Bless Online Going Free to Play on October 23

Bless is officially exiting early access on Steam on October 23 and also going free to play on the same day. The game originally launched as a buy to play game in North America and Europe, despite being free to play in every other region. The logic behind the business model was to follow in the footsteps of Black Desert Online in monetizing retail sales rather than relying heavily on micro-transactions. Unfortunately the game launched with terrible optimizations and saw its playerbase decline precipitously and the free to play move is an attempt to increase its playerbase.

Every owner of the Early Access of Bless Online, even those who purchase the game now before its official launch on Oct. 23rd, will receive unique rewards for their patronage. Those who own the Collector’s Edition will receive a lifetime premium membership subscription, and all editions receive at least three months of premium membership, along with exclusive skins that can only be obtained as an owner of the Early Access.

“It’s been a long road, but we’re excited to finally launch Bless Online on Steam this month,” said Kiwon Lee, CEO of Neowiz. “We believe that the Free to Play version of Bless Online, with all of the improvements we’ve made since Early Access began, will mark an auspicious beginning to the game’s life here in the west. We have loads of new content coming in, and cannot wait for our loyal players to see what’s next for the world of Bless.”

Alongside the release date and F2P announcement, Bless Online has received another significant patch ahead of launch. The Patala Raid, targeted at high-level players, makes its way into the game accompanied by all new bosses and loot.

Bless launched on May 30th, 2018 and hit a peak concurrent playerbase of 34,288 that week, but those numbers quickly fell. The game currently averages 561 players online at any given time and has been dropping every month since launch. The move to free to play may boost these numbers temporarily, but unless the game fixes its optimization issues, I'm not optimistic on the game's fortunes.