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Rocket League is a vehicular soccer video game developed and published by Psyonix. Rocket League is a sequel to Psyonix’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a 2008 video game for the PlayStation 3. Battle-Cars received mixed reviews and was not a success, but gained a loyal fan base. Psyonix continued to support themselves through contract development work for other studios while looking to develop a sequel. Psyonix began formal development of Rocket League around 2013, refining the gameplay from Battle-Cars to address criticism and fan input. Psyonix also recognized their lack of marketing from Battle-Cars and engaged in both social media and promotions to market the game, including offering the game for free for PlayStation Plus members on release. Rocket League was praised for its gameplay improvements over Battle-Cars, as well as its graphics and overall presentation, although some criticism was directed towards the game’s physics engine.
The game earned a number of industry awards and saw over 10 million sales and 40 million players by the beginning of 2018. Rocket League has also been adopted as an esport, with professional players participating through ESL and Major League Gaming along with Psyonix’s own Rocket League Championship Series. Rocket League’s gameplay is largely the same as that of its predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. Players control a rocket-powered car and use it to hit a ball that is much larger than the cars towards the other team’s goal area to score goals, in a way that resembles indoor soccer, with elements reminiscent of a demolition derby. Players’ cars have the ability to jump to hit the ball while in mid-air. Players can alter their car’s orientation while midair, which combined with midair boosting allows for controlled flight. Players can also perform quick dodges, causing their car to do a short jump and spin in a given direction, which can be used to nudge the ball or gain a positioning advantage over the other team. Matches can be played from between one-on-one up to four-on-four players, as well as in casual and ranked playlists. The latter serves as Rocket League’s competitive online mode, where players compete in various tiered ranks within game seasons, with victories or losses raising or lowering a player’s rank, respectively. The game includes a single-player «season» mode, with the player competing with computer-controlled players. A few months after it was released, Psyonix released an update that added game modes known as «mutators», modifying some aspects of gameplay, such as increased or decreased gravity, ball size, ball speed, and bounciness.
An update in December 2016, known as «Starbase ARC» added support for custom arenas for Windows players supported through Steam Workshop, along with other new content. In celebration of Super Bowl LV in February 2021, Psyonix released a limited-time game mode called Gridiron, which functions similar to gridiron football with the normal soccer ball being replaced by a football. As part of a means to monetize the game beyond downloadable content, Psyonix has tried a few different approaches. In September 2016, it introduced a loot box system known as «Crates», where players could purchase them with a random selection of in-game customization items, opened through the purchase of Keys using real-world funds. Due to increasing governmental concern over loot boxes, Psyonix replaced the Crates system with Blueprints in December 2019, which offers a known specific item with potential modifiers as potential end-of-match drops. The Item Shop includes all types of in-game items, such as Painted Cars, Exotic Wheels, Goal Explosions, and many more. Separately, Psyonix added a battle pass feature to the game in September 2018, known as the «Rocket Pass». Each pass, which lasts a few months, has challenges and other opportunities through playing Rocket League that allows players to increase the tier of the Pass, from which new unique customization options tied to that pass can be unlocked. While the Rocket Pass is free to all players, a flat-cost premium option can be purchased which accelerates the level up rate and unlocks additional items at certain tier levels.