I was quite taken by the idea of Pandemic Express when it was announced last year. It's a multiplayer survival game that has a group of 30 people attempting to escape a zombie apocalypse, the twist being that one of them—unbeknownst to the rest—is already infected, granting them powerful abilities, unlimited respawns, and a burning hunger for brains. Cue a running fight to the last train out and a final stand by whoever's left alive, and it sounds like a pretty good time to me.
The player numbers haven't been great, though (to put it mildly), and so publisher Tinybuild is taking another run at it by making the game free to play. Under the new system, players will earn "stars" by playing matches that can be spent on costumes, emojis, and in-game music. If you don't want to wait, you can opt to buy them instead.
"We believe this is the most fair and transparent way to do free to play," Tinybuild said. Anyone who bought the game prior to the free-to-play transition will be given 2000 stars and access to all music tracks, as a thanks "for being with us from the start."
Tinybuild didn't say how, or if, the change will impact its long-term plans for the game, which include new game modes, an in-game tutorial, regional servers, and an overhaul of the transport system. Based on the comments on Steam, the response among players so far seems cautiously hopeful, and Steam Charts indicates a significant uptick in players in the past 30 days: It's still a tiny population, but maybe it'll be enough to get something started.