Hi friend! If you‘ve been wondering why the popular party game Fall Guys recently became free-to-play, I‘ve got you covered. As a gaming and streaming expert, I‘ll provide an in-depth look at how and why Fall Guys transitioned to a free model after being a paid game for two years.
Fall Guys‘ Explosive Launch and Slow Decline
Let‘s start with some background. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout first launched in August 2020 as a paid game priced at $19.99. It was an instant viral hit, selling over 1.5 million copies on Steam in its first month.
Several factors came together to drive Fall Guys‘ incredible popularity when it launched:
- Its simple, goofy battle royale gameplay was easy for anyone to pick up, not just hardcore gamers. This expanded its appeal.
- The cute bean characters spawned funny memes and social media buzz. This built strong word-of-mouth growth.
- Releasing just as COVID lockdowns started, it was the perfect stay-at-home fun. This timing supercharged interest.
According to analytics firm SuperData, Fall Guys made over $185 million in its first five months, making it 2020‘s breakout party game success.
However, that explosive popularity was short-lived. By early 2021, interest in Fall Guys already started to cool off significantly. After the initial novelty wore off, many players moved on to the next big thing.
Without enough new content updates from the game‘s solo indie developer Mediatonic, Fall Guys began rapidly declining as players got bored and left. It simply couldn’t sustain long-term engagement.
Revitalization Under Epic Games and Free-To-Play Transition
Luckily, Fall Guys was thrown a lifeline in March 2021 when Epic Games acquired developer Mediatonic. Epic Games was an ideal partner to revive Fall Guys. As the publisher of Fortnite, Epic knows how to operate free-to-play live service games better than anyone.
In June 2022, Epic transitioned Fall Guys to a 100% free-to-play title. This shifted the monetization from a $19.99 upfront purchase to purely optional cosmetic microtransactions. Things like season passes, costumes, celebrations, and more can be purchased, but the core game is free.
This transformation to free-to-play, guided by Epic‘s expertise, succeeded in breathing new life into the declining Fall Guys. Let‘s analyze the key benefits that going free brought:
Massive Increase in Players
By removing the mandatory $19.99 purchase, Fall Guys became instantly accessible for new players to try with zero barriers. In the first two weeks after going free-to-play, an incredible 50 million new players flooded in according to Epic Games.
Compared to under 20k concurrent players before, it now averages around 150k concurrent users daily. That‘s an order of magnitude more players enjoying the party!
Funded Ongoing Development
These new free players can now optionally purchase costumes, season passes, and other cosmetics. This provides an ongoing revenue stream for the game‘s continued development and operations.
Rather than large paid expansions, Fall Guys can now be constantly expanded and improved to keep players engaged, like Fortnite. Frequent updates every 1-2 months add fresh new content to the game.
Revitalized Interest and Hype
The buzz around Fall Guys coming back with a big free-to-play push rekindled interest from lapsed players. Many streamers returned to capture the game‘s resurgence. Anecdotally, friends who hadn‘t touched Fall Guys in over a year were playing again.
Google search volume for "Fall Guys" spiked to near its 2020 peak levels in June 2022 as fans got re-hyped. This organic marketing buzz was invaluable.
Expanded Cross-Platform Support
Going free-to-play opened the doors for Fall Guys to launch simultaneously on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Xbox consoles, and PC. This expanded player population and unified experience continues on mobile in 2023.
One Epic Games account now seamlessly tracks progress across all platforms via cross-progression. Players can switch devices without losing their progress.
In summary, removing the upfront purchase cost eliminated the barrier holding back millions of players from trying Fall Guys. Epic‘s free-to-play expertise provided the monetization model and game management infrastructure needed to keep Fall Guys thriving long-term.
Fall Guys‘ Current State – Key Stats on its Success as a Free Game
The revival of Fall Guys thanks to its transition to free has been a huge win based on various performance metrics:
- Over 50 million new players in the first 2 weeks after going free according to Epic
- Concurrent players peaked over 500k in August 2022 compared to 20k before
- Currently averages around 150k concurrent daily players
- Recently surpassed 20 million total players on PC via Epic Games Store
- Maintains a 92% positive review score on Steam from 400k+ reviews
- Estimated daily revenue of over $1 million from microtransactions
Going free also doubled Fall Guys‘ available platforms by adding Xbox and Switch. Mobile launches in 2023 expand its reach even further.
The continued updates like new levels, costumes, and features have maintained engagement. Season 2 launched just 2 months after the free transition with more fresh content.
