The problem with making monsters free is that the monsters in this game are literally some of the single most expensive assets of their type being produced in the gaming industry today- With some examples having taken literal years to complete by entire teams. Impressive to consider because the hunters themselves arent exactly cake-walks either.
it takes a PHENOMENAL amount of DLC sold to recover these costs.
Most studies show that when games are “free” to play, the majority of players leave within the first week or so. From the group that stayes- A literal SINGLE digit % of players, winds up buying any DLC.
Now think about that for a moment.
How many people are at this studio? How much is their rent, insurance, bills, overheard, ETC. How much do you think a SINGLE programmer makes per year?
Now how big does the community have to be, to have enough people buying DLC, to not only pay these programmers- but pay the bills, and- Silly thought I know, actually make a profit for the companies involved (trs/2k gaming)? The average video game programmer makes about 50-75k a year, lets meet in the middle and say 60k. Again these are just “ball parks” to paint the picture here. Youd need about 7000 instances of DLC sold just to pay the salary of a single programmer. And bear in mind- For these people buying DLC, literally represent single digit % numbers of people in the community- But lets be nice, and say only 1 in 10 people buys 10 dollars worth of DLC. Youll need a pool of about 70 THOUSAND players, to pay the bill for a single programmer. Again, just super, SUPER rough ball park- Its probably even higher than this, but you get the idea.
And ill bring it up again- Think about how many people it actually takes to run this studio, or more accurately- Run this game (As TRS isnt geared towards running JUST evolve). Then think again about how large the community NEEDS to be to make it worthwhile to run a business model like this- and make it profitable.
The vast majority of free to play games are typically run by only a couple of people, or have content that is fairly cheap/inexpensive/quick to release ensuring theres a LOT of options available in their market, or are so old that they already have a LOT of content they can tuck behind pay walls, while still giving enough of the “core” game away free to feel enticing. Theres a reason there are very, VERY few “AAA” level games with high end graphics/mechanics/etc like evolve running an expansive free to play model.
COULD it have been done? Yes- Most certainly. But its amazingly risky for something with the start up investment like evolve needed. The KINGS of free to play, typically started with cheap (by comparison) games to start up. League of legends for example was started on only about 10 million bucks for everything.