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League of Legends, DotA 2, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Over watch. These are only some of the major games in the esports scene. The one that sticks out from the rest? Over watch. The others aren’t just cheap games, they’re free to play. Only Over watch still has an entry fee to it.
Blizzard suddenly announced the price cut via press release published on January 25, 2019. This press release was a detailed article on the game’s Lunar New Year patch, with hero buffs, nerfs and other game play changes, plus the Lunar New Year game event. Part of the press release noted that Blizzard had also permanently reduced the price of Over watch: Standard Edition and Over watch: Legendary Edition for PC on the Blizzard shop.
Prior to this change, Over watch: Standard Edition, the base package for the game, cost $40/£30, while Over watch: Legendary Edition, which comes with 15 cosmetics; a variety of hero skins for the game as well as rewards for other Blizzard titles like World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm, cost $60/£46. Now, the former only costs $20/£15, while the latter will cost $40/£30.
Notably, earlier in the year, a Wed bush Securities analyst predicted that the popular hero-based shooter would soon switch to a free-to-play business model, in spite of the success that it has enjoyed as a premium title. According to the analyst, Michael Pachter, Blizzard would make the switch in order to attract more players. Pachter got some credibility after accurately predicting Call of Duty‘s battle royale mode, Blackout.
While Overwatch hasn’t gone free to pay, this change was still made in a market that’s been increasingly dominated by free-to-play and cheap games in mind.
Recently, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, made the switch to the free-to-play model in order to bring in new players. The move was met with criticism, as it also introduced CS:GO’s own battle royale mode: Danger Zone, but, later down the road, the game’s popularity spiked, even becoming the most watched game on Twitch for December.
Over watch is under pressure with many questioning why it still has a hefty price tag, unlike its cousins in the esports scene, like Fortnite: Battle Royale and League of Legends. Blizzard might be hoping that this price cut might bring in new people, in lieu of rumors swirling around that says that Overwatch has been having trouble maintaining its playerbase.