The Culling developers address the ten-game daily limit and monetisation model

By Heidi Nicholas,
The servers for The Culling recently went live as developer Xaviant confirmed the game was back as The Culling: Origins. However, this move was met with an uncertain response, as Xaviant also revealed that players would get just one free online match per day. Unless you won this, you'd then have to pay for Online Match Tokens to unlock another match and keep playing. A few days later, the limit was upped to ten free matches instead of one, and Xaviant has now addressed the game's monetisation model — as well as the reaction to it.

The Culling ~ TitledHeroArt

The Culling has had a difficult time. Released back in October 2017, it was just two months later that Xaviant announced they would no longer be releasing updates for the game. Meanwhile, the sequel, The Culling 2, was cancelled just a week after it was released. Xaviant then announced The Culling was going free-to-play — but the servers were then closed the year after. The next development was this announcement of The Culling: Origins, with its one free match per day, which Xaviant has now upped to ten free matches. Josh Van Veld, director of operations for the game, spoke to PC Gamer about the initial one match per day limit, and says that "In retrospect, it was really obvious that one was not going to give us the flow of players. But you have to remember, we were kind of terrified of everybody coming back, overloading the servers, costing us a tonne of money and not spending anything. So we were afraid to turn that dial."

The game costs $5.99, and although it's free to those who already purchased it or got it when it was free-to-play, that daily match limit means you'd have to pay up at some point if you didn't want to wait until your next batch of free matches. The Online Match Tokens come in batches of three for $0.99, 20 for $4.99, or there's the option of a 7-day pass for $1.99 or a monthly pass for $5.99 — the same price as the game itself. Van Veld elaborates on the monetisation model, saying they "definitely weren't looking at it from the standpoint of somebody who says, 'Hey, if this game is around for a year, I'm gonna play it every day for a year.' We don't know if those people exist." Speaking on the game's history, he adds, "We tried the model of getting huge and we couldn't afford to make it work. I think if we were backed by a big publisher and had deeper pockets, when we had all of those original free-to-play players, we probably could have done something with it, but we were not equipped to ride that storm out for six months and then grow it."

On the reaction from players, Van Veld says, "I guess a lot of players were telling us that they consider themselves long-term players and they were not thrilled—especially if there's somebody who purchased the game previously before it was free-to-play—about the idea of having to spend what they feel like is a significant amount of money on an ongoing basis."

Aside from upping the daily limit, Xaviant says they've got "some additional plans in the works as well" and will announce those "as they are added". We'll keep you updated on Xaviant's plans for the game.
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've just finished studying a Masters in English Literature, but I've been obsessed with gaming since long before then. I began on the PS2 with Spyro, before graduating to the Xbox 360 and disappearing into Skyrim. I'm now a loyal RPG fan, but I still like to explore other genres — when I'm not playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, or being lured back into Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3!