PUBG: Battlegrounds is now free-to-play, and the gambit appears to be going well so far, with the popular battle royale shooter having peaked at 669k concurrent players on Steam earlier today, meaning it came close to doubling December's figures.
As noted by industry analyst Daniel Ahmad on Twitter, PUBG saw its concurrent peak player count climb to 668,707 on Steam following its shift to free-to-play earlier today, beating its previous two month highs by more than 300k players.
That's some considerable way off its all-time peak of 3,236,027 players on Steam, reached in January 2018, but it's still a significant boost for a title that's seen a steady decline in player numbers since then - starting 2021 with around 450k concurrents based on figures from Steam Charts, and failing to climb back above the 400k mark in the last three months of the year.
Today's peak of 669k has now subsided to a more modest 170k players on Valve's platform, but it'll be interesting to see if PUBG can maintain anything like its initial free-to-play boost over the coming days and months - and whether similar numbers are reflected on consoles, where the title is also now free-to-play. PUBG Mobile, of course, which has been free-to-play since its inception in 2018, remains one of the most-played games in the world.
Today's revenue model shift has resulted in one other notable number increase on Steam, as Ahmad also pointed out, with PUBG's store page having successfully amassed nearly three times the number of negative reviews today than in did last month, some complaining about cheaters and others demanding refunds now the game is free-to-play.
There's some consolation for those that purchased PUBG: Battlegrounds while it was still a full-price title at least; returning and current players who already bought the game before the switch will see their accounts automatically upgraded to Battlegrounds Plus. This includes access to Ranked mode, the ability to create custom matches, a 100% XP boost, 1,300 G-Coins, and a bundle of cosmetics rewards - all of which would normally cost $12.99 USD.