Blizzard’s upcoming shooter, Overwatch, isn’t free-to-play because the business model wouldn’t suit its gameplay. During BlizzCon 2015, the developer spoke to several outlets, explaining why it decided against the model. Speaking to Polygon, Game Director Jeff Kaplan said that a lot of the free-to-play models that Blizzard was considering would have required changing the core gameplay, and it didn’t want to go down that route.
We really made the decision on the business model based on what we thought was right for the gameplay. If you’ve played a lot of Overwatch, you know that hero-switching [mid-match] is a core part of it — it’s a really fun dynamic part. The difference maker between … Overwatch and other games is the fluidity in the team compositions and matching what the other team’s doing.
A lot of the free-to-play models that we were exploring involved people not having access to enough heroes to make those team compositions actually viable. We really didn’t want to change the core gameplay and limit it in some way just to make the game free-to-play.
And then, there was fan feedback. Blizzard feels that its community was growing tired of the free-to-play model.
We saw a lot of feedback coming from the community, almost like a fatigue with, like, ‘I’m trying to figure out how I’m gonna play this game. I really want [to play as the heroes] Mei, Widowmaker and Reaper, so what formula do I need to figure out in order for that to happen?’
In a separate interview with Kotaku, Principle Designer Scott Mercer said that hero-switching is a key component of Overwatch, and for that to work, players need to have access to quite a few heroes to start off with.
From the beginning, we knew this was a game all about heroes. 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.
Overwatch: Origins Edition will be available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in Spring 2016.
Are our readers happy to hear the game isn’t free-to-play?