Once Overwatch 2 arrives, you'll never be able to play Overwatch 1 again

Winston thinking hard
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

In a Reddit AMA on June 22, members of the Overwatch 2 developer team provided some new details and added context for the upcoming game, including a confirmation that the original Overwatch will be fully replaced by Overwatch 2 when it launches on October 4.

As part of a response to a question about the game's "Early Access" title, director Aaron Keller stated that "When OW2 launches on October 4th it will be a replacement for the current live service."

It was previously difficult to parse what the final form of this not-quite sequel will look like, and this move does little to assuage criticism that Overwatch 2 is more of a glorified update than a wholly original sequel. A tweet from the official Overwatch account shortly after OW2's reveal claimed that "Overwatch 1 players and Overwatch 2 players will play alongside on the same maps." That framing seemed to imply that the original game would carry on in some fashion and interface with Overwatch 2, but that both would exist in some form.

In 2020, former Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan stated that any sort of "Overwatch Classic" (think World of Warcraft Classic) with the game returned to an early state would be "very costly from a technical and art perspective" and that "there were a lot of art and UI changes that were not properly 'versioned' off but rather overwritten." It's unclear if Kaplan is suggesting that the various versions of the original game are lost to time and not properly archived, but even two years ago, it seemed like the developer wasn't interested in preserving what came before.

Now Overwatch 2's extensive changes to game balance and modes will permanently overwrite everything about the original game, and we at PC Gamer still aren't sold on the shift from 6v6 to 5v5. The game plays faster now, but it also prioritizes fast-twitch FPS skills over the gamesense and ability focus that let MMO and MOBA players find a home in earlier iterations of Overwatch.

You can no longer purchase Overwatch 1 on its own either—Overwatch 2's "Watchpoint Pack" with premium skins and in-game currency is now the only way to acquire the original game if you haven't already.

This move makes sense logistically, with Blizzard investing itself fully into the Overwatch 2 live service and funneling players in one direction, but there is precedent for a big live service game keeping its original form available alongside a sequel. The original Destiny's console servers are still up and running, with an end-of-life "Age of Triumph" initiated prior to the launch of Destiny 2. Players can still go back and sample a decidedly different game from the actively supported Destiny 2. 

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.