Later this week, Blizzard is expected to finally pull the curtain back on the long-rumored Overwatch 2 at BlizzCon 2019. While fans wait for an official reveal from Blizzard, there has been no shortage of leaks about Overwatch 2, with one of the more shocking leaks claiming that the game will actually replace the original Overwatch. Some leakers have said that Overwatch 2 is the equivalent of Fortnite: Chapter 2 for Overwatch, meaning that the original OW could essentially cease to exist.
We must stress that this hasn't been confirmed by Blizzard at this time, and it's possible that this information is inaccurate. However, it has come from multiple sources, and so at this point, it would be more surprising if Blizzard releases a traditional sequel instead. Even so, fans shouldn't get too worked up until Blizzard itself reveals more about Overwatch 2 come BlizzCon 2019 on November 1.
It's easy to see why some fans are already upset about this news, even though it's still just a rumor at this point. However, this approach by Blizzard may actually be the most ideal scenario for Overwatch 2, and there's a few different reasons why.
One of the main reasons why it may make sense for Blizzard to replace Overwatch with Overwatch 2 is due to loot boxes. Overwatch in its current state couldn't function without loot boxes funding its new content, but loot boxes have become an increasingly more controversial practice over these last few years. The Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box controversy even caused various governments around the world to launch investigations into loot boxes, with some countries banning them outright.
It's possible that Blizzard has seen the writing on the wall and realizes that it will eventually have to move away from loot boxes. But again, Overwatch loot boxes are firmly ingrained in the game, and simply removing them may be a significant undertaking. Introducing a new version of Overwatch with an economy that's not based on loot boxes seems like the more ideal alternative, as this way Blizzard doesn't have to worry about the game being banned in regions where loot boxes are illegal.
Instant Player Base
Whenever a game company releases a new game, it's essentially starting over in terms of its player base. However, if Overwatch 2 is a big update for Overwatch as opposed to a completely brand new game, then it will have a built-in player base already. The millions of people that play Overwatch will instantly have access to Overwatch 2, and the significance of the content may even convince lapsed players to check the game out again. Going free to play would give the potential Overwatch 2 an even bigger player base to work with, but this would still be a really good start.
Keep the Community Together
The first Overwatch game is exclusively a PvP experience, outside of seasonal co-op modes like Junkenstein's Revenge. If Blizzard released a sequel to the game with PvP, then it would potentially make the first Overwatch obsolete. Alternatively, it could end up splitting the community, which could have a negative impact on both the first Overwatch and Overwatch 2. By having Overwatch 2 replace the original Overwatch, this way Blizzard can push the series forward with its new engine and not have to worry about splitting up the community.
Wealth of Content
Blizzard has been updating the original Overwatch game frequently since its launch in 2016, adding new playable heroes, new maps, and more. All of that work would potentially go to waste with Overwatch 2, unless the new game keeps everything. This would make sure that Overwatch 2 would launch with a ton of content right out of the gate, and it would mean that Overwatch fans wouldn't have to worry about not being able to play as their favorite heroes on their favorite maps.
Of course, there will be some new content coming to Overwatch 2 as well. A new game mode called Push has been leaked, as has a new map that's supposedly based on Toronto. So if Overwatch 2 carries over most of the content from the original game, there really should be no shortage of things for players to do.
One Major Downside
While there are multiple reasons why this approach by Blizzard could be a good thing, there are some downsides to acknowledge as well. Perhaps the biggest downside is the rumor that Overwatch progress won't carry over to Overwatch 2. This means that players will have to restart at level 1 and they won't be able to keep their cosmetics, including skins. This has potential to be hugely controversial as some Overwatch players have paid real money to get loot boxes so that they could get their hands on their favorite skins, and it will be interesting to see how Blizzard handles the backlash if it is true.
Maybe Blizzard will update Overwatch 1 to Overwatch 2 and let players keep their progress and skins. Anything is possible at this point, and fans will definitely want to make sure to tune in to BlizzCon 2019 on Friday, November 1 to find out more.
Overwatch 2 is rumored to be in development for unspecified platforms.