Rocket League transitioned to a 100% free-to-play model in September 2020. This means you can download and play the full game on all platforms without needing to pay anything upfront. Ongoing development is now funded through optional cosmetic purchases. Read on for an in-depth guide to everything that‘s now available for free in Rocket League, monetization details, tips to start your high-flying career, and perspective on why going free has been great for expanding the community.
A Breakthrough Hybrid Sport That‘s Now Free For All
Back when I first discovered Rocket League in 2015, I was blown away by the incredibly fun fusion of arcade soccer with rocket-powered cars that could drive on walls and ceilings. The fluid physics and competitive multiplayer matches made it an instant hit. What wasn‘t apparent at the time was how massive Rocket League would eventually become as an esport, with over 75 million players to date.
The developers at Psyonix have continued building out the experience with new modes, customizations, quality-of-life features, and expanded platforms. Then in September 2020, they made the bold decision to shift Rocket League to a free-to-play model. This removed the previous $19.99 base price in order to reduce the barrier to entry for new players.
Personally, I think going free-to-play was a brilliant move that has helped introduce so many more people to the joys of this inventive sports/driving mashup. As someone who loves discovering great free games, apps, and entertainment options to share with readers, Rocket League is now a top recommendation!
No Subscriptions or Purchases Required to Play
The coolest part is that nothing is locked behind a paywall in the core Rocket League experience. Here‘s what you can access at no cost:
- Download on PC (Steam or Epic Games Store), PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch
- Competitive online matches and rankings
- Casual unranked playlists for soccer, hoops, hockey, rumble, etc.
- Limited-time event modes
- Local multiplayer with splitscreen options
- Offline Seasons against AI bots
- Cross-platform progression and inventory via Epic Games account
Rocket League has joined Fortnite, Apex Legends, and other major multiplayer titles in using a Season-based structure. The optional Rocket Pass provides 100 tiers of cosmetic rewards spanning a few months. And the Item Shop rotates daily offerings. But free players can still enjoy the full competitive experience and content updates.
Let‘s explore the monetization options that fund ongoing development and servers.
OPTIONAL In-Game Purchases Without Pay-To-Win
Psyonix has carefully designed the post free-to-play purchases to avoid pay-to-win or dividing the community between haves and have-nots. No vehicles, customizations, or other content actually provides a gameplay advantage. Here‘s a breakdown:
Item Shop: The in-game store offers a selection of cosmetic items that rotates daily. These include car bodies, decals, wheels, goal explosions, boost trails, and more. Prices range from $1 for simple common items up to $20 for exotic variants with animations. As a data analyst, I estimate Psyonix earns around $50,000 daily from the shop based on industry averages.
DLC Car Packs: Additional unique vehicles like the Batmobile, Jurrasic Park Jeep, Fast & Furious, and NBA endorsements are sold as one-time DLC bundles. These themed car packs provide no edge, just personality.
Rocket Pass Premium: Players can upgrade each season‘s free Rocket Pass to the premium version for 1000 in-game credits, about $10. This doubles XP gain to progress tiers faster and unlocks an extra 70+ cosmetic items including titles, decals, wheels, and goal celebrations.
I‘m a big fan of how Psyonix has maintained a fair playing field for all skill levels regardless of purchases. The monetization incentivizes only visual customization. Now let‘s explore all the ways both free and paid players can enjoy Rocket League!
Enjoy Competitive and Casual Game Modes
One of the reasons I‘m so hooked on Rocket League is the diversity of online and offline modes. Here are some of my favorites as a free player:
Competitive Rankings: Face off in 3v3, 2v2, or solo 1v1 matches to increase your rank against similarly-skilled opponents. The seasons reset every few months, so you‘ll need to complete placement matches again to earn a new reward level based on highest finish.
Casual Playlists: When I just want to relax and have fun, the rotating casual modes are perfect to jump into. Some favorites are the basketball-inspired Hoops, icy Hockey puck shots, Rumble power-ups, Dropshot floor breaks, and Heatseeker rapid volleys.
Limited Events: For a couple weeks at a time, Psyonix activates special event modes that provide a fun change of pace, like the pinball-esque Spike Rush, American football Gridiron, and oversized Beach Ball. I look forward to these themed extras.
Local Matches: When I have friends over, we enjoy facing off in local splitscreen multiplayer. You can also practice skills against AI bots in offline Seasons. This is helpful for learning the controls and ball physics.
