Overwatch 2 will release on Steam on August 10, and Blizzard isn't going to stop there, promising that "a selection" of its other games will come to Steam in the future.
What chaos! Can immutable PC gaming laws really turn out to be mutable just like that? Are there no divisions, no borders, no distinctions remaining at all?
Blizzard and Valve never had a Sega and Nintendo-style rivalry, but Overwatch 2's Steam page is still weird in the way Sonic's first Nintendo console appearance was. Battle.net was introduced in 1996, well before Steam existed, and Blizzard was probably the last remaining company that could disregard Steam without everyone moaning about it. Its legacy put it in a category of its own.
You'll still need a Battle.net account to play Overwatch 2 on Steam, and Steam and Battle.net players will be able to play together. The Steam version of Overwatch 2 isn't just a glorified shortcut, though: It will include Steam Achievements and allow you to invite friends from your Steam friends list.
Blizzard offers a generic explanation for the decision: It's decided to change its ways because "the industry has evolved." When Battle.net launched in the '90s, gaming communities were more isolated, according to the company, but now "gaming is for everyone" and it's time to "break down the barriers" that keep players from discovering Blizzard's games.
"While Battle.net remains a priority for us now and into the future, we've heard players want the choice of Steam for a selection of our games," said Blizzard president Mike Ybarra. "We're happy to work with Valve to make that happen."
Overwatch 2's August 10 Steam release coincides with the launch of the $15 Overwatch 2: Invasion bundle, which gets players access to new story missions, in-game currency, access to last year's new hero, Sojourn, as well as a new Legendary skin for the Canadian railgunner. Blizzard recently canceled some of its more ambitious Overwatch 2 PvE plans, and it's been a rough few months for the game, but one of our resident players is feeling optimistic about those upcoming story missions anyhow.
Blizzard hasn't revealed which games are next up for Steam releases, but says that it'll be "sharing more about potential other games coming to the platform when the time is right."
Hearthstone feels like an obvious choice, as do remasters like Diablo 2 Resurrected and Warcraft 3: Reforged. Diablo 4 would be surprising, given that it seems like it still has a lot of momentum on Battle.net, where Blizzard doesn't have to give Gabe a portion of its revenue. Then again, if Call of Duty's stint as a Battle.net exclusive was really as big a failure as we're told, maybe nothing is off limits.
World of Warcraft would be the most surprising to me, not because it would necessarily be a bad idea, but just because it's such an institution that seeing it on Steam would trip me out. Who knows, though? After buying Bethesda a couple years ago, Microsoft is just a few signatures away from finalizing its purchase of Activision Blizzard, and new management could mean more surprising moves. (Microsoft is already shaking things up at Bethesda: It says that Starfield will be less buggy than usual Bethesda launches. An audacious claim!)