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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Rocket League: Now Free-to-Play. Is that a yay?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Free, as opposed to paid-for. Brought to you by Epic.

Once upon a time, in late 2017, I wrote an article on behalf of the whole KoopaTV staff asking if we should make Rocket League our go-to online multiplayer game. After all, even though not everyone at the time had a Nintendo Switch, it had cross-play, meaning we could all play together. Rocket League was all the rage back then. By early 2018, we all had picked it up. Then we never played it together, for various reasons. By the time it was the end of 2018, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had released to fulfill many of our online multiplayer needs (still does to this day), and everyone forgot Rocket League existed.

Personally, I should've seen that I wouldn't like a car-soccer game coming. I'm not a car person. And I strongly dislike soccer and associate it with socialism. But that doesn't explain why the game never clicked with me gameplay-wise. I mean, something about this isn't riveting in long (>15-minute) stretches of time:

I had paid 15 to 20 dollars on Rocket League back then (and regret it), but starting yesterday—and likely due to the influence Epic Games has had on the game since acquiring developer Psyonix in 2019—Rocket League became a free-to-play game. It has micro-transactions (an in-game aesthetic item store with a very complicated system of “Credits” and “Blueprints” that I don't understand and never will personally interact with), but this contrasts with the previous model of a base fee plus a zillion DLC packages of aesthetics. Since it's now free-to-play and those DLC packages were discontinued, players get dumped the contents of those DLC packages for free the first time they start the game, along with “Legacy”-quality items and some other stuff. I'm not quite sure what that means, but my car looks like this now:

Rocket League car cow skull money boost dollar sign Nintendo Switch free-to-play
The money rocket boost and dollar sign ornament symbolise that I paid for this game.
The cow skull symbolises the fact that I left Rocket League for dead for over two years until writing this article.

Since I never cared about the aesthetic characteristics of my car—since I'm not a car person and I don't equate cars to characters (I didn't like Cars the movie, either)—the big bunch of free items didn't do anything for me. ...And if someone actually did spend money on the DLC and played enough to get all of those in-game items, then I suppose they wouldn't get anything out of this, would they?

No one is offering any refunds, though Epic Games is offering (for a limited time) $10 in Epic Store spending money (“an Epic Coupon”) if you get the free Rocket League through the Epic Store. (There are some confusing terms and conditions on it.) This is supposed to make up for charging people money they'll never get back...supposedly? I mean, I don't want to go get anything on the Epic Store. That's why I got it on the Nintendo Switch to begin with, instead of something like Steam, which you can no longer buy (or freely download) Rocket League on.

I'm not saying that we're necessarily entitled to getting a refund or anything—assuming we liked Rocket League when we got it prior to 2020, there's value in having our time preference of wanting that enjoyment granted years before now. But I am sad that I still have overwhelming apathy towards it. Still, there's a million concurrent players now playing Rocket League (dwarfing prior records) since it's free-to-play. It'll be interesting to see how long they stick around, or if they're just all Epic Store consumers who want a coupon.

Don't ask Ludwig if he wants to play Rocket League with you, since he probably doesn't want to and would rather play lots of other games instead. Games with more precise control over the character (counting the car as a character just as gameplay terminology) like Super Smash Bros. or Mario Tennis Aces. He doesn't understand how there is an enduring eSports presence in Rocket League even though it seems like most of the vibe is supposed to be giggling at how flying cars are funny and you miss half the dives you make. Comment if you feel the same (or very different) way. By the way, you can play Rocket League online without having to pay for your console's online subscription service, which is great, since Nintendo Switch Online is still a disaster to subscribe to. (And if you'd like someone else, like Ludwig, to manage your subscription for you, you should try to win the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program round 34 and get to be part of KoopaTV's Nintendo Switch Online Family Group for a year.)


  1. Hey, Rocket League is technically an esport. I can try an esport for free? Hot diggity!

    1. i mean so is dota, league, cs:go, fortnite blah blah blah. u can try lots of esports for free.

    2. Yeah, and since it's not (to my knowledge) pay-to-win, you can be just as professional/good as anyone else! All a matter of your dedication.

  2. yes i also purchased this game unlucky lol

    1. I did like getting the "EST. 2018" acknowledgement from them. (Your year depends on when you got it.) Nice touch.

    2. yes for sure worth the 20 canadian dollars i spent years ago

    3. I'd use that money now to buy Kirby Fighters 2.


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