Last month at BlizzCon, Overwatch game Director Jeff Kaplan told us that they were "not sure if and when and how we're going to add new heroes to the game at all." It doesn't seem to have taken long to figure out, because today Blizzard announced that it will indeed be adding new heroes and maps post-launch, and that—in a welcome surprise—they'll all be patched in completely free.
In a developer update video which you can watch above, Kaplan made it clear that any additional maps and heroes added after Overwatch launches next Spring would not be sold as DLC. He said "we don’t have an exact timeline of when new heroes will be added to the game, how soon after launch, or how many... We just know that when we patch a new hero into the game, we want it to be free and not as DLC."
The announcement represents another debunked assumption about Overwatch's business model, following the announcement at BlizzCon last month that the game would not be free to play, and would instead be sold at $40 for the base game. An optional $60 Origins Edition that unlocks five hero skins and digital goodies for Blizzard's other games will also be available.
The decision not to put new heroes and maps behind paywalls is obviously a welcome one, given that splitting the community between free and paid content in a competitive game would likely have damaged its long-term health.
Blizzard also recently announced that the closed beta will be shutting down next week, but will reopen sometime in January.