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Battlefield 2042 may go free to play after a disastrous launch

Battlefield 2042 screen shot
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Battlefield 2042 was one of the most disappointing games of 2021. While it generated significant hype pre-release, it suffered a fairly rocky launch receiving mixed reviews and a tepid response from the Battlefield community. It seems that publisher EA may go to fairly extreme lengths in order to salvage its now tainted reputation. 

According to industry insider Tom Henderson, Battlefield 2042 could go free to play in order to claw back some of the players it's losing. The underwhelming state of the game has seen players abandon Battlefield 2042 in droves with its predecessors Battlefield 5 and Battlefield 1 regularly enjoying a higher player count based on Steam numbers.

Henderson claims that EA isn’t likely to make the entire game free to play, but rather a small slice of the overall experience. The game is split into three distinct modes, All-Out Warfare, Portal and Hazard Zone, presumably one of these would be made available at no cost. 

All-Out Warfare is a traditional Battlefield experience, while Portal mixes together content from classic games in the franchise. Meanwhile, Hazard Zone is a new co-op-focused offering that blends together aspects from Battle Royale games. The latter has reportedly struggled the most to retain a significant player base, so perhaps EA will seek to give it an injection of players by making it free. 

For now, this news should very much be filed under the rumor column. Neither EA nor publisher Dice have commented on the matter, and Henderson does note the move to free to play is only under consideration at the present time. 

If the game does go free to play there is also the question of how the players who shelled out up $120 on the Ultimate Edtion of the game might react. Even the base game was originally priced at $70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X. These players could feel short-changed if Battlefield 2042 becomes free to play in some forms just a few months later. 

While we’re disappointed to see Battlefield 2042 continue to flounder, even after a handful of post-launch patches, we’re not particularly surprised. In our review, we said: “Battlefield 2042 occasionally captures the epic scale and multiplayer madness the series is known for. But the game often stumbles due to poor design decisions and technical issues.” 

An EA earnings call is scheduled for February 1 which may give us more details about the future of Battlefield 2042. Although at this point, it would likely take a herculean effort to turn the game’s fortunes around and EA may ultimately decide that Battlefield 2042 just isn’t worth saving. 

Rory Mellon

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.