Killer Instinct Returns as a Free-to-Play Xbox One Launch Title


Rare’s cult classic Killer Instinct fighting game franchise makes its return later this year as a rebooted Xbox One exclusive launch title, but not how fans might have expected.

For starters, Double Helix, not Rare, is heading up development. Also interesting-and controversial among hardcore fans apparently–is the game’s business model. Killer Instinct on Xbox One will launch as a free-to-play game featuring one playable fighter–Jago–and basic elements such as online play and a training mode. From that free starting point, players will have the option to purchase additional features and fighters, individually or in value bundles, or pay one lump sum up front to access the full game and freely download future content as it becomes available. A special edition bundle will also be available with extra bonus content, which has been hinted to be a port of the original Killer Instinct. However no details as far as pricing or specific content has been confirmed.

I honestly don’t see what’s so controversial about this model. Killer Instinct has a hardcore following, but compared to other fighting franchises like Street Fighter and Tekken and Mortal Kombat, it is far more niche than mainstream, which is probably why it has taken this long for Microsoft to green light a reboot. Having a free-to-play platform available at Xbox One launch will provide newcomers–and cautious veterans–the option to see what the new KI is all about before deciding whether to customize the experience through micro-transactions or just buy the game outright. What’s so wrong with that? Seems like a reasonable plan to me, depending on how Microsoft decides to price everything out.

Then again, I’m no Killer Instinct purist (I used to play it quite a bit on a friend’s SNES back in the day, but it doesn’t hold a special place in my heart like other fighting games) so maybe I’m missing something here. To me it looks like it’ll be an ultra-combo blast, and should I take the plunge on an Xbox One at launch I’ll be glad to have the free-to-play option available to try out first.

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Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!