Game developer Krafton announced earlier this week that as of January 12, 2022, PUBG: Battlegrounds is now free-to-play for all players. This move has caused the game’s player count to spike, doubling the game’s average weekly player rate in the past 48 hours.
SteamDB, a database of everything on Steam, shows that the average peak in a day was about 300,000 players for PUBG prior to going free-to-play. For two days in a row, that number has doubled, with more than 600,000 players logging onto the game during its prime playing hours. That covers the first two days of the game being free-to-play. The current list of most popular games on Steam has Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 in the top two spots, with PUBG taking third. According to Steam’s official stats, PUBG has sustained a player count well above the fourth most popular game on Steam, Apex Legends, and has been closely rivaling Dota 2.
Although this spike is not quite the all-time peak of 3.2 million players PUBG saw four years ago, an overnight doubling of peak average seldom occurs for a game. Especially one as old as PUBG now is. It’s possible that players who have primarily been playing the mobile version of the game as it’s always been free-to-play have now migrated over to PC with the transition.
While the recent stats for PUBG are staggering, they’re not exactly surprising. Other games have made the transition to free-to-play and yielded similar results. The popular vehicular soccer game Rocket League went free-to-play in 2020 after it was first released in 2015. The transition increased the viewership of both its eSports league and its player count.
While the free-to-play version of PUBG players grants access to the majority of in-game content, the paid tier, Battlegrounds Plus, includes extra benefits for players. It also presents fans with a commemorative hat, bandana, and gloves, as well as 1,300 G-Coin.
PUBG: Battlegrounds is now available for free on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.