Gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter has never been shy about making predictions. Granted, neither have I, but I don’t get coverage by major media outlets. Maybe I need to do something different with my hair.
GamesIndustry.biz asked Pachter and several others their thoughts on what 2019 will bring for gaming, as well as grading them on their predictions about 2018. Pachter did a fairly good job in 2018, and he’s got a few doozies for 2019. Overall, I’d say his biggest long shot is that The Elder Scrolls VI will launch in the coming year because the “flop of Fallout 76 makes a hit more essential for Bethesda.” He admits that was his prediction for 2016 and 2017 as well, but if what we’ve heard — that TES6 development work has barely begun — I think there’s zero chance we see it in 2019, or even 2020. I mean, there must be some platforms that Skyrim hasn’t launched onto yet.
It’s another prediction of his that has us taking notice here at MMOBomb. Specifically:
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.
Pachter says the move will happen around mid-June, with existing players getting bonus stuff to compensate them. Also, there are 20 Overwatch League teams and owners, not 18 as Pachter states.
I was heavy on the “Overwatch will be free-to-play” bandwagon back in the day, but over the past few years, I can see some issues with that stance. First, having a full hero pool to choose from is essential to gameplay, so I don’t think that the typical “some heroes free, buy the others” approach for a F2P game would work for Overwatch.
The only other way the game brings in money is through loot boxes, so what do you do with those? Make them more expensive for free players? I suppose I wouldn’t think there’s a 0% chance that Blizzard figures out a good way to make the move and Pachter’s prediction comes true, but I think it’s rather unlikely.
As for Call of Duty’s Blackout mode, I could see that going free-to-play because, well, it’s a battle royale. That’s about all I know about the game, but it’s probably enough.
What do you think? Is Overwatch free-to-play in 2019 a realistic possibility? Would you even want it? Or do you think Pachter is way off base on this one?