Sci-fi MMO Population Zero is headed to Steam in May

Population Zero, the story-driven sci-fi MMO that began closed beta testing last year, will soon be open to everyone. Developer Enplex Games announced today that the game will debut on Steam Early Access on May 5, and also revealed a few changes that will be in place when it happens.

For one, the developers are aiming to give players a greater sense of "purpose" by adding weekly resets that will advance the narrative. Once the Early Access release goes live, players will have seven days to survive, prosper, and build a safe shelter before Kepler, the planet they're stranded on, becomes unlivable. Players will carry memories of their past lives through each cycle, as well as "other account-based progression rewards," and the studio said that "new mysteries, new mechanics, and new regions" will be added as the cycles pass.

Population Zero is also shifting from a planned free-to-play model, and will instead launch as a conventional purchase for $30. "The decision to change the monetization model from free-to-play to a one-time purchase has been made after a series of thorough discussions within the team and core community," Enplex Games creative director Denis Pozdnyakov said. "The shift to buy-to-play will allow the studio to continue the work on the game without fears of ‘pay to win’, as well as allowing us to release new game content that really enhances the gameplay."

Character customization options will still be offered for purchase via an in-game store, but Enplex emphasized that those items "will be purely cosmetic, and never affect the actual gameplay on Kepler or its colonists' abilities."

Enplex said that more information about Population Zero will be revealed at PAX East, which this year runs from February 27 to March 1. For now, it's available for wishlisting on Steam, and access to the ongoing closed beta remains available at

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.