'PUBG: Battlegrounds' is going free to play, but ranked mode will still cost you

The big change for the pioneering battle royale takes place on January 12th.

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PUBG Battlegrounds
Krafton

PUBG: Battlegrounds, which kickstarted the battle royale craze that swept the gaming world over the last few years, is going free to play (F2P), much like many of its rivals/copycats. The switch will take place on January 12th, almost five years since it debuted as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

While casual players will be able to earn chicken dinners for free, newcomers will still have to pay up for the competitive Ranked Mode. Publisher Krafton is introducing an optional Battlegrounds Plus upgrade. For a one-off payment of $13, you'll get access to Ranked and custom modes, an XP boost, in-game items and other perks. Those who have already paid for the game will get Battlegrounds Plus and extra goodies.

“As PUBG: Battlegrounds pioneered the battle royale genre and has grown into a globally influential game IP, this is the perfect time to transition to F2P and welcome new players to the game,” Krafton CEO CH Kim said. “Transitioning to F2P is the next step in our journey to widen the scope of the PUBG IP through content that both new and veteran players will love.”

PUBG: Battlegrounds, which Krafton says has sold more than 75 million copies, is still immensely popular. At any given moment over the last month, an average of more than 146,000 people were playing the game on Steam alone. That figure often more than doubled at peak times. The free-to-play switch will likely boost the player count even higher.

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'PUBG: Battlegrounds' is going free to play, but ranked mode will still cost you