Shoehorning in appearances by pop-culture favourites du jour isn’t something you’d normally associate with Overwatch, but Blizzard are considering it in some form or another for Overwatch 2. Overwatch VP Jon Spector discussed brand crossovers during an interview with Game Informer, saying that Blizzard is “interested in exploring” partnerships like those you might see in Fortnite. Although, he did qualify that it would have to be in keeping with the Overwatch franchise.
"We've seen some really fun examples out there of games working with other brands or other games," Spector said. "I'm a big anime nerd myself. I think it's super cool when I see Naruto appear in Fortnite. I don't even play Fortnite, but that's awesome. And as we look at the Overwatch 2 space, those are things that we're interested in exploring. If and when we do that, one of our key values is to do it in a way that feels like a great fit for the Overwatch franchise."
Spector went on to explain that the Overwatch 2 team would prefer to focus on collaborations for the game than what he called “ads-in-our-game type stuff”. Blizzard are intending to push out content updates for the game every nine weeks and run with seasonal themes, so they’ll have to be consistently busy working on generating things that will keep players interested. Season one’s theme is cyberpunk which, hey, might have captured the zeitgeist somewhat. Spector said that the Overwatch 2 team was attempting to “deliver more content for free than ever before, on a regular and consistent basis”.
It’s fair to say that Overwatch 2 is making some major departures from the original game, controversial battle pass among them. As Graham reported yesterday, Blizzard are also implementing something they’re calling the “Defense Matrix” to prevent abuse now that the series is going free-to-play. That means players have to give their phone number, and in-game voice chat will be transcribed and scanned using machine learning to look for dodgy behaviour. Oh and, erm, in-game chat and game modes will be locked initially for new players, who'll have to complete around 100 matches to obtain all of Overwatch’s original heroes too.
Activision Blizzard are still contending with legal issues and reports alleging workplace discrimination, harassment and poor working conditions. They’re also in the process of being acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion (£64.3 billion), a surprise deal revealed back in January. Around that time, Blizzard Entertainment head Mike Ybarra said he was committed to fostering change within the company behind Overwatch.
There’s now less than a week until Overwatch 2 launches on October 4th. You’ll be able to play through Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher.