PC battle royale game H1Z1 will become free to download and play as of 6pm UK time today.

The announcement is not a surprise - H1Z1's playerbase has nosedived in recent months due to the surge in popularity of rival battle royale smash hits Fortnite and PUBG - although it comes sooner than some had expected.

It's only been a couple of weeks since H1Z1 left Early Access and gained its big Auto Royale update, which was billed as the game's big hope of sparking a revival.

H1Z1 early adopters who paid for the game will get the "H1Z1 Appreciation Pack" containing three in-game skins, 10 Victory Crates and 10,000 Skulls currency.

"We are very excited to announce that H1Z1 will be free to play starting today," H1Z1 general manager Anthony Castoro said. "Not only does this decision allow us to share our version of Battle Royale and Auto Royale with even more players, but it signifies the next step in making H1Z1 a must-watch esport."

The first season of H1Z1's new Pro League will consist of 15 teams and launch in Las Vegas next month.

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Tom Phillips

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