Blizzard Entertainment, the renowned game developer, is making a significant change in its long-standing strategy by stepping away from its exclusive ties with Battle.net. Starting with the launch of Overwatch 2 on Steam in August, Blizzard aims to “break down barriers” across gaming communities and make its games more accessible to players on different platforms.
From Battle.net Exclusivity to Steam Integration
Since its inception in 1996, Battle.net has served as Blizzard’s central platform for hosting its PC titles, keeping them exclusively available through its own storefront. This decision set Blizzard apart from many other gaming companies that embraced Valve’s Steam platform.
However, on August 10th, players will be able to experience Overwatch 2 on Valve’s Steam platform.
The Purpose Behind Blizzard’s Decision
In a recent blog post, the company emphasized its commitment to “breaking down barriers” and fostering a more inclusive gaming experience.
We’ve been working with Valve for months to be Blizzard’s first game ever to launch on Steam. It’s been incredibly tough to keep quiet about a project that we’re all so passionate about but now we can finally talk about it openly!
— Jared Neuss (@OhReallyJared) July 19, 2023
With Overwatch 2 launching on Steam, players will no longer need to download and install Battle.net to access the game. Instead, they can enjoy the seamless integration of native Steam features such as Steam Achievements and the Steam friends list. This move is expected to make it easier for players to connect and play together across platforms.
Battle.net Account for Synchronization
Although players won’t need Battle.net to access Overwatch 2 on Steam, a Battle.net account will still be required for profile synchronization. Similar to other gaming platforms like Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, creating a Battle.net account will enable players to enjoy cross-platform play and access other features within Overwatch 2.
More Titles Coming to Steam
While Overwatch 2 is the first Blizzard title to be formally announced on Steam, the company has hinted that more titles will be revealed “when the time is right.”
The successful release of Diablo IV has sparked speculation that Blizzard might consider bringing the game to Steam as well. Additionally, the inclusion of World of Warcraft, Blizzard’s long-standing MMO, would be a significant addition to Steam’s library.
Amidst Microsoft’s Acquisition: The Changing Landscape
Blizzard’s decision to embrace Steam comes at a time when Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is underway. The companies have extended their merger agreement to seek regulatory approval for the monumental $68.7 billion deal.
Layoffs in the Esports Division
Blizzard’s change in approach and the upcoming acquisition by Microsoft brought about much excitement. However, the company encountered difficulties in its esports division. In a recent move, around 50 employees were released from Blizzard’s esports division, raising worries about the future of the Overwatch League (OWL).
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published: Friday, July 21, 2023, 14:59 [IST]