Everybody wants to be the hero these days. It’s not enough to escape the soul-crushing reality of your existence as a generic shooter or foot-stabber, you need to actually be somebody that matters, because that’s what it’s all about. But enough about American Idols, a TV show which would be infinitely better if the judges were replaced by Daleks.

The Blizzard blitzkrieg of news continues, and amidst all the StarCraft and WarCraft news out of BlizzCon, Overwatch is dominating the news like an Unreal Tournament player on a kill-streak. There’s been a lot of talk about Blizzard adopting a premium price stance on Overwatch, a game with MOBA tendencies that seems to obviously geared towards the freemium market.

But it’s the use of heroes and Blizzard’s policy of making a game open to as many people as possible, that seems to be the reason behind the current price tag.

“From the beginning, we knew this was a game all about heroes,” Principle designer Scott Mercer said to Kotaku.

As we continued to work on it and add more heroes to it, hero-switching became a really key component. To really provide for a breadth of heroes to allow for that switching—to let people look at the other team and say, ‘OK, let’s change our lineup a little bit’—became core to Overwatch.

To support that, we need to have our 21 heroes [for everyone]. Not just, like, one tank, one support, one ranged character or something. You’ve got multiple different tanks and whatnot.

We want people to have enough options that they feel like they’re not at a super huge disadvantage.

Either way you look at it, you can’t please everyone. Some people like the idea of paying a once-off price for a game, because that gives it a sense of worth. Other people like not paying for anything and getting a glorified demo, because free stuff is awesome. It’s one thing to make money on launch, but Blizzard is going to have a challenge on their hands when it needs to start balancing the cost of keeping Overwatch running.

Or even keeping people interested in the long run. Hell, just ask the guys at Evolve. I’ll tell you what though: I’d pay easy cash-dolla to use Diablo in Overwatch. Because I happen to have “Sucka” tattooed to my forehead.

Last Updated: November 9, 2015

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