Overwatch business model and competitive scene

Blizzard announced that the business model for Overwatch will be a pay-up-front model. Some people didn‘t like it, hoping that the game will be free to play, but I think this is a great decision by Blizzard and there are a few reasons for that. I‘ll be giving my opinion on a few key points about why this business model should work and why is it good.

  • First of all, this should eliminate the pay-to-win option that is used a lot these days. After buying the game, everyone should have access to all of the heroes and maps, so everyone will be equal. And this is very important for a game like Overwatch, because you can‘t just play 1 character and hope to win all games. Players change heroes while mid-game and if you would only have access to 5 heroes you might just get countered and lose the game, because „you don‘t have that hero that works well against the enemy team composition“.
  • Talking about maps, they should never release DLC content with bonus maps. This split ups the community into many different groups, look at BF4 for example. Someone might have 1 map pack, someone might have 3 map packs, the other will have all map packs and they won‘t be able to play with each other. That being said, I believe Blizzard should make most of the stuff free so the community would not be divided into groups. And with the pay-up-front model they should be able to do this.
  • New heroes might be created in the future and I hope they won‘t be releasing every hero and ask money for it. They should either make it free or if they really want to make people pay for characters, best do it in DLC packs with 5-10 heroes at once. This wouldn‘t divide the community into huge groups and everyone would still be able to play with each other. Obviously, I believe the best option would be to just make them free so everyone would always have equal possibilities, but it‘s up to Blizzard to make the decision.
  • To state the obvious, they will be releasing skins for characters and maybe their guns which is a way for them to make money. And there‘s nothing bad with it, as long as it doesn‘t give any advantages to players with this content. They made a really nice looking game with great lore, so I believe a lot of people will be happy to throw money at the screen and get a skin for a character they like. What is extremely fun about this is that you can change heroes’ mid-game which means that a player will always have the option to change to his favorite hero and show off that funny hat he bought or a colorful costume he has.

Overall I believe Blizzard is one of the few companies that can make a game like this a great game, even with the pay-up-front model, because they can easily make a game or DLC 40-60$ and still sell millions of copies. What is more, making it a one-time payment thing makes it easier to play the game competitively. Players instantly have access to all of the stuff, so they don’t need to worry about grinding for hours and hours to gain some in-game currency to buy additional stuff. All you need to do is buy the game and you are already ready to fight everyone else and the only thing that matters is your skill level.


Competitive gameplay

There is already quite a few weekly online tournaments and various random tournaments happening in both EU and NA. Even though the game is still in beta, a lot of professional eSports companies already have Overwatch Teams and this might be very surprising to some people. The game just came out, nobody knows how to play the game yet or what is the best composition for each situation so how can you already have professional teams and even tournaments? To answer the question, most of the teams contain professional players from different games, like TF2 or BF4, because the experience in those games might help a lot in Overwatch. If you haven’t yet watched any online tournament, but you are a fan of the game, I think you should check them out. It’s very interesting to see all these new teams trying to find the best team composition in every situation. The spectator mode is still kind of weird and guys behind it aren’t sure how to make things look good, but it’s still quite entertaining and streams already get more than 1000 viewers.

I hope this will be the first game blizzard made that will have a great competitive gameplay. Sure, Hearthstone and HotS have competitive stuff, but blizzard wasn’t that ready for it. Hearthstone only became competitive, because the game was very popular and people demanded it and HotS competitive scene was very forced and never became something big, because League and Dota was already there. Overwatch, on the other hand, everyone was interested in this game before it even launched. It‘s still in closed beta at the moment, but people are already creating competitive teams with sponsors, community-driven tournaments are already being organized and blizzard is hiring eSports manager. Some people believe that Overwatch won‘t become a thing, because of Counter-Strike and other similar games, but in reality it is already a thing. Only around 1% of people got closed beta invites and yet the game already has so much attention, including, but not limiting to streams, tournaments, fan art, cosplay.


The future of Overwatch

But while it is already a popular game, Overwatch still has a lot to of polishing to do before it becomes a great eSports game. For example, the spectator mode is absolutely horrible right now and it‘s hard to see what‘s going on if you know the game and it‘s even more complicated if you don‘t know the game and have never played it. Another big problem is the scoreboard and information in-game. You can‘t see when a team member or an enemy is killed, so the only way to know this stuff is to either witness it happen with your own eyes or your teammate to tell this stuff in voice chat. This means you will get the information a few seconds after it happened and in a fast paced game like Overwatch every second matters. Talking about scoreboard, you can only see your own stats and this mean you won‘t be able to know who is doing best on the enemy team. In games like League of Legends or CS:GO you can see who is the strongest player on the enemy team and you might try to counter him or focus him in team fights, but in Overwatch, with no stats in the scoreboard, your team won‘t be able to know who is the best player. I understand why Blizzard did this and it is indeed an amazing decision for casual games, because you can‘t know who is doing bad in your team and therefore you can‘t flame them or blame others. This makes the game environment very friendly and the game has very little toxic people. I still hope they‘ll change it for ranked and competitive games so would be able to play and adapt to their enemies better.


TL;DR The payment model Blizzard chose is the best choice as long as there will be no pay-to-win DLCs or buyable DLCs that split up the community into groups. As for the competitive scene, it already has a lot of fans, viewers and competitors. It will be interesting to see how Blizzard will deal with the future of this amazing game which has infinite potential.


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