As someone who loves both competitive rankings and just having fun in Rocket League‘s many modes as a free player, the variety keeps me coming back. Now let‘s get into some key tips for newcomers.
Essential Tips from a Rocket League Veteran
The high skill ceiling is part of what makes Rocket League so addictive long-term. But for newbies, controlling your car and hitting the ball can be challenging! Here are my top pieces of advice after hundreds of hours for getting better fast:
- Do the in-game tutorial – Covers the absolute basics of boosting, jumping, tackling, aerials, and goalie saves. This is essential even for experienced gamers to learn the unique physics.
- Practice car control – In free play mode, experiment with how the ball reacts to different hits and learn to drive on walls/ceilings. This opens up advanced techniques.
- Train aerial car hits – Flying upward to meet balls in the air is extremely useful. But it‘s tricky to jump and boost simultaneously at first. Try All-Star aerial custom training packs.
- Watch professional streamers – Study the positioning, rotations, strategies and mechanics used in high-level play. Many pros happily explain techniques.
- Tweak camera settings – A wider field of view (110+), more distance (260+), and higher angle helps you see more around your car and take better approaches to the ball.
- Don‘t always chase the ball – Effective team play requires patience. Keep your positioning instead of crowding the ball. You‘ll make better contact with time and practice.
Take it from me – following this advice will help shortcut your skills compared to just playing randomly. Training deliberately is the key to continuous improvement. Now let‘s look at the highest competitive level.
Huge Esports Scene with Millions in Prizes
The exhilarating RLCS (Rocket League Championship Series) represents the pinnacle of skill in the community. Each year, the best clubs compete across seperate seasons for North America and Europe. Teams of 3 players face off in weeks-long leagues leading up to adrenaline-pumping LAN finals.
Psyonix provides funding and infrastructure for tournaments at all levels. Here‘s a breakdown of the ecosystem including prize pools, as a Rocket League esports fan:
- RLCS (Pro): 10 teams per region, over $4 million prize pools per season
- RLCS Regional Events: Doyle with open qualifiers, $125k prize pools
- Rival Series (Minor League): Path for prospects to reach RLCS, $75k prizes
- Collegiate Rocket League: College teams and athletes competing, $50k championship
- The Field: Largest event at over 3,000 teams, $175k total prizes
- Our weekly ESL cups: $50 per week for the winner!
The open qualifiers provide opportunities for anyone with the dedication to rise through and prove themselves. If I wasn‘t busy with my tech work, I‘d love taking a shot! Spectating matches provides amazing entertainment.
Now that we‘ve covered everything involved in playing Rocket League for free, let‘s discuss why this business model has been so successful.
Free-to-Play Revitalized Rocket League‘s Prospects
Based on the player count trackers I follow, Rocket League hit peak popularity around 2018. Hype was cooling off a bit by 2020. Going free-to-play reinvigorated the community. Here are some of the big benefits I‘ve observed:
- 35 million+ new players – Dropping the $19.99 price instantly attracted tons of newcomers to try Rocket League. This more than doubled the userbase.
- Focus on optional cosmetics – Letting everyone compete on equal footing avoids splitting the community. Psyonix‘s approach is fair compared to truly pay-to-win games.
- Ongoing development funding – Regular purchasable items in the shop and Rocket Passes provide revenue to keep creating new content and features years later.
- Increased esports engagement – Bigger player population feeds into more esports interest both as competitors and viewers. TheRLCS Fall Major peaked at over 170,000 live viewers.
- Media buzz – Gaming sites generated excitement around the monumental shift to free-to-play. Rocket League trended on social media as lapsed players returned.
The risk of going free has certainly paid off based on Rocket League‘s player count and revenue numbers. And I‘m excited to see where Psyonix takes things next!
As both a deal-finding blogger and car soccer fanatic, Rocket League‘s transition to a fully free-to-play game is a hugely positive change. Anyone can now experience the fun fusion of genres with no barriers. Psyonix has expertly balanced monetization through only optional cosmetic items rather than pay-to-win. For new players, my tips will give you a head start on mastering the one-of-a-kind physics and controls. I highly recommend giving Rocket League a try now that it‘s free! Just beware of getting hooked on the competitive action like I did. The high skill ceiling means there‘s always room to improve your aerial maneuvers and strategy. Let me know which modes end up being your favorites!