This past Tuesday, Bethesda flipped the free to play switch on Brink, their 2011 collaboration with Splash Damage. This team based FPS failed to find an audience in its day, peaking at only just over 400 players during its launch period. Since going free, the game has steadily had over 1,000 players enjoying the title, and there are now a number of active servers going at any given time.
The decision was announced via a brief news post on Steam itself, with no other word coming out of Bethesda. IGN caught up with VP of Marketing and PR Pete Hines during QuakeCon to ask about the thinking behind the unexpected move.
Last year I think we had reduced it to like 99 cents [during a sale], and we were like ‘why don’t we just make it free? Like, why not?’ Just make it free and let people download it, and maybe they’ll buy the DLC and maybe they won’t, but let’s just try it. The game has been out for forever, how much money are we really making off a 99 cents [sale]?
The game is supported by one expansion and two sets of cosmetic additions, which add up to a $5 investment outside of sales. After Brink’s failure to launch, Splash Damage took that framework into the F2P arena themselves in 2015 with Dirty Bomb, gaining a small but loyal following on PC.
You can see what shooters looked like in 2011 on Steam right now by installing Brink Free to Play.
While the early rumblings about a Brink sequel might have just been idle chatter, I’m ultimately pleased by Bethesda’s attitude in this situation. Many big publishers just leave their multiplayer games to die if they don’t hit big, but a lot of folks still worked hard on them, and that work should be appreciated as much as possible. If you’re reduced to bundling your game for pennies on the dollar and no one is really biting, it can only be a good PR move to give that game away, especially years after release.
Have you tried Brink free to play on Steam? What old games would you love to see a resurgence of? Let us know in the comments below!