Battleborn Goes F2P in a Desperate Attempt to Gain Players
Randy Pitchford, head of Gearbox, has gone on record about the rumors surrounding Battleborn going F2P. While a true F2P model isn’t here, Battleborn is now available in a “free downloadable experience.”
What this basically means is that you get the full game, with no level caps or time limits, with pieces of content that can be unlocked or purchased as you need it.
This version will grant you six of the 30 heroes in-game, which are rotated each week. The progress you’ve made with any particular character carries over, meaning you can pick up where you left off whenever that character rolls back around.
So, in short, Battleborn is now free-to-play. However, Pitchford would like you to think otherwise. In a recent interview, Pitchford said “trial” a few too many times. In fact, he even went to Twitter to insist that the game is not F2P.
Still, I’m having a hard time seeing the difference between F2P and whatever Pitchford is suggesting Battleborn is currently. Stripped down online experiences where content can be purchased in-game? That sounds F2P to me.
However, this isn’t completely unwarranted. A quick look at Steam Charts would suggest that Battleborn hasn’t faired too well. Despite having a couple jumps in players, Battleborn has dropped from an average of around 4,300 players to under 100 in the past year.
What is intended to be considerate just comes off as desperate. In the context of a game that was severely overshadowed by Overwatch, the “free trial” grab for players ends up looking like an ex-girlfriend Gearbox can’t seem to get over.
This model has been seen in a few other titles as well. One that comes to mind is Rainbox Six: Siege, which offered a “starter” edition to boost players in-game. While Siege faired for better than Battleborn, the grab for players still existed.
However, not all is bad. Gearbox has promised that adopters of the game will be upgraded to “founder” status, including a few items. These include Legendary Gear, 1000 Platinum, 50,000 Credits, loot packs, a “Founder’s Crown” flair item, and other bonuses.
Still, that doesn’t seem to justify the switch. In a world of gaming that constantly allows developers and publishers to get away with mistakes, Gearbox’s switch of Battleborn to F2P just seems inconsiderate. Then, going and claiming that Battleborn is something completely different is purely disingenuous.
While a F2P model isn’t bad, the idea that developers can constantly reconfigure their games in attempts to gain more players ends up hurting the consumer. Devs are now very easily able to crank out mediocre titles that are poorly optimized (I’m looking at you ARK), hiding under masks of Early Access, pre-order bonuses, and Kickstarter campaigns.
Games switching to F2P awhile after release is just an extension of this. My suggestion would be to create an irresistibly good product instead of using cheap thrills and theatrics to sell a product that is no longer relevant.