Overwatch is not free-to-play but, if dataminers poking through the patch that recently hit the PTR are correct, a free trial mode of some sort may soon be available. Three strings relating to a free trial have been dug up, according to Overwatch fan site Overpwn:
- Sorry, the Overwatch Free Trial is not available at this time.
- Group members using trial cannot enter competitive play.
- Not available for trial.
Given that there currently is no Overwatch free trial option, the presence of messages relating to one can very easily be taken to indicate that one is coming. They could also be leftover bits from the days when Overwatch was maybe being considered for a free-to-play release, but Blizzard put the kibosh on that idea last year, and this is hardly the first time that fans have dug deep into an update—the implication being that if this was pre-release detritus, I'd think somebody would have found it by now.
Other information extracted from the update includes a spot of information on Overwatch season two, icons for the rank tiers that game director Jeff Kaplan talked about earlier this week, changes to a few in-game strings and the addition of many new ones, and a “stream overlay for D.Va” that reveals she's already received over 9000 donations.
A free trial for Overwatch makes sense: Several other Blizzard games offer free modes of various sorts, and now that Overwatch has been out for a few months, my guess would be that most gamers who haven't already jumped on it aren't going to without a little convincing. Giving them a chance to see what it's all about without having to fork over any cash would be a good way to goose the growth rate—the tricky bit is doing it without pissing off the folks who've already paid for it. I've emailed Blizzard to find out more, and I'll update if and when I receive a reply.