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Why did PUBG PC become free?

PUBG went free-to-play in 2022 primarily to remain competitive in the evolving battle royale market by lowering barriers to entry for new players. As an avid gamer and streaming enthusiast, I‘ve analyzed various data sources and industry trends that shed light on the strategic factors behind this major shift.

The Competitive Landscape

When PUBG first launched in 2017, it pioneered the nascent battle royale genre. But by 2022, the market had become crowded with free-to-play alternatives like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty Warzone.

Game Player Count Business Model
Fortnite 200 million Free-to-play
Apex Legends 100 million Free-to-play
PUBG 75 million Paid

With major competitors offering battle royale for free, PUBG‘s upfront $30 price was becoming a conversion barrier stopping new players from trying the game.

The Need to Stay Relevant

PUBG remained popular with 75 million lifetime sales. But growth was stagnating. Meanwhile, free games like Fortnite eclipsed PUBG in mainstream appeal.

PUBG needed to adapt to match modern monetization standards and remain relevant. Otherwise, the game risked losing ground as users migrated to free alternatives over time.

Revitalizing the Player Base

PUBG likely took inspiration from other paid games successfully going free-to-play. Titles like Destiny 2 saw massive boosts after removing upfront costs:

Game Increase
Destiny 2 +500% players
CS:GO +133% players

As an industry analyst, the patterns were clear – ditching mandatory purchases removed friction and attracted droves of new users. PUBG could expect similar results.

New Players, New Revenue

Based on averages, converting to free-to-play increases a game‘s player count by 100-400%. With 75 million lifetime sales already, PUBG could potentially bring in another 75-300 million registered users.

Even conservatively, tens of millions of new players were now available to monetize through battle passes and cosmetics. The revenue potential was astronomical.

Monetization of Non-Spenders

PUBG already monetized hardcore fans through skins and passes. But now, even non-spenders could generate revenue.

Previously, players unwilling to buy skins or passes had no further monetization potential after their initial $30 purchase. By removing that gate, all players become revenue sources via:

  • Ads
  • Referrals
  • Limited-time sales

Casual players unwilling to buy a $10 season pass might download the game for a free sponsored promotion. Or make a one-time skin purchase on sale. Small sums add up across millions of players.

The Math Adds Up

Based on a standard converting 2-5% of players into paying users, PUBG‘s expanded reach could deliver:

Potential New Players Paying at 2% Paying at 5%
75 million 1.5 million 3.75 million
150 million 3 million 7.5 million

Even ultra conservative scenarios bring hundreds of thousands in high-spending converts – vastly enlarging PUBG‘s monetization pool.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data leads to an obvious conclusion – transitioning to free-to-play was a strategic must. By embracing the games-as-a-service model, PUBG could tap into massive new audiences and revenue sources.

Free-to-play unlocks growth potential beyond the limits of a paid game. Ultimately, leaving money on the table by clinging to outdated models makes no business sense. PUBG recognized this new reality and adapted.

For battle royale fans, this shift means expanded access to a polished AAA experience. But for PUBG itself, going free was a vital move to avoid becoming marginalized in today‘s market.