Earlier this week, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), the year's biggest success story in gaming, made its console debut with an exclusive Xbox One launch. After selling tens of millions of copies on PC, Microsoft picked up the game for its own console family, delivering an in-progress version comparable to the PC experience. This comes via the platform's "Game Preview" – a program that allows studios to publish games to Xbox One and Windows 10 while still in development.
Microsoft's Game Preview program is nothing new – publishers have introduced and fully shipped games via the program in the past, including The Long Dark and ARK: Survival Evolved. However, to combat the stigma associated with pre-release titles, Microsoft enforces some tight restrictions upon developers, one of these being the strict requirement for a one-hour free trial.
With the release of PUBG for Xbox One on December 12, gamers soon began to realize a free trial for the game was yet to be available. Speaking to Windows Central, a Microsoft spokesperson has now confirmed a free trial won't be offered for PUBG over its launch period, citing server stability as the main cause for its absence.
At the launch of "PUBG" on Xbox One in Xbox Game Preview, the one-hour trial period will not be available as we are prioritizing server stability for the game. However, we are looking to bring a one-hour trial period to the game once player concurrency and server stability are optimized; we'll share more in the future.
With the sheer traction of PUBG in 2017, it's understandable that Microsoft wants to maintain server stability over the launch period. Limiting the game to paying players is a valid way to do this, preventing what could've been an overwhelming population from the Xbox Live userbase on launch day.
However, with this move, Microsoft is also seemingly bending the rules of its Game Preview program for its own benefit. Third-party developers are required to implement trials as a part of the certification process, providing a level of transparency, and instilling buyer confidence ahead of a purchase.
Despite its benefits to Microsoft, with the game's stability somewhat questionable in its current state, this can be seen as a divisive move on Microsoft's part. With this move, blindly investing is currently the only way to play PUBG on Xbox One, which will likely lead to increased sales over the launch period. Though for those willing to wait, it seems a free trial is still on the roadmap, once the anarchy of launch subsides.
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