When Blizzard Entertainment announced it’s newest IP, Overwatch, many players assumed that it would use the increasingly popular free-to-play model and get its revenue from microtransactions. That is not how the whole thing went down. While there is no subscription a la World of Warcraft, you still have to purchase your copy of the game in order to play. Thankfully, despite a somewhat steep price, Blizzard showed that they are planning to develop and support this game for years to come, making the initial investment worth it in the eyes of tens of millions of players all over the world.
While the gaming community was excited about Overwatch prior to the game’s release, even more people know about it now. The pro scene is coming along very nicely, the communication with the playerbase is done very well, two new champions and two new maps have already been added to the game since the release. The game is coming together really well. With over $20 million copies of the game sold, according to reports, it seems like most gamers who would have liked to get on the Overwatch choo-choo train have already done so, but, if only to make sure and hopefully convince some more people to buy the game, Blizzard Entertainment are making Overwatch free-to-play this weekend.
Looking at it from the marketing perspective, it’s a great move. Blizzard will be able to look at how the numbers change when compared to the usual numbers over the weekend to see how many people seem to want to play the game but can’t afford to or aren’t willing to actually purchase it. With that data, Blizzard could figure out some way to reel them in, making the game even more successful. Also, there could be quite a lot of players, who don’t really like first person shooters but, seeing that it’s free to play, jump into the game and really enjoy it, buying it for themselves.
Also, the free to play initiative could help the eSports scene as well. Overwatch tournaments are broadcast on Twitch quite often. There are some people who might have stumbled upon a game or two, watched for a match or two, didn’t really understand much and turned it off. Now, seeing that Overwatch is available, they will jump into the game, try it out for themselves and see what it’s all about. The next time they stumble upon an Overwatch tournament, they will know what’s up much better. Who knows, they might actually stay around and watch the whole tournament. If Overwatch is intended to be the biggest eSport in the world, it needs to hook casual viewers to at least try the game. Initiatives like this are very good for that.