Rocket League surprised many recently after developer Psyonix announced their plans to make the game free-to-play. This move has left many wondering how this will affect the games’ community and whether we will see a rise in new teams due to increased availability.
With the move to free-to-play, there has been quite a spike in the Twitch views for the game. In March, the game was reported to have hit a peak of 119,000 gamers online on consoles, and another 72,000 players being active through Steam. In previous months, there have been less than 100,000 gamers online on consoles and 50,000 on steam. In the first month alone, this is nearly a 20% rise in popularity, which proves that the game has only begun to pick up steam.
Rocket League’s success is very well known, and in part, this is due to the game’s mechanics. I mean, it’s a game where we man future-cyber rocket-powered cars in order to play soccer; what’s there not to love? However, we also have to give some credit to the pro players who’ve kept that popularity steady throughout the game’s five-year run. The Rocket League community has been a proud, albeit tiny one, and for that, we have figureheads like top player JSTN to thank.
However, now that the game is free-to-play, the door to entry has been completely taken off its hinges. As more players flood into the game, we may see a rise not only in overall player count, but in overall pro players as well. As new players begin to find their groove, fans have found themselves asking, “will we soon welcome a new era of the game?”
Others are less optimistic. The game is only going to be free through the Epic Games launcher, which means that a huge audience that would try the game otherwise still won’t have access to all the Rocket League goodness available. Though pricing has now become a non-factor, marketability and brand recognition have taken its place. Will would-be fans be able to even find the game through its new Epic Games hiding spot?
The future is still uncertain. While Rocket League could easily continue its upwards trend of new players, the move to the Epic Games launcher might also mitigate the game to the far-reaches of grassroots discord communities. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next time a qualifier rolled around, we saw some new teams that wanted their own slice of the pie. Goodbye experience, hello fresh blood.