Based on these excellent results, the shift to free-to-play successfully gave Fall Guys a second life. The expanded audience and revitalized buzz have Fall Guys positioned for ongoing success under Epic‘s stewardship.
Player Opinions – Why Fans Love the Free Version
Beyond the hard numbers, Fall Guys fans have enthusiastically embraced the game as a free-to-play title. Let‘s look at some key reasons players love the free version based on social media reactions and reviews:
More Casual and Relaxed Fun
Without the $19.99 buy-in, matches feel more low stakes and relaxed. Players don‘t worry about "getting their money‘s worth" and just enjoy the wacky gameplay moment to moment. The vibe is more carefree.
Easier to Convince Friends
Since downloading is free, it‘s much simpler to convince a wider group of friends to try Fall Guys together. More group fun with buddies makes for better laughs and memories.
Frequent New Content Keeps It Fresh
The regular additions like levels, costumes, and features give existing fans reason to keep coming back. There‘s always something new to experience and unlock.
Satisfaction of Customizing Your Bean
All the cosmetic outfits, celebrations, and accessories let players express their personal style. Unlocking new ways to stand out is extremely satisfying.
Seamlessly playing on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and soon mobile devices via a unified Epic Games account is super convenient. Progress is never lost when switching platforms.
Overall, the free shift got rid of various hassles and barriers while retaining all the core chaos and fun that made Fall Guys such a sensation at launch. This reinvigorated the game for millions of existing and new fans.
Criticisms and Controversies – Pushback on Certain Aspects
Despite mostly glowing reception, some aspects of the free-to-play shift did receive fair criticism and pushback:
The cosmetic pricing model is considered quite expensive, with certain premium skins costing up to $15. More players may buy-in at lower price points.
Server issues plagued the first weeks after launch, with long matchmaking delays and lag as the infrastructure was overwhelmed by demand.
The account linking process for existing players to carry over progress was messy and confusing based on social media complaints.
Influx of spammers/cheaters on the now free game using disposable accounts has increased moderation needs.
The new in-game ads for brand crossovers like Halo and Gundam costumes turned some players off.
Refunds of premium currency for early adopters took a long time and required multiple support tickets.
While these launch growing pains caused some justified complaints, Epic Games seems committed to smoothing out issues through updates. Overall, sentiments remain positive as most players recognize the benefits of free.
What‘s Ahead? Exciting Upcoming Developments
Even after the success revitalizing Fall Guys as a free game, plenty of promising features and content are still in development:
Season 4 launches in November 2022 with a carnival theme providing new Party Promenade environments and goofy costumes to unlock.
Mobile versions for iOS and Android are slated to launch globally in 2023, opening Fall Guys up to millions of potential new players.
Epic is soliciting community-suggested level ideas, outfits, and emotes to incorporate, giving fans a way to leave their mark.
Squads mode is a highly requested feature to team up in larger groups beyond duos. This should amplify the social fun.
Ranked competitive modes are planned to satisfy skilled players looking for high-stakes challenges.
An esports scene with tournaments, leagues, and prize money seems inevitable given Fall Guys‘ rising popularity.
With so many promising additions still in the pipeline, Fall Guys feels like it‘s just getting started in its goal of achieving mass free-to-play appeal. The future looks bright!
The Verdict – How Fall Guys Succeeded in Its Free-To-Play Transition
In conclusion friend, the shift to free-to-play successfully revitalized Fall Guys by opening it up to a much wider mainstream casual audience across all major platforms. Removing the required $19.99 purchase eliminated the friction preventing so many people from trying Fall Guys for themselves.
Epic Games provided the expertise and infrastructure needed to propel Fall Guys forward as an ever-evolving live service free-to-play title. Ongoing content and features will be funded through optional purchases of cosmetics and season passes by the expanded player base.
Initial growing pains aside, Fall Guys as a free game recaptured the accessibility, virality, and carefree fun that made it such a sensation when it first launched over two years ago. The future looks bright for Fall Guys cementing itself as a staple multiplayer party game thanks to this successful shift to free-to-play under Epic Games.
So in summary friend, going free transformed Fall Guys from a fleeting fad into a sustainable, continually updated party game for the long haul. Removing that initial purchase barrier was key to opening up the enjoyment of Fall Guys to all.
Let me know if you have any other Fall Guys questions! I‘m happy to provide my insight as a gaming industry analyst to help explain why this iconic party game made the right move going free. Fall Guys forever!