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Blizzard has played a bit coy in the past with how Overwatch‘s post-launch monetization would work. Starting in December of last year they announced the heroes and maps would be free updates following community questions on the model at BlizzCon, but refused to really say when they’d be adding it or the price ranges for it. 

Well, until launch that is as with the servers going live tonight so has Overwatch‘s microtransactions. Overall they are a very light bunch and are purely cosmetic in nature and are something that you can already earn in game. Each time you level up in the game you get a loot box with up to four cosmetics or in-game currency bits that let you customize how heroes appear and sound. Blizzard’s microtransaction system is merely letting you buy more of those cosmetic crates if you so desire.

  • 2 for $1.99 / £1.59
  • 5 for $4.99 / £3.99
  • 11 for $9.99 / £7.99
  • 24 for $19.99 / £15.99
  • 50 for $39.99 / £31.99

overwatch loot box microtransactions

Because of the hero switching nature of Overwatch and the fact that the game encourages you not to ‘main’ as a character there may be more desire for a wide variety of skins than other games have where people generally only buy skins for the characters they play. Note that in addition to skins this also includes sprays, animations, and voice clips.

If you want to find out more about what they’ve been saying on Overwatch today look at our coverage of the QnA which brought up the fact competitive mode will be returning most likely in June. Also, check out our launch day tips and our hero countering guide for more preparation!

Quick Take

If you were designing a microtransaction system to be as absolutely benign as possible this is pretty much it. You can earn everything in-game, there are absolutely no power benefits to the purchases and the prices are pretty reasonable. Given that Overwatch will need to maintain servers, updates, development and more this will help fuel that even as sales from the launch level off giving the game the money to keep running without anyone feeling like they must spend a penny more than the door price.

But that’s just my take! What do you think of Overwatch‘s microtransactions? Do you think Blizzard should have been more upfront with them before launch? Share your thoughts in the comments below

More About This Game

Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.

  • Azure

    Better than earning chests then being forced to buy a key for earned chests or having to buy ‘Elite’ boxes that guarantee an epic or higher rarity. There is nothing to complain about if you look at Overwatch’s competitors.

  • Reptile

    Well, Overwatch(BRL R$249,99) is selling for literally 10x the launch price of ” Overwatch competitor that have elite boxes”(BRL R$ 24,99) in my country. while in dollars it would be “only” 4x (USD $59,99 to USD $14,99).
    Don’t get me wrong, the game looks cool but doesn’t looks “1/3 of my country’s minimum wage” cool, and I liked more the animation trailers than the game itself.

  • Chris Anderson

    This is harmless as far as post-release monetization goes. Totally fine with this.

  • coboney

    That’s more an issue with how Blizzard is doing region adjustments for pricing stuff then anything though that is pretty insane.

    The point is more that the post launch monetization here is harmless -its easily earnt in game and all cosmetics.

  • Reptile

    Yes I know, the only thing I hate is that you will never know if the drop system will be rigged to frustrate people to buy boxes, as Blizzard did with Diablo 3. Also my main complain about this “box” bullshit (on any game) is that it is gambling. If i’m paying for a cosmetic I want to know what cosmetic I’m getting, not letting a random algorythm decide it for me. So it is good that this doesn’t affect the gameplay (yet), but it suck that this isn’t a free or cheap ass game, this is a full $60 release.

    And there is the point that the “servers cost money” thing and therefore they will need money in the future, well, how about full expansion packs after interval of years like they do with WoW? Or even better, dedicated servers so people and clans can create their own, just like it was back in the day.

  • coboney

    We’ve seen the rate unless they tweaked it there and you get it by playing the game at a relatively even pace there. You can also save up credits either from yours in game or bought chests when you get them to buy particular cosmetic things.

    Its not just servers its also development time and different things.

    As for expansion packs – that would have issues here because of the nature of a competitive shooter and splitting the community. They are explicitly saying all maps and characters will be free going forward.

  • It’s also probably not terribly profitable. Not enough for the game to survive on its own, anyway.

  • Aiat

    Well, although I don`t like it much, I am not against it really. You don`t even see your character in game anyway so if other want to spend money for my enjoyment it is fine. As long as they don`t ask for money for new heroes.

  • Scootinfroodie

    I have two issues with this
    1. Consistency. Evolve understandably got flack for its season pass structure, but it also got some fairly strong criticism for its cosmetic microtransactions because it was also a full retail release. A number of other games have received similar criticism. I think if the complaint is “full priced release and mtx = anti-consumer” then it should be just as bad when Blizzard does it

    2. This is moreso a design problem than a cost one. Doom 1 and 2 havent been patched in years, StarCraft hasnt needed constant content updates, and CS1.6 and Source still have users. Heck even Starsiege and Tribes 2 have servers.
    This is because these games are designed with compelling individual depth and a user-run experience in mind. The community creates mods, runs servers, edits maps etc. so there’s no need to run back and slap cosmetic microtransactions on the game. Dev-led post-launch content generation is a result of locking down the ability to properly mod the game. Dev-run servers and matchmaking are a result of not allowing the community to create their own. What we have now is a situation where players have less options and more costs, and I cannot possibly consider that to be an improvement

  • Jim

    No no no. Fuck that shit. I’ve seen how it’s ruined TF2 and I’m not
    buying into a game that’ll go F2P in 2-3 years and start dumping the
    shit out of cosmetics into the game to the point where it’s nothing but a
    goddamn fashion show and no new actual content is ever being added.

