Battleborn Adds Cosmetic Microtransactions Tomorrow

Okay, shh shhh I’m going to do it. Keep quiet or you’ll blow everything. If the news editor finds out I’m posting about another already-released game during E3 week, I’m really in for it. Though this is perhaps a game not many have even noticed is out, going by player numbers. Okay, I’m going to do it. One of you distract her for me – bottle of whisky dangling from a stick should do it.

So! With bloody-minded persistence despite playercounts which have fallen out of Steam’s top 100, Gearbox and 2K’s so-so FPS Battleborn [official site] is going ahead with plans to add optional microtransaction cosmetic doodads.

First, the good news. A big patch arrived yesterday with performance improvements, balance changes, tweaks, and bug fixes. That’s all good! Good patch.

What’s less exciting is what’s coming tomorrow. That update will focus on Battleborn’s Marketplace, the in-game store where players can buy gear with a currency earned by playing. As of tomorrow, it’ll also sell cosmetic skins and taunts for a different virtual currency – Platinum, which must be bought with real money.

It’ll cost $1.99 for a taunt and about about $3.50 for a skin. I say “about” because, of course, the quantities Platinum is sold in won’t align neatly with how much skins cost.

I’ve bought virtual wizard hats myself but this seems a bit cheeky to players when it’s not clear how much longer Battleborn will even have other people to admire their glad rags. Look at all 100 games with more players on Steam than this big-budget shooter that’s barely six weeks old. Heck, it had a 40% discount for a few days on Steam three weeks after launch. These are not positive indicators for a game’s long-term health.

If Battleborn were to find a second wind (while I’m not interested, I’m sure there are others out there who’d dig it), it’d need: 1) a large and permanent price cut; 2) to inspire confidence in its future. The game already costs £40 and has an £16 season pass too. Microtransactions on top will hardly help revitalise it, which should probably be the top priority for a multiplayer-focused game. I’m sure the work for this was already mostly finished, but it’s sending the wrong message.

[Disclosure: I used to work with a person (or two? we’ve not kept in touch so I don’t really know what they’ve done) who worked on Battleborn.]


  1. SaintAn says:

    And now it’s on my do not buy list.

  2. HefHughner says:

    Wow, bad timing. I don’t mind optional – cosmetic – microtransactions tbh, but a lot of people do. Including microtransactions into a game that desperately needs good press and positive user-reviews to stay alive probably means they have given up hope and want to get as much $ as possible out of it before they admit defeat…

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      The disappointing side of digital delivery and online only. I’m getting hesitant to spend a single cent on anything outside GoG or cheap bundles and sales if there’s no other choice than Steam. Microtransactions in online games has gone to a big No for me.

      I lost SWAT4 Gold among a few others with the failures of Direct2Drive/GameFly and Impulse (sold to GameStop and discontinued), some minor DLC from GfWL Store in games migrated to Steamworks, minus DLC (Dead Rising 2), even more stuff in shut MMO’s and early digital card games, progression in others (time “investment” for useless levels and unlocks) in GameSpy games and anything else shut down.
      I even replaced some game discs with digital in the early days before the burns. Oh and digital stuff bought on obsolete consoles I worry about breaking every time I plug them in.

      It sucks when things you spent time and money on just goes *poof* with the cloud.

      • Blastaz says:

        You say that as if physical media never decayed. CDs would regularly get scratched and need to be replaced. Or lost/borrowed and forgotten about or thrown away to clear space.

        Losing a handful of very old games due to service provider obsliesence is hardly a greater strike rate…

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          True. But speaking for myself, the only discs I’ve ever lost in 20+ years are some I’ve burned myself on crap brand CD’s and then mishandled. I’ve got some music CD’s that skip sometimes on bad days and they are seriously scratched. My PS1 collection is also intact despite being mishandled by my four siblings and some of my used games look like someone used sandpaper on them but they’re perfectly functional. Discs are really durable as long as you don’t scratch the top side.

          More durable than a rented server, license agreements and bad business decisions.

          It’s not comparable to the durability of a disc collection since that is entirely under my control and it’s *my* fault if I step on a disc with my golf shoes. (and nobody can come to my house and scratch off songs from a GTA disc because a some deal expired).

        • socrate says:

          Talk for you i take care of my stuff i still have all my dark cloud game and gta and Ps2 game in working order…console these days break when their brand new quite frankly quality as dropped alots even in physical product…digital is no better really…well i guess other then piracy which actually make you get what could end up being lost because some company couldn’t bother making proper backup or re-releasing their product until they were sure they could make insane profit with low investement..not to forget modding which often support long dead game with patching from the community and such.

      • nearly says:

        Gamefly’s digital download service folded? I had no idea. What I find more shocking, though, is that you were burned on those other digital distributors folding and still managed to get burned by Gamefly. I seem to remember grabbing Bioshock for free when they were trying to kick off the service, but I also remember the service being very much a beta and identified as having a somewhat tenuous future. I also seem to remember all the other digital games I bought from them having Steam keys.

        Honestly, the smart thing to do has basically always been (for probably the past ten years at least) to back up anything not on Steam. Anything old enough that you’d lose it now is also old enough that it doesn’t magically require cloud services which are no longer available. I kind of doubt there’s much to lose if you’re not archiving or backing up. I know I’d download everything I don’t have if any service I’ve bought games from was folding.

        As it is, I’ve only ever lost games from OnLive (which I bought because it was 1$ and they promised they would be available until a certain date which was more than good enough for me), and I guess my Gotham City Imposters purchase when that went F2P. I’ve actually gained more stuff from services like GFWL folding without losing anything: my Arkham City was upgraded to GOTY edition for free (and they even tossed in Blackgate, I think? no idea how that ended up in my library but I remember it being some sort of apology), as well as Dirt 3. I’m fairly sure they also gave me a Steam key retroactively for Arkham City as I don’t have any of the achievements on Steam and I definitely have completed the game.

