Darwin Project seems to have shed some of its player base as Scavenger Studios are converting the game to free to play in order to keep queue time low for less populated servers. The players who already bought it will get a Founder's Pack.
Simon Darveau, the creative director at Scavenger Studio announced that Darwin Project will be a free to play title today, on 20 April 2018. He cited high queue times in less populated servers as the issue, but the problem is bigger than the low populated servers unfortunately.
Steam Charts show that the game averaged 330 to 650 concurrent players on Steam since it entered Early Access back in January 2018. There are ~2000 concurrent players at the time of writing, which "coincides" with the launch of free to play version of the game. This number didn't beat the peak concurrent players yet though, as the game had a 3.500 concurrent players peak in February 2018.
Darveau also noted that their goal to provide the community the unique battle royale experience will still be their primary directive. They have delivered in this regard so far, as the game features unique takes on the battle royale genre with the Show Director who can help or bully the players on the field. The Show Director is also a tool for stream viewers who can vote on the Director's decisions and interact with the game this way.
Players who have already bought Darwin Project will get the Founder's Pack as a compensation. This pack will include 2 Legendary sets, 3 Legendary Axes, 3 Legendary Bows, a full jumpsuit collection and 5 Fan Gifts. These items will be added to the Founders' inventory on 24 April 2018.
Some players who have already bought the game are asking for refunds though, refusing the Founder's Pack. This will definitely caused some controversy for the game, as the switch to free to play model wasn't previously announced and some players bought the game only hours before it happened.
Then again, people have been yelling at Scavenger Studios to make it free to play for weeks now, because the player base wasn't big enough.