Evolve’s Free-To-Play Experiment Is Working, But Not Everyone Is Happy

Evolve’s Free-To-Play Experiment Is Working, But Not Everyone Is Happy

On paper Evolve sounded like a fascinating multiplayer hit. But thanks to one of the most grotesque and aggressive approaches to DLC ever, the AAA monster hunter saw its audience vanish within months.

The free-to-play relaunch on PC, however, has brought players back. In a big way.

Image: Supplied

Nathan wrote on Saturday that the game’s free-to-play re-release had sent the active player base from a few hundred to tens of thousands. That growth has only continued to explode over the last 48 hours, however, with the peak amount of players hitting 51,099 at the time of writing.

If you’re wondering why the figure was so high in February 2015, that’s because that was when the game launched. This doesn’t say anything about Evolve’s player base on consoles, but given the immediate effect it’s hard not to imagine the experiment being rolled out more broadly.

It also strengthens the argument for Battleborn going free-to-play. The game has less than 1000 peak concurrent players a day, an astonishing return considering the time, development and marketing Gearbox has invested.

Going free-to-play doesn’t automatically improve all of Evolve’s woes, however. Fans who stuck with the game from the outset have given Turtle Rock a serve, questioning why all their progress and the content they’d previously paid for has been suddenly wiped.

But the real question is: how many of these new players will stick around? Having a bigger pool of players for matchmaking will undoubtedly help. But going free-to-play means Turtle Rock now has a new set of issues to design around, like ensuring the game doesn’t devolve into a nightmare of microtransactions.

We’ll keep an eye on the game and let you know how it progresses. As for those who have tried Evolve out since it went free-to-play, what do you think? And what about those who bought Evolve at launch — how do you feel about the game now?


  • I can understand why people would be frustrated with the reset. I was only rank nine, so I can only guess how frustrating it might be when you have sunk more hours into the game.

  • I bought it full price a little bit after the game’s launch because there was nothing out around that time. Sounded kinda interesting.

    I didn’t play it much. I found it a little confusing. But then when I went back a little later it had such a disgustingly prolific amount of DLC I was really put off even bothering.

    I put this down to a terrible purchase. I’m unlikely to try it F2P.

    Hawken was pretty fun on the weekend though.

  • Usually when a paid game goes free to play they reward the paid users on conversion… but OUCH they cut all that content without notice or consultation to paid customers or dedicated active players. How is free2play going to work when you just showed you retconned content from existing customers on a whim cause your desperate to make money from the title.

  • Bought it at full price when it released for PS4. I enjoyed it at the time but console players aren’t the most cooperative or communicative bunch so i didnt stick with it for long. Installed the F2P version over the weekend and I gotta say, its a much better experience and I’m having a blast.

  • Anyone else been playing Paragon on PS Plus? I am loving it so much more than I thought I would, but I’m worried the same fate will befall it unless it changes its business model. It’s a full priced game at this stage, right? For a game that’s essentially one map and the same game over and over, it’s definitely gonna be dead in the water unless it embraces free to play.

    • From what I can tell, Paragon will be free to play once it is officially released. At the moment it is in beta, and you need to buy one of the starter packs in order to play.

  • I must be one of the few people who really loved the game. I bought it sometime in the last 12 months and loved it. I can’t remember what Rank I was but I was playing it for 3 odd hours a night for a while. I’m glad that they have given us access to all the characters without having to unlock them, but I don’t like the idea that we can pay real life money for the games perks. I’m also disappointed about the badges and skins missing but by far the worst part is the removal of the story like mode. I’m sure they will put it back in, but it is a damn shame it isn’t in there from the start.

    • I actually liked the game. I just felt that there wasn’t enough content for the full AAA price of $80.
      As a F2P title I might give it another go.

  • No idea what Turtle Rocks replies are to these issues, but remember, the F2P is still in Beta. Although re-releasing with this many issues, is not a great way to get a game back off the ground. Another big issue is the imbalance of long time players and the huge influx of noobs. I saw an impassioned plea form a long time player to others, to not destroy a team in 2 mins when they are the monster as the skill levels are now so imbalanced. Nothing like joining a game only to be killed immediately time after time to make you delete it, again.

  • I downloaded it because a friend bought it ages ago and wants to play now that it’s gone free. In the meantime though I haven’t even started it up…would rather play Terraria or Pokemon Go.

  • I played the ‘demo’ (by way of closed/open betas), and wasn’t especially impressed. 90% of matches were a boring 15-20min jog, endlessly tracking and never gaining on a rapid monster that simply ate on the run. And if we ever caught up, it deliberately focused and smashed up the healer and the rest fell like dominos. Easily 90% of all matches ended that way. Booooooooooooooring.

    Unless the game’s had some very dramatic re-balances, I don’t really see any point in bothering even with the F2P. The DLC never bothered me in the betas… the game itself did.

    And it seemed like there was so much wasted material. It was dark as fuck the entire time so you could never really get a feel for the theme of the terrain, or environment, roaming wildlife was never fully exploited because any minute you spent not sprinting after the monster was basically handing it the win, and there was never any element of thoughtful investigation or ‘hide and seek’ type games… just, “FOLLOW THAT DOG!” So all the buffs/debuffs/distractions of wildlife/etc went to waste. Sprint past everything because we’ve got a monster to catch! And if we don’t he’ll murder us all!

  • Just to clarify, everything I’ve seen in game is buyable with the silver currency – something that’s earned (rather rapidly) by playing the game. I see no way of purchasing this currency with real money, at this time.

    I was an early follower. Keen for the game when it was announced, I felt put off by the amount of cod-player attention it received. The marketing team started joining in with the lingo, so I ceased following updates on Facebook and mostly forgot about it. Alas, I jumped in the open beta when that finally came around, but I was disappointed to see everyone could see tracks; the game was generally skill-gap devoid.

    Don’t get me wrong, nothing has changed; if anything, with the dome being available for all players now, it’s further compressed that skill gap. All trackers can now reveal the location of the monster irrelevant of their proximity to it, to boot. The thing is, it’s a pleasure to play, nonetheless. As a full price title, I had little interest in buying it- but as free entertainment, I’ve been playing it exclusively since release. It is rather casual compared to games like Overwatch, HotS and League of Lols, but I’m glad for it. With the stress of teams being rather obnoxious in ranked play on other titles (though I’ve not delved into ranked on Evolve yet), I find this game quite entertaining and fun to waste time in.

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