Overwatch characters and maps released post-launch will be free

Instead of charging for new characters and maps, Blizzard promises to make them available for free in Overwatch.

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Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has revealed the game’s post-launch content will include additional maps and heroes that will be offered as free content.

Heroes and maps will be delivered in the form of patches, similar to how Blizzard launches new characters in Heroes of the Storm. For Overwatch, though, each patch that includes a new map and/or character will be completely free post launch.

While Kaplan says these new characters and maps will be added “as free content and not as DLC”, we’re curious just how long those plans will continue through the life of Overwatch. Other publishers and developers release additional content within paid downloadable content, but for Blizzard to make all future characters and maps available for free is unheard of in this day and age.

If they’re able to keep their promise through the life Overwatch, then it’s certainly worth its price of admission.

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From The Chatty

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    December 8, 2015 7:19 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Overwatch characters and maps released post-launch will be free

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      December 8, 2015 8:45 AM

      Yes, but when will I get in the beta?!

      Blizzard why yu no gief betta?!!1

      Nerf [insert character]!

      /first

      Etc

      And um, O'doyle rules?

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      December 8, 2015 8:50 AM

      If they go down the road of cosmetics, particularly related to abilities, for microtransactions, I think they make BANK.

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        December 8, 2015 1:22 PM

        Not to mention the cross-over abilities.

        They sold me on the $60 (vs $40) version with the the HOTS character. The skins and other things were nice but knowing that I'd get Tracer in HOTS was the coup de gras that put me over the edge.

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      December 8, 2015 10:05 AM

      Good. Only sensible solution.

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        December 8, 2015 11:20 AM

        Agreed, if you make maps pay-to-play it'll only fracture the community. SW:Battlefront is going to learn that the hard way.

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        December 8, 2015 12:10 PM

        Yeah. Unlike EA and Activision, Blizzard makes long-lived products. Making maps and heroes free ensures that the community will grow, rather than fragment and shrink every time DLC is added.

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          December 8, 2015 12:32 PM

          They kind of need to do this, being their first entry into this genre. They should be doing all they can to build the community and grow the game, not just for the sake of this one but future entries as well. You can build up a lot of goodwill and loyal fanbase doing something so basic like this. Just look at TF2, or go back further to the UT bonus packs.

          It's a shame EA failed to understand that with Titanfall, or SW:BF a year later. They put those out there with pay-for map plans before the games were even out, it's a big turn-off for some. Not just the price proposition but the split playerbase with each map pack that comes out. I know I would have bought Battlefront if the DLC maps were included and everyone was guaranteed to have them. Just like I would have skipped Overwatch if they had said the additional maps would cost extra. Now I want to support this game.

          Halo 5 is doing free maps as well, I hope Overwatch and that help this sort of thing to become the standard rather than the exception. Unfortunately, I don't think it will have any effect on the big established franchises who have made bank off charging $15 for a couple of maps, even if those communities are fed up with it.

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            December 8, 2015 12:38 PM

            "Just look at TF2" - A free to play ad machine.

            Just look at early TF2 maybe, but how much of that was operating at a loss until they figured out dinging you gambling opportunities (crates) to fund the game?

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              December 8, 2015 12:42 PM

              I'm talking about all the free updates they put into the game, all the new maps and modes and weapons, long before the free to play stuff even happened. Every update was an event, every one was excited to try the new content.

              I never paid once to open a crate, nor did i ever buy an item, so I don't know anything about that stuff. It's all optional and I saw nothing wrong with that. You can bet Blizzard are going to be charging for skins and other stuff too to support the game in the long run. So what? You don't have to buy it.

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                December 8, 2015 12:46 PM

                Like I said, we don’t know how long TF2 was operating at a loss. You can't hold that up as a sustainable model of game development when they had to monetize up the game shortly after. Has Valve done that same thing with any game since? (meaning single retail purchase with indefinite content support?)

                The point is...Battlefront doesn’t charge you for skins and doesn't have microtransactions, but it has map packs (which DICE has been doing since the early 2000s).

                The money has to come from somewhere to pay for the ongoing support. It is pretty clear from everything that $60 cannot pay for keeping developers around for a few years worth of content.

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                  December 8, 2015 12:55 PM

                  L4D2 was a single purchase with plenty of free added content. I am not sure about CS:GO, but I assume it's similar.

                  The opposite point to yours is that the more you support a game in the long run, the more people will buy the game later on. A game containing more content is a better value proposition to those who do not own it. You'll end up getting a lot more sales in the long run, which help cover those additional costs just the same. Plus bringing more people in and growing the community is far better than charging the few die hards that hang on more and more. Titanfall failed big because of this. And what good is a game like that when no one is playing it?

                  TF2 went free to play 4 years after the game was out and purchasable, and it was still selling up to that point because it only became a better deal with each and every update. Blizzard games also hold their value far more than most so I don't think they'll be in trouble.

