When Epic Games bought out Rocket League devs Psyonix in May 2019, many feared the worst for the future of the game. So far, it seems like the move benefited the game of jet-fueled car soccer, with many long-awaited features added alongside a move to the free-to-play model.
Cross-platform play: promises kept
The biggest question about the acquisition was whether players who purchased the game on Steam and other platforms would end up shafted when it comes to the future development of Rocket League. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case, with robust cross-platform support made available for the fans.
This isn’t only related to content: the ability to seamlessly play with players on different consoles, and the flexibility of the game’s controls that enable people to play at a high level regardless of their choice, is a big part of Rocket League’s recent successes.
The long-awaited feature has greatly enhanced the competitive aspect of the popular video game, with friends from PC and consoles alike easily able to play side-by-side on the servers. It remains a bedrock of the gameplay experience.
It’s also logical to assume that the feature played a part in the growth of interest in the game’s competitive scene as your console of choice no longer serves as a distinct disadvantage, with esports betting site Rivalry reporting a robust spike in Rocket League esports betting volumes. It’s just one of the many reasons why pro play is experiencing growth in the game.
Rocket League esports: the growth continues
The Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) has been on a steady growth trajectory over time, as the game is uniquely suited to attracting an audience outside of esports. It’s cars playing football with rockets attached to them, what more explanation do you need about the premise? No one can even imagine the same levels of accessibility for a MOBA like League or even a shooter like Call of Duty with its arcane rulesets related to the various game modes.
The hope was that the Epic Games pickup would provide an endless stream of resources for Psyonix to improve the product, without the sort of corporate meddling and overzealous oversight that ruined many fan projects after such acquisitions. The patchy state of Fortnite esports was a bit of a concern in this regard, but so far it seems like they’re good shepherds of Rocket League’s esports scene.
The RLCS has been revamped for its tenth season with three different seasonal splits leading up to the global finals, with added fan engagement generated by The Grid events where teams are encouraged to host their own broadcasts throughout the weekly competitions. It should be just the beginning for the brave new world of Rocket League as the pandemic finally begins to recede and most restrictions on LAN events are becoming a thing of the past.
What other features are coming to Rocket League?
Without a doubt the biggest one on the agenda was the game’s move to a free-to-play business model, making the core gameplay experience available to everyone and focusing on cosmetics to monetize the product instead. This model has seen quite a lot of success in the industry in the preceding years, with massive titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive also opting to adopt it after many years of regular pricing alongside the microtransaction-based cosmetic elements included in the game.
It’s worth mentioning that the new owners of the game, Epic Games, who bought developers Psyonix in May 2019, have the resources to really hone in on Rocket League’s vision and the experience to monetize a product like this thanks to their incredible successes with Fortnite. Indeed, the prestige and quality of the commercial partnerships related to the new premium DLC content pieces – which are also available via cross-platform play now as long as you link your alternative platform account with your Epic Games registration – has shot up, now including manufacturers like Lamborghini, media franchises like Fast & Furious or real-life racing competitions like Formula One.
No doubt there’s much more to come for Rocket League. The devs have also poured a lot of resources into welcoming newcomers to the game with a revamped Academy content series, making it even easier to pick up the game of rocket-powered battle cars regardless of the console of your choice.