Rocket League Talks About The Tech Side Of Going F2P
Contrary to popular belief, taking a game free-to-play isn't just a matter of editing your Steam page and pasting in some microtransactions. Well, that might be how some companies do it, but not Psyonix. The Rocket League maker had a lot more to accomplish before flipping the F2P switch last September, and the developer's lead online services engineer, Matthew Sanders, discussed all that in a GDC talk that was largely transcribed by GamesIndustry.biz.
The biggest challenge Sanders and his team faced was scaling up the game to account for the influx of new players. There were lots and lots of load tests, estimating five times the game's pre-F2P players. The horde of new players would also necessitate upscaling other services, such as customer service, and a new game build was scheduled for a week before the F2P transition, so as to space out the big player-drawing events.
The F2P launch happened on a Wednesday, which gave the team a few days before the weekend to fix the most critical issues. Sanders said that the "times five projection turned out to be extremely accurate" (which seems to counter one external firm's take on how many people played the newly F2P game). Psyonix also had to completely overhaul its matchmaking system, which "was another huge undertaking lasting more than a year, but it was desperately needed and directly contributed to the success of our free-to-play release," said Sanders.
The overall article is a bit heavy on the tech talk -- and doesn't touch on monetization at all -- but it's a solid piece if you're looking to learn more about that side of things when a game goes free-to-play. At the very least, it might mean you'll give a little more leeway when a F2P launch, or just about any game launch, doesn't go as smoothly as hoped.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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