Update: There's now a statement from the developers about the current state of the microtransactions below.
This is one of those instances where a game ditching its price tag arguably isn't necessarily a big deal: Fractured Space was already only £3.49 / $4.99, and websites all over the internet (including ours) have already done giveaways for free access to the game's founders packs. Free-to-play was long planned for when the game was more complete and polished, which is apparently now. If you want a go, it's on Steam.
Of course, it's a big deal depending on how the monetisation system functions, and thus far at least the Steam reviews suggest the changes made last Friday function displeasingly.
That's in part because of the new "Drop System" added to the game, in which in-game activities have a chance of giving players rewards. It's mostly similar to other games, in that those rewards come in a locked box that then needs to be opened using an in-game currency called DNA before it can be used. That currency can either be gained via play, just as the drop pods themselves, or of course purchased for real monies. It doesn't seem particularly well presented however, not least because the chance of getting a (locked) prize is delivered via a literal spinning wheel, undercutting the sense that the item was gained due to whatever you just accomplished in-game.
That said, when our Rob played the game for Premature Evaluation back in February, he had a great time:
"World of Warships is never really much more than a fanciful 1940s naval deathmatch, but I spent months playing it a few times a day, and I would argue its ship classes have far less variety than what’s available in Fractured Space. I might wish there were more in the way of team tactics and strategic choice on offer in Fractured Space, but it always gives me the thing I want the most: broadside-for-broadside space combat."
Aside from going free, this latest update adds two new maps and two new capital ships. There's a trailer that adequately relates the fantasy below:
Update: Since this story went live, its developers released this statement about the current state of the game and its drop system from the developer's:
“This is Matcatstyle – James, the CEO of Edge Case Games.
Basically we messed up.
The new Crew Collection System has been rolled out in a way that we are not proud of, and you guys have reacted to in a very understandable way. We have always worked closely with you, the community and listened along our journey through Early Access. And we are listening now.
We will now do what we should have done in the first place and ensure you have the crew you already played so hard to get. To ensure we don’t miss anything, the best way is to give everyone who has played Fractured Space before the last update all the available crew that were attainable then.
Also as some of you will have spent Platinum and Credits on Drop Ships, we will reimburse any currency spent up until this announcement.
As with all new features we’re rolled out over the past 18 months, the crew collection system will improve, and soon as well. The team have many plans to make it fun and rewarding, and of course the team are working hard on many of the other great features of the game that we know you want such as Ranked Play, Replays, Spectator Cam and much much more…
Our sincere apologies – do stick with us – and I will see you on battlefield.