Population: One, Meta’s VR battle royale shooter it acquired in 2021, is becoming a free-to-play game, developers BigBox VR announced on Tuesday. The title currently starts at $30 on the Quest Store, but you’ll be able to play it for free starting March 9th.
Population: One first launched in October 2020, and it’s proven to be a popular title, with a more than four-star average score from an excess of 11,000 ratings on the Quest Store. (It’s also available on Steam, where it has more than 2,000 reviews.) But in going free-to-play, Meta seems to be making a push for the game to attract a much wider audience than it already has. It worked for PUBG: Battlegrounds, after all.
And if Population: One really blows up after moving to free-to-play, Meta won’t just have a big battle royale hit on its hands. Thanks to the game’s recently added sandbox mode, it has some metaverse-y aspects as well, and maybe it will prove to be more popular than the struggling Horizon Worlds.
That said, going free-to-play isn’t necessarily a guarantee of future success. Knockout City, a promising multiplayer dodgeball game, launched as a paid game (after a free trial) in 2021 and went free-to-play a little over a year later, but it will be shut down in June. And Meta itself is shutting down the free-to-play Echo VR in August despite the game’s passionate community (though Meta CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth says the playerbase is in the low ten thousands).
People who already own Population: One and log in before 1PM ET on March 9th will get a bundle of in-game items, including a banana outfit. (It’s no Peely from Fortnite, but what is?)