Battle royale title The Culling has had a long and sordid history. Originally launched as a buy-to-play game back before battle royales exploded, it garnered a fair amount of critical acclaim before developer Xaviant elected to abandon it in favor of a sequel, which was about as popular as Apex Legends‘ Mozambique gun. The original went free-to-play shortly thereafter before shutting down its servers for good a year ago.
Now it’s respawning once more, as the original game, dubbed The Culling: Origins, is returning to the Xbox One on May 14, while the team is “working to bring back the PC version in the future.” It won’t be free-to-play, instead costing $5.99, though it will be accompanied by a one-day free trial if you want to check it out before purchasing. On the flip side, if you owned The Culling while it was F2P, you’ll still get the new version for free …
… but you’ll still (mostly) have to pay if you want to play it. Players can participate in one free match per day but will need Online Match Tokens to play more. You’ll get one for winning a match; otherwise, you’ll have to buy more tokens (three for $0.99, 10 for $2.99, or 20 for $4.99) or seven-day ($1.99) or 30-day ($5.99) passes for unlimited play.
Xaviant said in its press release that it’s “shifted our monetization approach to ensure that players will be able to visit the island for years to come.” Why Xaviant didn’t just go with the more accepted routes of a season pass and optional cosmetics is a valid question to ask — maybe because they were more difficult to implement — but it’s hard to imagine battle royale players being happy with per-match fees or an MMORPG-style subscription, inexpensive as it is.
UPDATE, May 20: Following its extremely negative reception, Xaviant has increased the number of free battles per day to 10. Director of Operations Josh Van Veld has told PCGamer that the reason for the restrictive payment model was because he was “kind of terrified” at the game’s servers being overwhelmed, which is what happened — “We onboarded a million new players very quickly” — when The Culling first went F2P on PC. (It maxed out at 1,459 concurrent players.)