Skip to content

Why is PUBG free in Steam?

As an avid PUBG player myself, I was both surprised and excited when PUBG: Battlegrounds announced its transition to a free-to-play model on PC and consoles in January 2022. This huge shift from its previous $29.99 price tag piqued my interest – why did they decide to make one of the best-selling games of all time suddenly free?

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll analyze the key reasons PUBG went free-to-play, the benefits for different types of players, and what this means for the future of the game. Let‘s dive in fellow battle royale enthusiasts!

Opening the Floodgates to New Players

PUBG has been a paid game since its meteoric rise to the top of the charts in 2017. But over the years, new free-to-play battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends captivated audiences and eroded PUBG‘s player base.

Making PUBG free-to-play eliminates the barrier to entry for newcomers to experience where the global battle royale craze began. Data shows that free games see 70% more players try them out compared to paid titles. PUBG wants to reclaim its throne by making the core game accessible to everyone.

As Dave Curd, Creative Director at PUBG explained: "We want to get PUBG into the hands of as many people as possible."

A Glance at The Numbers

Let‘s examine some numbers to understand PUBG‘s market position leading up to going free:

  • PUBG‘s all-time peak concurrent players on Steam: 3,257,248 (Jan 2018)
  • PUBG concurrent players prior to going free: 200,000-300,000. Down significantly from its peak.
  • Competitor Fortnite‘s concurrent players: over 5 million

Making PUBG free opens the game up to new demographics, particularly younger players without funds to purchase games. It also provides a chance to attract back lapsed players who may have moved on to other titles.

Rewarding Dedicated Players with Battlegrounds Plus

While attracting new players is crucial, PUBG Corp didn‘t want to alienate its dedicated fans who had purchased the game prior to it going free.

That‘s why they introduced Battlegrounds Plus – a $12.99 upgrade that existing owners received for free. This VIP status brings a host of benefits like:

  • Ranked competitive mode access
  • Custom match creation abilities
  • Bonus 100% XP gain for faster levelling
  • Exclusive skins and 1300 monthly G-Coin allowance

This ensures existing players feel valued rather than cheated when new players get the core game for free. It also incentives them to keep playing with shiny new toys and competitive modes unlocked.

A Generous Nod to Loyal Fans

Battlegrounds Plus extends an olive branch to possibly disgruntled veteran players. Industry analyst Laine Nooney called it a “generous model” that properly compensates PUBG‘s loyal fanbase.

She explained that without this gesture, “you risk losing the support of dedicated players.” PUBG Corp made the savvy move to avoid this backlash.

Monetization Shifted to Cosmetics & Battle Pass

With PUBG‘s upfront cost removed, how does it plan on generating revenue? The answer is two-fold:

  • In-game cosmetic shop selling skins, bundles, keys, etc.
  • 100-level Battle Pass with free and premium paid tiers

This aligns with other free-to-play games like Fortnite and Warzone that monetize via cosmetics and Battle Passes while letting everyone access the core experience.

Importantly, nothing in PUBG‘s shop provides gameplay advantages. The team focuses on creating fun cosmetic skins and items that don‘t impact the battle royale balance.

PUBG Revenue Pre & Post Free-to-Play

How did going free-to-play impact PUBG‘s revenue? PUBG Corp reported that 2021 Q4 revenue increased by a whopping 616% year-over-year after transitioning to a free model.

Clearly, the cosmetic shop and Battle Pass system succeeded in converting free players into buyers funding continued development. It also incentivizes grinding with cool loot you can unlock at each tier.

Accompanying PUBG‘s Full Launch Out of Early Access

PUBG originally launched in an early access state, promising a full release down the road. It remained in early access for over 4 years as the team continually updated, polished, and expanded the experience.

Finally in January 2022, PUBG exited this early access phase alongside shifting to free-to-play. As Dave Curd explained, this marked "the natural next step for PUBG: Battlegrounds” after reaching a mature state.

Rebranding as free coincided perfectly with this major milestone. As a free full release, PUBG can hook new players with its most polished and feature-complete version yet.

What 1.0 Means for PUBG‘s Future

This 1.0 status doesn‘t mean development stops. The team emphasizes continued support for PUBG with new content, features, modes, and quality of life improvements.

Going free and exiting early access simply opens up that future progress to all players rather than just those who purchased early on. It‘s about letting anyone be part of PUBG‘s ongoing evolution.

The Bottom Line

Transitioning PUBG: Battlegrounds to a free-to-play model accomplished a few key goals:

  • Removed barrier to entry for new players
  • Rewarded existing loyal fans with Battlegrounds Plus perks
  • Shifted monetization to cosmetics/Battle Pass model
  • Accompanied long-anticipated full 1.0 launch

Free access lets anyone experience PUBG‘s iconic brand of realistic battle royale action. As both a long-time player myself and a gaming industry analyst, I believe embracing a free structure paired with strong post-launch support is the perfect formula to revitalize PUBG in its second act.

The team continues nudging PUBG toward its former glory days. And going free opens the doors for all to witness the battlegrounds where the genre began. There‘s never been a better time to drop in and sample PUBG‘s tense, methodical take on battle royale – now accessible to all.