PUBG Corporation this week confirms that the console and PC versions of PUBG: Battlegrounds are now free-to-play (as promised back in December 2021), to be supported by a new one-time purchase called BATTLEGROUNDS Plus. All new players will start with a free Basic account that entitles them with access to "most in-game content". Naturally, premium features (like Ranked Modes and Custom Match support) will be locked behind a BATTLEGROUNDS Plus upgrade priced at $12.99 USD.
As mentioned earlier, the BATTLEGROUNDS Plus upgrade only needs to be purchased once per account and will include the following:
- Survival Mastery XP +100% boost
- Career – Medal tab
- Ranked Mode
- Creating Custom Matches
All existing PUBG players accounts will automatically become BATTLEGROUNDS Plus accounts at no extra charge, provided that the accounts were created before January 10th, 2022. Existing PUBG players will also receive a free "Battle-hardened Legacy" costume skin set, frying pan melee weapon and nameplate.
In an interview with GamesRadar, PUBG studio creative director Dave Curd explained that the timing was simply right for the game to transition to F2P, and is "in no way a response" to competing battle royale shooters that have be released since PUBG's launch:
"Our game is in a great place with eight maps, an engaged community, and our deep gun mechanics, so this is the natural next step and a great way to introduce more players to our universe. I know there are a lot of people who are interested in PUBG: Battlegrounds but have never gotten around to playing it for various reasons - now is the perfect moment to get started."
Make no mistake; PUBG is already highly successful, having achieved lifetime sales of over 70 million units across multiple console platforms and PC as of last year. The mobile version meanwhile has been downloaded over 1 billion times, raking in $6.2 billion USD in digital revenue alone (as of August 2021).
Originally released for Steam in December 2017, PUBG is responsible for launching the online multiplayer battle royale craze on modern gaming platforms. This genre has since grown to accomodate several other (similarly popular) competitors including Apex Legends, Call of Duty Warzone and of course, Fortnite.