Don't panic: If you own Rocket League on Steam, you'll be able to keep playing it on Steam after it goes free-to-play later this summer. However, new PC players will have to pick up their copy from the Epic Games Store.
The Steam version will get "full support for future updates and features," says Psyonix, and you'll still be able to do all the things you could before, like buy items or the Rocket Pass. And just as you can currently play with console players, you'll be able to party up with and compete against those who have the Epic Store version of Rocket League. Psyonix is also adding support for cross-platform inventories and progression if you link an Epic account, and that'll come along with this update.
Anyone who's already played Rocket League online or does so before the free-to-play update will get a bunch of in-game items as a nod to the $20 they spent. Here's the loot, in Psyonix's words:
- All Rocket League-branded DLC released before free to play
- "Est. 20XX" title that displays the year when the player first started playing Rocket League
- 200+ Common items upgraded to "Legacy" quality
- Golden Cosmos Boost
- Dieci-Oro Wheels
- Huntress Player Banner
Those who played Rocket League online before today's announcement will also get the Faded Cosmos boost. You can see that and the other items (except for the 200-plus Commons) in the gallery blow.
The news isn't too surprising. Team Fortress 2 went free-to-play four years after it released, and Rocket League turned five this month. Going free has become expected for successful multiplayer games (and for unsuccessful ones, but they usually make the change quickly, as a desperation move).
It is, however, the biggest change being made to Rocket League since Psyonix was bought by Epic. The other big change happened when Epic and Psyonix ditched loot boxes and added an item shop last year, but that was a fairly standard bit of modernization in a world that was becoming increasingly hostile to randomized rewards. Psyonix also dropped Linux and Mac support earlier this year.
I've put over 1,000 hours into Rocket League on Steam, and I don't expect much to change for me when the free-to-play update hits. I'll continue playing on Steam, and I won't see Epic Store newcomers at my rank, at least not until they learn how to air dribble better than I ever will and in a quarter of the time, the bastards. Unlike some shooters, Rocket League isn't plagued by cheaters, although it's possible we'll see more smurf accounts when it's free to make one.
(Anecdotally, sometimes I just suck for a night or two and de-rank, and then get back into the groove and beat up on some unlucky players as I return to my previous level, and I wonder if that's sometimes what people are talking about when they theorize that there are hordes of smurfs out there. The St. Louis Blues sucked for half an NHL season and then won the Stanley Cup. Sometimes people are just inconsistent.)
Psyonix hasn't said exactly when the free-to-play update will happen, except that it'll be sometime this summer. If you want to own Rocket League on Steam, time is officially running out, although I can't imagine anyone who hasn't bought it already cares enough to spend the $20. (Do try it when it's free, though, unless you're allergic to the Epic Store.)
One question is how Valve feels about the whole thing. It'll still take its cut from transactions in the Steam version, which is played by many thousands of owners every day, but it must have some feelings about the store page becoming inert to potential new Steam players. I've asked Valve if it's got any comment on the topic.