Blizzard Announces Free Kiriko Amid Battle Pass Controversy

Blizzard Announces Free Kiriko Amid Battle Pass Controversy
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Kiriko stands in front of a Japanese-style village.

Image: A blizzard

Blizzard just announced that the new (and leaked widely) ninja character Kiriko will be free for everyone Overwatch 2 players who already own a copy of the original Overwatch. While this may seem like cause for celebration, the controversial free-to-play sequel’s move to lock down access to most future characters behind the battle pass system less well received. In new comments reported today, Blizzard leaders explained why they think the new system will ultimately be acceptable.

“What we actually see in the data is that the majority of the players are there Overwatch Most of their playtime is spent on two heroes or less.” Jon Spector, VP Overwatch, He said this during the press conference. “And for most of our players with 12 heroes or less, you can get 99.9% of the game time.”

So here’s the official line on why Blizzard feels justified in switching from the original OverwatchA model of giving all players every character to a system that locks new heroes behind the battle pass: Original Overwatch players haven’t played enough different characters so they probably won’t miss them.

But there’s a bit of mixed messaging going on. Characters are still the core of how Blizzard monetizes the new game. Overwatch‘s CEO Walter Kong made a statement to the press at an event that “Heroes are the single most compelling content we have in the game… We want to be able to continue to invest in this live game service. From a business perspective, it’s not free.”

To be sure, it will some of them starter freebies for both new and returning players. New heroes Sojourn and Junker Queen will be unlocked for free for first-timers all season long, and ninja support character Kiriko will be free for players who own the original. Overwatch.. But new players who want to try Kiriko will have to either pay $10 for a premium battle pass or grind the free one to level 55. At least they’ll still be able to play all 32 characters from the original. list

Read more: Everything Shown in the Century Overwatch 2 ‘Open’ event

Kiriko is a healer who can deal decent critical damage and sustain allies mid-fight, and she described Genji as a “battle healer” for the highway. This marks a major shift in how Blizzard will design new heroes, as it tries to avoid situations where any one character can act as a “hard counter” to another.

“We’re really trying to get some of the hard rock, paper, scissors interactions out of the game and [replace] they have more player options,” said game director Aaron Keller Polygon. “We’ve beefed up our support heroes to make them more survivable.”

While reducing addiction Overwatch having it on counters generally sounds like a positive move, locking an ever-increasing proportion of the hero roster behind battle pass tiers, free or premium, feels like a step backwards for player choice.

Overwatch 2 will be released on October 4 this year.

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