Overwatch 2 has struggled in one way or another since the questionably justified sequel released in 2022. One of the biggest gripes the community has had since launch is the game’s use of a battle bass that keeps new characters locked behind a paywall. This may change sometime in the future, according to one developer, which could mark another step toward bringing Overwatch 2 closer to the quality of its predecessor.
During an interview with SVB’s Group Up podcast, Overwatch 2 Executive Producer Jared Neuss addressed the issue of the battle pass grind. “Would I like for every single player to be able to experience a hero the day that a season drops? Yes," Neuss said. "Do I think that we will get there? Yes, I do think that we will get there, and we're actively working towards it right now. Can I talk about the details? No, I can't."
Monetization in Overwatch is not a new problem. The original was rife with microtransactions in the form of loot boxes. While Overwatch 2 did away with loot boxes, it adopted the more popular model of live-service games today: free-to-play with a paid battle bass and in-game store.
One of the biggest incentives for players to spend the 1,000 Overwatch Coins ($10) on the paid battle pass is to gain immediate access to new heroes. As a hero shooter, getting access to new characters as soon as possible is one of the most important parts of Overwatch 2. It lets players stay up to date with the current meta of the game, especially when playing competitively. Of course, you don’t have to pay money to get access to new heroes. The free version of the battle pass lets players earn the latest heroes, but they have to make their way through 45 tiers first, which takes a great deal of time and leaves you behind.
This is a point fans have brought up since Overwatch 2’s launch, with the biggest criticism being that it leads to a pay-to-win culture in the community. While Overwatch 2 is a skill-based game that relies on mastery of heroes and team communication to truly succeed, having access to heroes that your opponent doesn’t gives players a leg up. Much of Overwatch 2 is about understanding what the proper counters are for the heroes your opponent chooses, and that becomes difficult without access to the whole roster.
Neuss’ tease that the Overwatch team is aware of this and plans to address it in the future is a good sign of things to come. It’s also the latest in a string of ups and downs for Overwatch 2. The sequel’s existence has faced plenty of scrutiny since its announcement and even more upon release. With the cancelation of the much-anticipated Hero Mode (something seen as one of the main justifications for a follow-up title in the first place) and poorly received updates to Overwatch 2, the development team has had to work overtime to make fans feel like the game can get better.
The release of the massive Invasion update in August delivered the best version of Overwatch 2 to date, addressing plenty of issues that had been around since launch. Moving toward offering heroes for free to all players is yet another olive branch from Blizzard along the path toward making it a better game for the community.