Updated 07/07 3:02pm:
Turtle Rock has confirmed that Evolve is going free-to-play on PC.
In a frank post on the game’s official site, Turtle Rock co-founders Chris Ashton and Phil Robb admitted that the game hadn’t lived up to its pre-release level of hype and excitement.
“When Evolve launched, the reception wasn’t what we expected,” the pair wrote.
“Sure, there were some good reviews. There were also bad reviews. Yes, there was excitement. There was also disappointment – for players and for us.
“The DLC shitstorm hit full force and washed away people’s enthusiasm, dragging us further and further from that first magical pick-up-and-play experience,” the pair added.
“We want that magic back and we aim to make it happen. We’ve made a lot of changes, improvements and additions to Evolve over the past year and we’ve got a lot more coming. In short, we’re giving this game a vigorous overhaul!”
The game will go free on PC as a beta beginning July 8, while its servers are tested, then revisions, updates and new features will be added in the months after that.
“This allows us to test new features and major changes to make our game more accessible and ever closer to the joy we saw when we first showed our baby to the world,” wrote Ashton and Robb.
Anyone who owns classic Evolve will be given “Founder” status in the new free version, and all the content you already own comes with you to the new version.
“As long as we work on Evolve, we will show our appreciation for our committed fans and early adopters with gifts, rewards, and special access,” wrote Ashton and Robb.
“Why? Because you believed like we did, and we will never forget that.
“We have lived and breathed Evolve for over four years and we feel like we are just getting started,” they added.
“Since launch we realised Evolve has provided people some of their most exciting gaming moments and we want to make more of those for everyone... well, everyone who is OK with being periodically murdered (brutally) by terrifying alien monsters.”
Original story 07/07 11:32am:
Turtle Rock Studios is hinting that asymmetric multiplayer FPS Evolve will soon be free-to-play.
As of this morning, the game is no longer available for purchase on Steam, and Turtle Rock Studios co-founder and creative director Phil Robb has dropped some tantalising hints on Twitter as to why.
“Tomorrow @EvolveGame stages up! Biggest, craziest update yet!” he wrote.
When told that the game’s shrinking playerbase was the reason players quit the game, Robb replied, “Well, we think we have a solution for that!”
Evolve launched to much fanfare back in February 2015, but the game's repetitive nature and 2K’s aggressive monetisation policies are often cited as the reasons for its rapid decline.
According to Steamcharts, at launch it boasted an average player base on PC of more than 9000 simultaneous users. Its last month it has attracted an average of 105, with a peak of 234 – utterly dismal for a year-old AAA online shooter.
It certainly isn't a failure, though: SteamSpy has its total PC owners at around 525,000, and 2K reported in May 2015 that 2.5m copies had been shipped to retailers.
At the time of writing, a countdown timer on the game’s official site is at 16 hours and 30 minutes, so it's likely an announcement is coming tomorrow.