It’s Time for PUBG to Go Free-to-Play
PUBG is one of the biggest and most important battle royale games in the whole world without a doubt. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is basically the game that started the battle royale craze that is still going super strong even today.
But there is one thing that the battle royale game is lacking, at least on consoles and PC, and that has to do with the purchase model associated with it. Right now, you still have to pay cash to purchase the game when I think the developer should make PUBG free-to-play.
There Needs to Be a PUBG Free-to-play Version
In my opinion, there should be a PUBG free-to-play version of the game on consoles and PC. I’m not talking about the PUBG Mobile game that is already free on mobile (but that will come up a little later) but rather the main base game that started it all.
If you want to play PUBG on PS4, Xbox One, and PC (next-gen consoles coming soon), you will have to shell out some cash to do so. This is rather unfortunate for a battle royale title in 2020 at the time of writing this. That’s why I think that PUBG Corp. should make PUBG free-to-play.
The game has been out since 2017 with more than three years of being a paid game for players to check out. That is plenty of time to build the player base on consoles and PC to a great place. It is also long enough to not make the already existing players feel like they spent money for nothing.
Of course, there will always be those who are mad when a paid game suddenly becomes free but that is inevitable. It is high time for the PUBG free-to-play switch and I’m going to go over just that in this post. I would like to go over the various reasons why I would like to see that happen.
In addition to that, I am going to detail the pros and benefits of making PUBG free-to-play on consoles and PC. There are several reasons why I think this is worth the switch but I would be remiss to not include the negatives as well so I will go into why it might not be the best idea. Let’s get started.
Every Other Major Battle Royale Game Is Free
When it comes to the positive reasons for why there should be a PUBG free-to-play version, there is one reason that goes above all the others: every single other major battle royale out there is free. This isn’t a hyperbole, either, as every battle royale game in the genre that matters is free.
All of them except PUBG, that is. If you are a fan of the global phenomenon that is Fortnite battle royale, well, you can play it for free on nearly every modern platform out there. If you love the style of Apex Legends and its characters, then you can download and play it for free.
Disregarding the Blackout game mode from Black Ops 4, those Call of Duty fans have Call of Duty Warzone to enjoy for free on consoles and PC. And that is before including the major mobile games as well that are, of course, free-to-play on their respective platforms.
There is Call of Duty Mobile, Fortnite on mobile, and so on. But what about battle royale games that aren’t combat or shooter-focused? Well, there is Spellbreak, which is, again, free-to-play on major systems. There is Tetris 99 that is technically free but you do need a Nintendo Online subscription for that.
All in all, PUBG remains one of the only games in the entire battle royale genre that you have to pay upfront to play. It isn’t like the model doesn’t work well for the other free games as they are all doing amazing and many of PUBG’s competitors are, arguably, doing better than it.
Not joining the crowd is a travesty that PUBG needs to fix immediately or else it runs the chance of being left behind in the dust by the other games that are already free-to-play. And that even includes its own sister game PUBG Mobile.
PUBG Is Already Free on Mobile
If it isn’t enough that all of PUBG’s competitors in the market are free-to-play already, there is the fact that its own sister game PUBG Mobile is free on Android and iOS devices around the world. If you want that PUBG experience for free, you certainly don’t have to look very far.
All you need to do is download the game on your smartphone or tablet and you are good to go. You don’t have to spend any money on the console or PC version as you can enjoy most of what PUBG has to offer in the palm of your hands without spending any money.
Sure, you could argue that they cater to different audiences but there will come a point when players in the main PUBG community will lament the fact that they have to pay money upfront for a game that is largely free on mobile devices already.
In many ways, that would be like forcing Fortnite players on console and PC to pay money to enjoy battle royale while the mobile players are able to check it out for free. Much of the content is shared between the two games, even if it looks and runs much better on PUBG proper.
But to make matters worse, there is a lot of content that the mobile version of the game has over the main one like all of the extra game modes, crossover events, and more. It can suddenly look even less enticing to pay on console and PC when you look at it this way.
To make matters worse, PUBG’s business model is largely similar to the one on mobile. Sure, you are paying to buy the game and play it on console and PC but then you also still have to pay real money for some cosmetic items and crates, just like in PUBG Mobile that is at least free to start. The microtransactions aren’t too bad in PUBG to make up for this but it would be a welcome change nonetheless.
It Was Given Away for Free on Console for a Limited Time
There is something about PUBG that makes me wish it was free-to-play even more. You were actually able to get it free on console for a limited time but if you missed out, then you are out of luck. PUBG was free to get through PlayStation Plus recently on PS4 at the time of writing this.
Those players who had an active PlayStation Plus subscription during the month that the battle royale game was free, they can keep playing it without spending any extra money so long as they keep an active sub. This was a similar situation with Google Stadia, too.
It was free for a time through the Google Stadia Pro subscription where subscribers to that model could get it free for a limited time. Those PS4 and Stadia players can keep playing it right now. It is also free as part of the Game Pass subscription on Xbox One.
Overall, those are three of the platforms (minus PC) where you could have gotten PUBG for free for a limited time or longer. But now those are mostly gone if you missed out on them minus Game Pass and I believe that it is time for the game to go fully free-to-play.
It has done the rounds on console and become free on several platforms, so now it is time to give it away to everyone. This would be a similar situation to Rocket League, which was a paid title for a while and given away on PlayStation Plus, but went fully free recently. This has helped that game out already in a short period of time and could do the same for PUBG.
This Would Be Great for Next-Gen Consoles
Another positive that I think would help out PUBG is that this free-to-play switch would work well with the next-gen consoles. The PS5 and Xbox Series X/S are coming out very soon at the time of writing this and may very well be out already by the time you read this.
We already know that PUBG will be coming to them through backwards compatibility with 60 frames-per-second for some of the next-gen platforms but it would also be great to see it free on them. With the launch of a new generation, there is a chance for a whole new group of players to check games out.
There are players who PUBG hasn’t reached yet and they could be reached if it went free-to-play on the new consoles. Otherwise, likely only those players who care about the battle royale game already will take the time to check out and enjoy the higher frame rate and other changes.
Making it free-to-play near the launch of the next-gen consoles would also be the best time to do so, in my opinion, since the new consoles will have fewer games to play on them at launch. There are some good games in this new generation but there still aren’t too many for players.
If you want a battle royale experience at launch, there aren’t really any “new” ones. They are all just ports or upgrades of existing games. This is the perfect chance for PUBG to make a huge splash by going free-to-play at just the right time for a new audience to check it out when there aren’t too many games to play.
Negatives of Making PUBG Free-to-play
It would be wrong to go over the negatives of this switch, though. There are some and they are important reasons that could be why we have not seen PUBG go free-to-play yet. For one, there is the matter of the uniqueness that this game has in being the only major one with a retail price.
In this way, it stands out from the rest of the genre by having a business model that is different and could be appealing to those who are tired of the usual free-to-play style, which then brings up the second issue that could come with going free-to-play.
Though there are some microtransactions involved with PUBG, they aren’t as invasive as the other games like Fortnite and Apex Legends where skins and even whole characters are unavailable without intense grinding or spending real world currency.
If PUBG was to go free, it would have to change its entire business model to make microtransactions an even bigger part of it, which would potentially bother those who spent money to buy the game. The developer would then have to reward those players who purchased the game before its switch, which could cause some issues in the community.
That said, even with those negatives, I think that they are nothing that other paid games that went free haven’t dealt with in the past. They are just general problems that will need to be addressed but they shouldn’t stop this change from happening and opening up PUBG to many more players than it would have otherwise, which can in turn mean more profits, revenue, and popularity for PUBG Corp.