Evolve Moving to Free-to-Play Games
JULY 9, 2016 • Turtle Rock Studios is turning the computer version of its asymmetrical first-person shooter (FPS) game Evolve into a free-to-play (F2P) online experience. Starting immediately, the computer edition now known as Stage 2 is entering a free beta stage via Steam that will continue as long as the studio needs to eliminate bugs, improve maps and enhance stability. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions published by 2K Games, Inc. are not included in the move to F2P. Consumers who already own Evolve for the PC and have purchased the title’s DLC will have all of that extra content recognized in Stage 2, and they will be awarded “Founder” status. No timeline was provided by Turtle Rock regarding how long they expect Evolve Stage 2 to operate in beta from Steam.
Impact: The new DFC Intelligence report The Business of Video Games had a look at both free-to-play versus pay-to-play models as well as the potential for eSports games. So under that framework, when we first saw Turtle Rock’s plan to take Evolve F2P, we honestly scratched our heads for a while. Here is a title that was criticized as lacking content and replayability when it was released in February of last year and that seems like an insufficient base for a F2P game as a service. Furthermore, the biggest problem for Evolve at launch was the immediate availability of important content as DLC that doubled the $60 price of the main game. This did not sit well with consumers who felt Evolve was incomplete for a $60 AAA product. True, new map DLC was not charged for, but additional hunters and monsters did cost extra. Where Stage 2 does start to make sense is in an attempt to boost Evolve’s chances at becoming a viable eSports platform. Through 2015 the multiplayer population’s continued decline nullified any eSports aspirations despite the studio’s efforts. Taking Evolve F2P does have the chance of rekindling interest of old and new players, but the details of how this new incarnation will be monetized are fuzzy. Given the stigma with players over the original DLC model, Stage 2 will need to be far less demanding in what consumers need to pay for. There are also issues of how the four hunters versus one monster gameplay will be balanced for competition where the original cat and mouse dynamics don’t quite work with the frenetic action common with successful eSports titles. We acknowledge that there was no other course of action to resuscitate the franchise but we rate the chances of success as a long shot. What this news does make very clear, however, is that there is a very defined sense of value that consumers have for their core video games that Evolve transgressed upon. That is where Evolve’s fortunes were scuttled, not the quality of the premise or execution.