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                    December 8, 2015 1:03 PM

                    CS:GO has crates and micro transactions.

                    L4D2 got 3 more maps and a couple weapons? Everything else was old L4D1 content or "crossover DLC" with other games.

                    Front end content is a nice idea from the consumer, but it sucks for the developer. You are sinking a lot of cost (and it is expensive) and hoping you don't get tanked on reviews or whatever on Day 1. With the number of purchases you have a better idea what to expect from DLC and how much to put into it. If you do a season pass you can also fund it separately.

                    Of course on the other end of the spectrum you can do an early release or something similar where you are basically releasing an incomplete game and adding in things "free" that were part of your original risk.

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                      December 8, 2015 1:19 PM

                      2 free campaigns with multiple maps each. It's easy to shrug that off as insubstantial but it's more than most games ever receive for free. And bringing over all the L4D content was huge, because they played very different with all the L4D2 gameplay additions and weapons and new special infected. It made them brand new again.

                      Just because it's old didn't mean it wasn't a good addition, especially when people out there had never played the first game. It's rare to see that sort of thing. There are a lot of yearly shooter sequels out there that could benefit from returning free maps. Even DICE LA are getting in on that with Dragon Valley for BF4.

                      These Valve games also have the benefit of community mod support, so it's kind of unfair to even compare games like this anything else that's super locked down where your only option for additional content is to pay for it.

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                    December 8, 2015 1:07 PM

                    Also, L4D2 is ironic as an example since it essentially split the L4D community with content that some would have though should be included based on the TF2 model, but was a complete new game within a year of L4D's release.

                    This is informative.

                    http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23911

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                    December 8, 2015 1:09 PM

                    And it goes without saying that Blizzard games hold their value because of the incredible long term support they give them. It's unmatched in the industry. Diablo 2 was still getting updated 10+ years later. That is kind of insane. Diablo 3 wouldn't be the game it is if they had only released the game and expansion and called it at that. They're continually improving it for free and giving people reasons to come back to it and enticing new players as well.

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                      December 8, 2015 1:28 PM

                      Meh. I think this messianic fervor surrounding certain developers only ever ends in gamer tears.

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                        December 8, 2015 2:03 PM

                        Their track record speaks for itself. Are people crying over the fact that Starcraft is still being played or something? Is the next massive and Diablo 3 update going to be the one to spurn people for good?

                        http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/19941044/patch-240-ptr-preview-11-6-2015 - Oh no, how dare they.

                        I don't get it. They're promising the best possible post-launch support plans for their brand new game, should I be upset by that? Or upset by the fact they may change in the future? What the fuck? It's far more upsetting to me to see current games lose their players and have communities dwindle by splitting them up into DLC haves and have nots.

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                          December 8, 2015 2:06 PM

                          I don't think you should get upset over it, but I also don't think it is as set in stone and godly as you make it either. Diablo did have its real money store issues after all. A lot of early statements about that game were false as they reversed course.

                          My point is simply, be wary. No one is immune to economic forces, no matter how much gamers want to pretend it is a good versus evil consideration.

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                            December 8, 2015 2:34 PM

                            only ever ends in tears is not quite the same sentiment as be wary :P

                            They're not godly, nor are they perfect. They do plenty I dislike, but they do far more I do like, and I am more than willing to get behind and praise good support. Doesn't matter who is delivering it. Good support is good support and should be recognized. Likewise, bad support and practices should be called out. And that's what happened with D3.

                            Diablo 3 was still a very solid and polished game and totally playable all the way through without even touching the auction house stuff, in-game currency (gold) or otherwise. I did not touch that stuff. The end game suffered for it, though, there's little drive and incentive for some to play the game and earn new loot for yourself when the drop rates are low and all the best stuff is readily available via barter. I can't fault them for not totally comprehending this from the start when the previous games had item trading, but they should have known better.

                            The fact that they turned it completely around and straight up removed an added profit flow in the RMAH while also making the game far more replayable and rewarding is proof that they're willing to listen to their fans and do what needs to be done to improve their products for the better. I really can't think of anyone else out who has or would actually do something like that, can you? Shit, I never thought they would have ever done something like that.

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                        December 8, 2015 2:37 PM

                        Blizzard gets benefit of the doubt based on what they've done for the last 20 years

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              December 8, 2015 1:49 PM

              The orange box also got a ton of people on steam.

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                December 8, 2015 2:06 PM

                If it was a loss leader (probably not) it was a fantastic loss leader.

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            December 8, 2015 1:51 PM

            battlefront vastly outsold halo5, but i agree. that stuff killed evolve for sure

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              December 8, 2015 1:53 PM

              oh wow. I did not know this. Was it because it was multiplatform? or is it a direct platform comparison?