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Blizzard’s Overwatch has proven to be one of the most consistently popular team-based shooters of recent years, and fans have finally gotten a good look at the sequel. The Overwatch 2 reveal event included numerous tidbits, perhaps none more exciting than confirmation that Overwatch 2 will not have loot boxes. However, it’s still going to be a free-to-play game.
The original Overwatch had an upfront cost paired with loot boxes, a mechanism that grants random items for a fee. Sometimes you get great stuff in a loot box, but usually, you don’t. Blizzard worked to make the opening experience compelling so people would want to do it over and over… not unlike gambling. Some countries and states have attempted to pass legislation recognizing loot boxes as a form of gambling, but only Belgium and the Netherlands have taken any concrete action in that realm.
Overwatch 2 won’t have randomized loot boxes, but that doesn’t mean monetization will be generous. This will be a free-to-play game, which could give Blizzard license to really rake players over the coals. There will be an in-game shop where players can purchase items and cosmetics, plus a battle pass system that will offer additional rewards and content. Pricing is not available, but we expect the microtransactions to be spendy compared to the original Overwatch, which retailed for $40 at launch. Blizzard says its new Overwatch 2 battle pass model will allow developers to add more content on a regular basis, including more maps and cosmetics. The Verge attempted to get further details, but Blizzard declined to comment.
It would be nice to have some more details because the dividing line between traditional microtransactions and loot boxes can be surprisingly fuzzy. For example, Diablo Immortal has what amounts to loot boxes with its Elder Rift system. You have to use expensive in-game items called crests to power up a rift, which is essentially a miniature dungeon. The more legendary crests you can put in, the better the chance you’ll get legendary drops in the rift, but it’s still all random.
The overarching issue with Immortal is that you can’t play the game effectively without those legendary drops, leading many to deride it as “pay-to-win.” We don’t know if that will be true of Overwatch 2 even without the loot boxes. You can sign up for beta access now, which begins later this month, but the monetization scheme may not even be in place for the test.