The online tactical combat game Atlas Reactor was originally announced, in August 2015, as a free-to-play game, and so it remained through its open alpha and the first two weeks of closed beta testing. But today, Executive Producer Peter Ju announced that the plan has changed, and that Trion Worlds is taking the unusual step of changing it to a “buy-to-play” release.
Ju said the response to the game's “cosmetic and boost-based microtransaction system” has been very positive, but in order to make the game sustainable, the developers would have been forced to change the system in ways that would make it “less fun.” And so it decided to scrap the system entirely instead.
Under the new system, Atlas Reactor will be available for outright purchase at three price points: $30 (currently on sale for $20), $60, and $100, with the higher-priced packages coming with bonus skins, taunts, banners, boosts, and other game-related swag. All three tiers include all current and future Freelancers, those being the game's characters, as well as access to the closed beta, an in-game ally, and Founder's banner and title.
Anyone who purchased one of the previous Founder's packs, or spent $10 or more on in-game credits during the F2P period, will be given the full version of the game automatically, along with “a ton of additional rewards” for players who have purchased the Starter, Freelancer, or Trust packs. The game's Seasons system will be changed to reflect “greater focus on rewards achievable through gameplay,” and being buy-to-play will also enable the studio to reduce the price of some cosmetic items.
It's an unexpected change, but not entirely surprising. It was widely assumed that Overwatch would be a free-to-play release, until Blizzard said late last year that it would not. More recently, Daybreak Game Company ditched its free-to-play plan for H1Z1, and Cliff Bleszinski's Boss Key Productions announced that it would do the same with LawBreakers, for reasons similar to those cited by Trion: Art Director Tramell Isaac said the free-to-play model had the studio focused on how to make money, rather than on making a good game. It's almost enough to make a person wonder if this could be the beginning of a backlash against the free-to-play pricing model that's proven so lucrative for so many games over the past several years.
Despite the change, there will still be opportunities to try Atlas Reactor without forking over any cash, including free weekends, trials, friend referrals, and the upcoming open beta. You might also still make it into the closed beta, which is now underway: Put your name in the hat at altasreactorgame.com.