Analyst Michael Patcher has shared his latest predictions for the 2019 gaming year in a new article on GamesIndustry.Biz and shared an interesting prediction about what may happen with Activision Blizzard in 2019.
In his latest round of predictions, he states that Activision will make both Overwatch and Blackout free to play at some point in 2019.
With Overwatch League’s continued success in terms of team sales, Activision Blizzard may be forced to move to a free to play model to bring more players into Overwatch to sustain the esports league for that title long term.
In terms of Blackout, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has been a mediocre success thus far for Activision. It has slowly surpassed Call of Duty: WWII in sales, but initially lagged behind Black Ops 3’s sales. Blackout going free to play would bring many news players into the title as Blackout is one of the few polished-AAA first person shooter battle royale modes available on the market. Fortnite remains one of the only Battle Royale mode to be free to play across a variety of platforms and continues to be the most popular game in the world.
Activision will make Overwatch and Blackout free-to-play. I think that the 18 Overwatch League owners have been assured by Blizzard that it will expand the audience for Overwatch. The most expedient way to do this is to make the core game free-to-play in order to attract tens of millions of new users, who ostensibly will convert to OWL viewers. I expect this by mid-June (the third anniversary of the launch of the original game. Disgruntled players who bought the core game will likely be compensated by being given free stuff (skins or other cosmetic items). Blackout will go FTP at least a month prior to the launch of next year’s Call of Duty, in order to promote the new game.
None of this is officially confirmed as of now. Activision has not made any indications if they would move to a free to play model for their titles, but the industry seems to be changing and having to adapt to the success of Fortnite. Back during an investor call in May 2018, Activision’s President stated that they still believe there’s room for $60 games to be available on the market, and that Call of Duty continues to deliver value to customers.