The tense multiplayer action of battle royale games made them popular, but it’s the accessibility of many of the genre’s biggest hits that made them a worldwide sensation.
Games like Fortnite and EA’s Apex Legends raced to huge player counts on the back of their free-to-play model, which monetizes from selling virtual currency to buy cosmetic character skins, as well as with a seasonal “battle pass” which offers things like themed in-game items, xp bonuses, and unique challenges.
Battlefield 5’s new Firestorm battle royale mode, however, is a free add-on to the base game, but still part of the paid-for package. Despite selling roughly 7.5 million copies of Battlefield 5, this would mean that the prospective player-base for Firestorm could be significantly less than the 50 million overall players boasted by Apex Legends and Fortnite’s record of 10 million concurrents.
When asked about Battlefield’s commitment to a premium price-point at a Firestorm preview event, John Stanley, a senior designer at Criterion Games, said:
“At the moment, it’s really important for Firestorm to come out and be part of Battlefield 5.
“Obviously there are multiple links when you are playing Firestorm that tie back into Battlefield 5, so any XP you earn ties back into Tides of War and Chapter Ranks and all these kind of things. The same applies to weapons and vehicles that you use in Firestorm.
“It’s really important for that to be a part of this at this point and be a way for Battlefield players to experience something different in the Battlefield universe. That’s where we’re at.”
When pressed on their plans for the future, Stanley said: “Nothing to talk about at the moment, no.”
So although it wasn’t a categorical denial, it looks like Firestorm is staying as part of the Battlefield 5 package for now at least, rather than going standalone free-to-play.
The Firestorm battle royale mode will be available March 25.