Natural Selection 2 holds free weekend; trying to crowdfund free updates

What does your indie team do when you have bills to pay but still want to focus on your pride and joy? Rather turn to paid DLC or start work on a sequel, Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds is trying a spot more crowdfunding to keep the FPS-RTS's free updates rolling. This comes after it launched another big free update, and has kicked off a free weekend and sale to draw in more players.

Crowdfunding development of games is very much in vouge (NS2 itself did this a bit through years of pre-orders), and crowdfunding paid DLC is starting to take off, but asking for help making free updates on this scale isn't quite so popular. Rather than simply soliciting donations, as games have before (including the original mod Natural Selection), UW is offering physical and in-game goodies like any other modern crowdfunding drive in its Reinforcement Program.

This comes on the back of NS2's big 'Reinforced' update, which took six months to develop. It brings a female marine model, the Biodome map, new weapons and abilities from gas grenades to Gorge webs, tutorials, Linux support, balance tweaks, and more.

"The Reinforcement Program allows you to decide how much of the cost of Reinforced we make back - And ultimately, whether we can continue to work full time on creating NS2 content," UW said.

In less than a day, players have coughed up over $35,000. Again, donations to support updates aren't new, but combining it with the style and rewards of modern crowdfunding is a savvy move. I must say I'm enjoying seeing developers feel out what's possible with it all.

Anyway, NS2 is holding a free weekend on Steam to celebrate the launch, letting everyone play until 1pm Pacific on Sunday. The price is cut by 75% for the weekend too, bringing it down to $6.24. Look, here's a trailer for the Reinforced update: