Wondering if Overwatch 2‘s free-to-play model is here to stay? This extensive guide will walk you through everything we know about the pricing, monetization, and future plans for Overwatch 2 to help you understand if it will remain free forever.
The Short Answer: Yes, Overwatch 2 is Permanently Free!
First off, let‘s directly answer the key question simply – Yes, Blizzard has stated clearly that Overwatch 2 is planned as a permanently free-to-play game.
When it was first announced back in 2019, Blizzard confirmed Overwatch 2 would release with a F2P model to open the game up to a wider audience.
And Game Director Aaron Keller verified again this year that Overwatch 2 "will be free to play" as they "move from a premium model to a free-to-play model."
So you can download and play Overwatch 2 for free right now and into the foreseeable future. There are currently no plans whatsoever to charge for the base game. It‘s free for good!
Now let‘s dive deeper into the specifics on how Overwatch 2 makes money as a free title, comparisons to the original pricing model, and what exactly you get for free:
Overwatch 2‘s In-Game Purchases & Battle Pass
With Overwatch 2 now permanently free, how does Blizzard monetize the game? Here are the primary ways they generate revenue:
Battle Pass – This is the core monetization system. You can unlock cosmetics by leveling up the free track, or pay for the premium track to get over 80 exclusive cosmetic rewards per season.
In-Game Shop – Various cosmetic items, currency, and the premium Battle Pass can be purchased directly through the in-game store at any time.
Seasonal Events – Timed exclusive cosmetic items are available for purchase during seasonal in-game events like Halloween or Christmas.
Founder‘s Pack – A one-time purchase for existing Overwatch 1 players to upgrade to Overwatch 2 with bonus cosmetics. No longer available.
Importantly, all post-launch gameplay content (new heroes, maps, and modes) will be available for free. Only optional cosmetic items require real money payments.
How Does Overwatch 2 Compare to Overwatch 1?
To evaluate the pricing shift, let‘s compare how the original Overwatch was monetized:
Overwatch 1 (2016 Launch)
- Upfront cost: $40 for base game
- Loot Boxes: Cosmetic-only randomized item boxes
- Post-Launch Content: New heroes and maps were free
- Limited-Time Events: Free seasonal events with special loot box cosmetics
Overwatch 2 (F2P Model)
- Base Game: Entirely free for all players
- Battle Pass: Cosmetic rewards by playing and seasonal purchases
- Post-Launch Content: New heroes and maps remain free
- Limited-Time Events: Special cosmetics available for purchase
This shift to free-to-play aims to continually monetize the player base through optional cosmetic purchases rather than rely on upfront game sales. It provides a steady revenue stream to support ongoing development.
Early numbers show this model has been enormously successful – Overwatch 2 gained over 25 million players in its first 10 days! That likely wouldn‘t have been possible with a $40-60 price tag.
What Gameplay Content is Free in Overwatch 2?
Importantly, Blizzard has stated all core gameplay content will be free for all players. Here‘s what you get for free in Overwatch 2:
- All Overwatch 1 Heroes – The entire 31 hero roster from the original Overwatch is free
- All Overwatch 1 Maps – You get access to all previous maps and map modes
- Core Game Modes – Quick Play, Competitive, Arcade – all are free
- New Heroes – Brand new heroes added post-launch will be instantly free
- New Maps – Any new maps that get added in updates will be instantly free
So you can play competitive 6v6 matches across the full roster of heroes and maps without spending anything. No gameplay content or gameplay power is locked behind purchases.
What Do You Get for Owning Overwatch 1?
Players who previously purchased any edition of the original Overwatch gain some nice bonuses in Overwatch 2:
- Exclusive Founder‘s Icon player icon
- Founder‘s Pack with 2 Legendary Skins
- Instant free access to the Season 1 premium Battle Pass
- Automatic unlock of the Kiriko hero
However, owning the original game does not get you Overwatch 2 free. You still have to install and transition to the new free-to-play model like everyone else.
Will Overwatch 1 Servers Shut Down?
Yes, the original Overwatch 1 game is essentially discontinued. As of October 4th 2022, the Overwatch 2 launch replaced the previous game.
Blizzard is in the process of winding down all Overwatch 1 PC and console servers, clients, and support infrastructure. Everyone has to transition to the free Overwatch 2 game now.
This unification into a single F2P game allows the player base to be combined into one shared environment. It also lets developers focus on improving just Overwatch 2 rather than splitting resources.
How Much Does Overwatch 2 Cost on PC?
Since Overwatch 2 is completely free, the game costs $0 on PC! All you need to access the full experience is download the free Battle.net client and install Overwatch 2 at no charge.
There is no option or way to purchase Overwatch 2 itself. The only purchases are optional cosmetic items from the in-game store.
Can You Play Overwatch 2 Offline?
Unfortunately, there is no way to play Overwatch 2 offline. Since it‘s an online live service game, you must have an internet connection to play against real opponents.
The original Overwatch did allow offline play vs. AI bots. But Blizzard removed this from the sequel to focus solely on online PvP matches.
If you lose connection during a match, you‘ll immediately be kicked from the game servers until your internet is restored. An online connection is mandatory at all times.
Will Overwatch 2 Ever Require a Subscription?
Based on all available details about Blizzard‘s monetization plans, it seems very unlikely Overwatch 2 will ever have a subscription service requirement.
The game is designed primarily around individual cosmetic purchases and the occasional Battle Pass. Having to pay recurring subscription fees would undermine the free access that draws in millions of new players.
The Overwatch team has given no indication whatsoever that subscriptions are planned. It seems safe to say mandatory subscriptions will not be added to Overwatch 2.
