Multiplayer-only games live or die on their ability to draw a lasting playerbase, but this can be tricky when you've only got the resources of a small indie studio at hand. Unknown Worlds is tackling this head-on before it can even become an issue for Natural Selection 2, handing out an extra 45,000 free copies of its FPS-RTS to pre-orderers to jump-start the multiplayer community.
The announcement came after pre-orders launched on Steam on Tuesday, and Unknown Worlds shut down its own pre-order program. Everyone who pre-ordered before this will get an upgrade to the Digital Deluxe Edition (with soundtrack; art book; wallpapers; and more exclusive marine armour), beta access all the way up to launch, and a spare copy to give to a friend.
The free copies haven't been given out yet, but are coming.
If you want to buy NS2 now, you'll need to pre-order from Steam. $25 gets you the Digital Deluxe Edition, which will cost $40 after launch, or you can pick up four copies for $75. You won't, however, get beta access or a free spare copy.
Free copies are certainly a sensible move, and the timing is right. InterWave Studios gave out extra copies to people who bought its own indie multiplayer FPS-RTS Nuclear Dawn in June to revive the playerbase, but sadly that doesn't seem to have been very effective. Having a potential 45,000 extra players right out the gate should hopefully serve NS2 better.
Natural Selection 2 is due to finally launch for PC in October, with Mac and Linux editions planned. If you missed it, here's a shiny recent trailer revealing NS2's stompy exosuit for the marine side:
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