Player Unknown Battle Grounds is going free to play on 12th January 2021 after releasing on 23rd March 2017 as early access. It seems Krafton (developers of PUBG) have decided to go with the PUBG Mobile route for free to play model on all platforms not just on PC. The channel uploaded the reveal video as an unlisted video on 8th December. It went public after Geoff Keighley’s announcement on The Game Awards show on Friday.
This game was a huge success when it launched and the genre of Battle Royale games kicked off with many publishers and studios jumping onto the bandwagon to get easy cash. But PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty Warzone and Apex Legends remained victorious till the end and continue to thrive. PUBG is the only game here that isn’t free-to-play and on top, it has a paid battle pass system.
This is not the first forte into the free-to-play model by Krafton. PUBG Lite, aimed at the lower-end pc gaming systems, was also released in 2019 but later canned this year. This is maybe to bring back as the f2p and not separate them as different entities and players. PUBG Lite was not released on base PS4 and Xbox because the game ran horrendous on those systems. We hope that releasing PUBG as f2p includes the optimizations and capability to run on low-end hardware. PUBG Mobile, a f2p game aimed at mobiles and tablets, gathered huge popularity but it was released and developed by Tencent and not Krafton. The game was banned in India alongside multiple Chinese-built apps (due to Indo-China political tension).
Krafton now aims to target all systems through the same model to make the whole ecosystem coherent and similar. But the announcement comes with a catch. Extra modes like deathmatch, seasonal events and ranked modes will be locked behind a $12.99 paywall (regional price is unknown). The premium will upgrade the account to the PUBG plus similar to CSGO’s prime status. This upgrade will also give special skins and rewards in-game. These items and the account upgrade will be carried forward to the existing owners of PUBG on steam. These extra in-game items that will be rewarded to all players upgrading were not disclosed as of right now.
Now they will give fierce competition to the existing free-to-play battle-royale games. The game still has 200k concurrent players and goes up to 1million players peak during events (reported by steamdb). In total Player Unknown Battlegrounds has sold more than 75 million copies on all platforms.