Is Overwatch 2 Really Free? What‘s the Catch?
With so many bonuses for the old game and a full-price release, you may wonder: is Blizzard‘s permanently free Overwatch 2 model really as good as it sounds?
The short answer is yes – the switch to free-to-play is legitimately a great value. Here‘s why:
No Pay-to-Win – Spending money can‘t improve your actual gameplay performance. No purchases provide gameplay advantages.
Core Game Unchanged – All the fantastic Overwatch gameplay you love is still fully intact.
All Heroes Available – You can play any hero right away, with unlocks only needed for newly added heroes.
Maps Free Too – All existing and upcoming maps are free to all players.
Cosmetic-Only Monetization – You only miss out on optional visual customization, not core content.
The only catch is free players progress through Battle Passes slower and cosmetic unlocks are limited. But the core competitive 6v6 multiplayer stays completely free, accessible, and fair no matter what.
For a AAA-quality multiplayer shooter you can download free, that‘s an incredible value!
Can You Unlock Everything for Free?
While the gameplay content is fully accessible, obtaining every single cosmetic item without paying will require an immense amount of grinding. Is it possible to unlock all cosmetics as free players?
Technically yes, but it is designed to take an extremely long time to do so. You‘ll need hundreds and hundreds of hours of play to collect enough coins and item drops organically to get every cosmetic.
The incentive to spend is built around accelerating the cosmetic collection process. But your gameplay performance and options are never limited by going free-to-play.
How Long Until New Heroes Are Free?
One slight exception to instantly free content is new post-launch heroes. When new heroes get added to the game, they need to either be purchased using earned coins or unlocked through the current Battle Pass.
Once that season‘s Battle Pass expires, the hero then becomes freely accessible to all players, even those who didn‘t log in during that season.
The wait time until a brand new hero goes fully free is about 9-12 weeks based on average Battle Pass lengths. So over time all gameplay content still becomes available at no cost.
Can You Pay to Unlock Overwatch 2 Faster?
No, there is no way to pay to increase your account progress or unlock things faster outside of the Battle Pass. All players advance at the same rate based on time invested.
Of course you can pay to access premium cosmetics faster without grinding. But attributes like account level, competitive ranks, hero mastery, and seasonal prestige tiers will all take the same time for everyone.
Is the Overwatch 2 Battle Pass Worth it?
Here‘s a detailed breakdown of what you get from the Overwatch 2 Battle Pass to help decide if it‘s worth buying:
- 61 cosmetic items
- Includes 2 Legendary skins
- Approximately 1 new item every level
- Over 80 total cosmetic rewards
- 5 unique Legendary skins
- New Mythic skin on prestige
- Instant hero unlocks
- 20% XP boost
For 1000 Overwatch Coins (~$10 USD), the premium Battle Pass offers strong value with several exclusive Legendary skins, new heroes instantly unlocked, and significantly faster progress through the 100 levels.
If you expect to play regularly throughout the season, the Battle Pass is likely worth it. Occasional players may stick to the free track.
Will Overwatch 2 Ever Go On Sale?
Since the core game is now permanently free, Overwatch 2 itself will never get discounts or go on sale. However, in-game cosmetic items go on sale all the time!
You should expect to see occasional sales or limited-time discounts for items like:
- Overwatch Coins Currency Packs
- Premium Battle Pass Price Reductions
- Bundles and Packs of themed Cosmetics
- Selected Individual Skins, Emotes, etc
But the base free-to-play game will remain at its regular price of $0 for the long term. The developers continue supporting the live service via cosmetic sales.
Is It Too Late to Buy Overwatch 1?
Now that Overwatch 2 has fully replaced the original game, it is too late buy a new copy of Overwatch 1.
The servers are shut down, clients are deactivated, and retail versions have ceased production. Any old keys for Overwatch 1 still in circulation no longer work.
As covered earlier, owning a previous copy of Overwatch 1 still provides some nice founder‘s bonuses in Overwatch 2. But new copies can no longer be obtained.
Should You Buy Overwatch 2?
Since the base game is 100% free, there‘s no upfront "buy-in" required to play Overwatch 2. But is it ultimately worth your time and money invested in optional purchases?
For brand new players, Overwatch 2 is absolutely worth trying out as a free downloadable game. You can sink hundreds of hours into mastering the various heroes and competitive modes without paying anything.
If you find yourself really enjoying the gameplay and want to support ongoing development, the Battle Pass and shop purchases are great additional value on top of the free content.
For veteran Overwatch players, merging your existing progression into Overwatch 2 is a no-brainer way to carry on your legacy and enjoy a reinvigorated player base. The new look, feel, and changes keep things fresh while recapturing the magic you remember.
Overall, Overwatch 2 shaping up to be a phenomenal continuation of one of the best hero shooter franchises out there. And making it permanently free eliminates all barriers to entry. It‘s an exciting new chapter for the series!
The Bottom Line
Based on the pricing structure, Blizzard‘s statements, and plans shared so far, Overwatch 2 will remain completely free-to-play permanently.
The shift from a paid box product to free live service model has hugely succeeded at driving player numbers and engagement. Cosmetic microtransactions will continue fueling ongoing development.
While obtaining every cosmetic requires extensive playtime, all current and upcoming gameplay content is fully accessible for free. Overwatch 2 has avoided pay-to-win pitfalls and delivers tremendous value.
So feel free to jump into the fight for the future at no cost! Hopefully this guide clarified all aspects of Overwatch 2‘s pricing, monetization, and what content you receive for free. See you on the battlefield!