You can add Rocket League to the ever-increasing list of games that sniffed around free-to-play but ultimately rejected the concept.
In a talk at GDC, Design Director Corey Davis went into great detail about the development of Psyonix’s smash hit game, from its origins as a sequel to the company’s unfortunately named 2008 release Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars to the development time spent on an open-world version of the game, where you would “drive to a stadium and play soccer.” You can read a full dissemination of the talk over on Eurogamer.
Near the end, Davis brought up one very interesting point: For a long time, Psyonix planned to make Rocket League a free-to-play game, on all platforms. As Davis put it, making the game F2P was a no-brainer:
“This is mid-2013, TF2 and Dota are kind of killing it. No-one had really failed at free-to-play on PC yet, so let’s just turn free-to-play and money shows up at your door in buckets, right?”
Let that concept sink in: “No-one had really failed at free-to-play on PC yet.” How things change in just a few years. That said, Psyonix didn’t totally give up on free-to-play, if Nosgoth is any indication.
Rocket League free-to-play would have involved an intricate crafting system, though it’s unsure exactly what would have been crafted — just cosmetic bits or gameplay-affecting modules. In any case, the concept was scrapped because, as Davis said, it was turning the developers into “monetization designers and not game designers” who focused more on getting money from players rather than making a better game. That’s not an uncommon lament of F2P designers, and one that probably was for the best seeing as how Rocket League has sold over 12 million copies.
What do you think of the decision? Would you have liked to see a free-to-play Rocket League or did Psyonix make the right choice?