  • d0x360

    So its like req packs for halo. All dlc for the game is free, and like req packs this stuff can be earned fairly quickly through play but its random what you get so if you want something quick you pay for it.

    That’s a model I can live with. Its there if you want to use it but if not.. No big deal

  • coboney

    1) On Evolve it was not just that it was a $60 release, it was a 60 release that tried to monetize everything with a huge preorder dlc set, characters season pass, dlc that fell outside the season pass and cosmetics. Honestly, the cosmetics weren’t the part most people were upset about and it was just a final slap in the face.

    2) There’s different things. They may allow it to be hosted in the future but you still need to, if you want consistency and competitive play. One of the issues with having those player servers set up like that is a fragmented community potentially.

    I would say though that content creation by developers and that long tail and modding are not inherently at odds. We see games that do it and different ones have. That’s not to say sometimes they aren’t held at odds and used as such but assuming they are always antithetical there is wrong.

    There are different ways to design it and if a game launched without matchmaking today or tools like that many would be upset as it would remove the experience for many players. It would make the game need mods to work properly which is something no game should aspire too in my opinion.

  • coboney

    Well only without the fact that REQ packs can in one mode potentially offer a player a benefit by having more things to choose from. This is all cosmetics.

  • coboney

    Its more likely that the cosmetics will help defray ongoing update costs to add new content. TF2’s issue isn’t cosmetics, its the way Valve is treating it in general and the way they just ignore it by and large.

  • d0x360

    True but since they can be earned very rapidly in game and the items are random and also lost pretty quickly its not a big deal with guy x has a longer range assault rifle. The effects of power items are mitigated by it being a large team based mode so the chance of 1 team being full of tank driving Spartans and the other having none is pretty slim.

    I personally have no interest in the cosmetic stuff but I also wouldn’t spend money for a small chance to do 10% more damage until I’m killed so both systems are fine as far as I’m concerned because the important aspect is the games dlc being all free.

    If the model didn’t work and people didn’t spend the money this stuff wouldn’t exist but if them spending money means I don’t have to in order to get dlc…then so be it.

  • Chris Anderson

    That I wouldn’t know. 🙂

  • almighty phagg0t

    Surely you’ve seen Riot’s profits with selling nothing but skins on League of Legends. It’s definitely a viable method of survival when you have such a monolithic presence as Blizzard does, people are already buying these loot boxes left and right. As long as they maintain a steady output of skins, they’ll retain customers.

  • coboney

    Or DOTA 2, or Smite or several others.

    Riot also sells characters but in general there are a decent number of them. Could also look at Halo 5’s req packs and things.

    People will pay for cosmetics

  • GrimFate

    Can you buy Tracer’s butt pose?

  • Scootinfroodie

    Regarding 1, Killing Floor 2 and R6 Siege also got flack for their microtransactions. Prior to finding out about the attached stats, Payday 2 was getting shouted down for cosmetic drops in crates

    As for 2, matchmakers don’t support a sense of community. Just look at what happened to WoW. Allowing players to form their own communities, or having a dedicated playerbase with a place to interact outside of matches, are the two major ways to promote the formation of communities in online titles. Randomly being matched with people for a round or two and then potentially never running into them for days/weeks/months establishes no persisting relationships without extra effort on the part of players. You’ll find people will more readily identify with fellow JFH players than simply fellow DoD:S players in general.
    As far as people wanting MM and having their experience ruined without it, did adding in raid finders improve WoW’s longevity? The rapidly declining pop. numbers didnt seem to show that.
    Also how would the same game with a server browser require mods to function? That’s entirely nonsensical.

    The issue is that Overwatch is a game designed to be under Blizzards control, so it’s a game built around changes used to justify that control, which in turn require money to implement. As a result of Blizzard wanting to curate their game hard, the end user is forced to eat the cost in the form of mtx and the design is built around shallower mechanics that are more easily changed on a scheduled patching cycle

  • Scionyde

    I never played much TF2, what’s wrong with it?

  • Scionyde

    Agreed. I have no problem with it existing, but I have no idea why people would spend money at a chance of getting a skin that *maybe* they’ll like (for a character they might or might not enjoy playing). But that’s just me.

  • Scionyde

    She has an even better butt pose now! 😛

  • coboney

    Valve mostly doesn’t do much in the way of updates for it is the issue there especially compared to their other titles

  • GrimFate

    Nothing wrong with having choices haha

  • HockeyVG

    As long as they avoid the Black Ops 3 supply drops scheme (new weapons, ie gameplay content through drops) that’s fine.

    I can easily see this turning into Pay for X new characters or X new maps, though.

  • totlmstr

    Team Fortress 2 already does this, so it’s not too suprising, as long as it is just cosmetic stuff.