The zombie survival game-turned-battle royale H1Z1 is now free to play just one week after its official release. After three years in early access, version 1.0 of the game launched for PC on February 28 for $20 / £15 alongside a new car combat mode called Auto Royale. Those who purchased the game will receive in-game items as a consolation, but can also receive refunds in accordance to Steam’s refund policy.
The day prior to switching to a free to play model, H1Z1’s peak concurrent player count on Steam was around 7,000 total. According to SteamCharts.com, the peak player count in the last 30 days was around 15,000 users; its best month came in July 2017, when the game peaked at 150,000 players with an average of 86,000 players. This didn’t bode well for the game considering its main competitor, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, has reached well over one million concurrent users every month since September 2017.
H1Z1 contains microtransactions for cosmetic items only. Its in-game currency called skulls are used to purchase these items, which can be obtained by playing the game and completing challenges. With the free to play move, purchasable Bronze, Silver, and limited edition Gold battle royale packs are available. Anyone who bought H1Z1 will receive an “appreciation pack” which contains the following items:
- Gasrunner Hoodie
- Bloom Survivor T-Shirt
- Splinter Camo ARV
- 10 Victory Crates
- 10,000 Skulls
In addition to being free, developer Daybreak Games is also pushing its new H1Z1 Pro League (H1PL); it’s an esports league with 15 professional teams that includes Cloud9, CLG, TSM, Echo Fox, and others. The first event will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 21.
H1Z1 general manager Anthony Castoro made the following statement in regards to dropping its price entirely and the H1PL launch:
“We are very excited to announce that H1Z1 will be free to play starting today. Not only does this decision allow us to share our version of Battle Royale and Auto Royale with even more players, but it signifies the next step in making H1Z1 a must-watch esport. The Pro League is going to redefine esports when it kicks off in Las Vegas this April, and whether a person is an aspiring pro athlete or just wants to play with friends, we want everyone to have the chance to play the most competitive battle royale game.”
For more on H1Z1, be sure to check out the replay of our livestream where we take the Auto Royale mode for a test drive and emerge victorious. You can also get more details on the game mode itself in our previous story.