Overwatch is very likely to become a free-to-play title in 2019, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter predicted in an interview for authority website GamesIndustry.biz. What would make the game shift from a premium title into a free one?
Is Overwatch Going Free in 2019?
Recently, Michael Pachter from Wedbush Securities spoke to GamesIndustry.biz, commenting on the future of Overwatch. In the interview, Mr. Pachter outlined a future for the game that includes a shift from a premium game into a free-to-play model.
The claim is not entirely surprising. Back in 2018, Blizzard commented during an earnings call that they recognized Fortnite’s F2P model as one of the main challengers of their own models. Despite Fortnite’s free access, the game has still been raking in over $300 million in revenue month in and month out, making it one of the most significant and grossing games on the market.
Commenting on Overwatch’s future pricing model, Pachter had this to say:
“I think that the 18 Overwatch League (OWL) owners have been assured by Blizzard that it will expand the audience for Overwatch. Make the core game free-to-play in order to attract tens of millions of new users, who ostensibly will convert to OWL viewers.”
Pachter also explained that Blizzard would have to tread cautiously, offering players who have already purchased the game something to soften the blow from transitioning into a F2P game. A similar move was undertaken by Valve who released their flagship classic Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) as a stand-alone game in 2018, prompting a rather negative response from fans.
Meanwhile, Pachter predicted another important development. Back in 2018 when Blizzard was commenting on the success of Fortnite’s pricing model, they did so while discussing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s future, which Pachter estimates, is also very likely to go free to play in 2019. In the very least, the battle royale mode, Blackout, will be a free-to-play title.
It’s important to note that Pachter was one of the few analysts who successfully called the arrival of a battle royale mode for Call of Duty in the first place – a claim that turned out to be true later on.
The Success of the Free to Play Model
F2P pricing models have been hugely successful. The world’s most grossing competitive titles, including League of Legends (LoL) and Dota 2, have been free from the very beginning, allowing their respective communities to grow by the hundreds of thousands.
Fortnite has managed to amass incredible revenue by launching their game as a free-play title and successfully selling in-game goodies known as skins. Apart from resuscitating a game’s community in terms of the player base, shifting towards a free-to-play model is also going to help a title such as Overwatch expand its clout significantly.
Pachter predictions for a Blackout Battle Royale mode have been so far successful. Of course, he’s not always necessarily right. For instance, he predicted a mobile Warcraft game by Blizzard when it turned out to be a new Diablo. If anything, a new Warcraft game was also announced during Blizzcon, if only as a remastered version with an exciting prize pool for esports in 2019.