Blizzard is taking a fresh approach to microtransactions in Overwatch 2, ditching the loot boxes of the multiplayer shooter’s predecessor in favor of an in-game cosmetics shop.
During an Overwatch 2 press roundtable, TechRadar Gaming was told that loot boxes won't be appearing in the upcoming game. Instead of blindly opening packs to earn random cosmetic items, players can purchase their content directly.
“As we transition into Overwatch 2, we are going to be sunsetting our loot boxes in favor of a new system that’s an in-game shop,” Overwatch vice president and commercial lead Jon Spector said. “Players can go in and make direct purchases of the cosmetic items that they want.”
However, the game’s approach to microtransactions hasn’t been entirely nailed down. Speaking in the roundtable, Spector said additional details, such as how players can link their Overwatch accounts between platforms to roll forward into the sequel, will be announced down the line.
Game director Aaron Keller, meanwhile, said some specifics are still being worked out behind the scenes. Without a complete picture of how Overwatch 2's free-to-play business model works, he said, it’s difficult to know exactly what the game’s monetization systems will offer. "More than anything,” Keller said, “we just want this to feel fair to players; for it to feel generous to players.”
Fun and fair
The removal of loot boxes represents a big change for the Overwatch series. The blind luck packages were once a staple of nearly all competitive multiplayer shooters, and the first Overwatch's in-game monetization system rested solely on them.
But loot boxes have fallen out of fashion among major video game publishers in recent years. Fortnite’s battle royale mode has never included them, nor has Call of Duty: Warzone. As players become increasingly wary of what are often seen as predatory money-making systems, and some countries out (opens in new tab)right ban them under gambling law, publishers have started to look for new ways to monetize their games.
Blizzard is doing just that, as Overwatch 2 pivots to a free-to-play model supported primarily by a battle pass. The nine-week rolling pass will offer character skins, weapon charms, and new voice lines through a free and premium progression track.
Players will be waiting with bated breath to see just how generous and fair Overwatch 2’s systems really are. Blizzard’s latest release, Diablo Immortal, has come under fire for its excessive monetization and hidden progression caps that punish free-to-play players.