        Aside from that, I can definitely confirm Steam and GOG are good at letting you download/re-download removed games. Still have access to RUSE on Steam and Fallout Classic on GOG even though both have been removed from sale.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Direct2Drive was owned by IGN, bought by GameFly and resold to some Chinese company that changed the name back to D2D. I only bought stuff from both of them when they were on their first owners.

          So I wasted the evening/night checking up on GameStop-Impulse and Direct2Drive-GameFly and it’s actually not as bad as I thought.

          On D2D-GameFly-D2D I had mostly Steam keys and activations for MMO’s so no big deal but SWAT 4 Gold is still removed from download and my old backup requires an authentication server that doesn’t exist but the serial key worked for a (not-so-legit) disc copy. :)
          I also had Sword of The Stars and Rome: Total War, my old backups had the same authentication problem as SWAT4 but Sword of the Stars had got a SecuROM patch that wasn’t available in the months after the ownership change and activations now worked. Rome didn’t get any patch in its downloads but the SecuROM patch from Sword of The Stars worked on that too!

          The GameStop App (Impulse) on the other hand looks like it has rotted. I’m unable to log in since the two-step login says “An unknown server error has occured. please try again later”, and it’s not sending any mail with the activation code to log in.
          In that store I had mostly StarDock games that got migrated to their site and Steam keys but I did have Achtung Panzer and Amnesia that I can no longer download. I still have backup archives though and they still work fine when just unpacking and running them, 2-3 Windows installs later.

          So as long as I’m not losing the GameStop/Impulse backups and the filthy pirate disc of SWAT4 I still have all the games.

          It definitely didn’t make me less hesitant about going back to All-in positive for cloud services and Online Only though.

  3. anHorse says:

    Your game is flagging and you do something that will make it even less appealing?

    Okay then

    • morrolan says:

      Its bizarre, they must be so out of touch its ridiculous. All this will do is drive away more players.

      • socrate says:

        yeah and they were so in touch with their bordeland community right not like they repeated the same game over and over and over without fixing what was inherently killing it slowly.

  4. Thants says:

    Microtransactions. Is there any word more thrilling to the human soul?

  5. Morcane says:

    That’s a shame. I enjoy Battleborn (for some reason(s) a lot more than Overwatch), but this is sure to drive me away.

  6. a very affectionate parrot says:

    I’m not a fan of these kind of online shooters but Battleborn seems particularly objectionable. I have to say if this tanks Gearbox I won’t miss them much.

  7. KDR_11k says:

    Well, Payday 2’s update posts were filled with ASCII middle fingers and swearing towards the developer while they had microtransactions in the game. If Gearbox wants some of that be my guest.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Er, the comments to those posts were, not the posts by the developer of course.

  8. montorsi says:

    If the three or four people who play this trainwreck of a MOBA are willing to plunk down money for skins, well, whatever.

  9. Kolyarut says:

    Worth noting of course that the competition does also have microtransactions – Overwatch’s MTs are the far worse Hearthstone-style kind, where you pay for a roll of the dice and have no guarantee of ever getting what you were after (beyond extremely gradual coin/dust accumulation). $3 for one skin you actually want, or $5 for five boxes full of junk; Battleborn does have the better deal there.

    Of course everyone’s completely right in saying that it’s a move taken straight from the Evolve handbook of How To Make A Successful Online Game, and there’s no reason to expect different results here.

    • morrolan says:

      The difference between OW and BB is that the OW MTs are for loot boxes available in game, BB is for items not available for purchase in game. OW also had a significantly lower price and no season pass/purchased DLC. I personally think that overall the OW approach is better and the RNG is less punishing than any other game I have played.

      • TormDK says:

        I paid the same price for Overwatch, as I did Battleborn.

        (Bought Digital Deluxe versions for both, from Steam and the B-Net store)

        Personally, I prefer the system Battleborn has, in that you get what you want, rather than some absurd chance for something.

        And thats coming from someone that purchased tons of 40 unit card packs for Hearthstone.

      • Kolyarut says:

        They are available in game, but at a 7% drop rate for any legendary skin and no anti-repeat mechanic, they almost may as well not be. Your options really are to get super lucky or to spend cash. Coins are (eventually) an option but woe betide you if you want more than one (in a game designed around regular in-match character switching).

        On the plus side at least, unlike Hearthstone, the game isn’t balanced around full ownership of the randomly packed items!

  10. Jediben says:

    At this rate I doubt their player figures will even top 100.

  11. Banks says:

    Gearbox is so scummy. And you can’t be so scummy while making shitty games for too long.

    At least they didn’t add a fucking slot machine like in Overwatch. Kudos for that.

  12. Winstons says:

    What the hell is going on in that screenshot? It’s like a cartoon has been sick on itself.

    • ran93r says:

      That’s pretty much what I took from all the gameplay videos, it’s like a clown exploded.

  13. killmachine says:

    good that i followed my gut and not buying this. typical scumbag gearbox. alien colonial marines, duke nukem forever, never forget. at least i will be able to check it out when it goes free2play which it definitely will. i mean, even now it’s a free2play progression where you have to unlock characters even though you bought the game. it’s made for free2play and i’m sorry for the people who payed full price for it.

    • adtawesome says:

      You have to buy CoD for fullprice and still unlock the weapons…nothing surprising here

  14. Bidley says:

    So much negativity surrounding this game, it really makes me sad. I have a lot of fun playing this, and I think there are a lot of people out there who would enjoy it.

    I think it needs a Steam free weekend, and a price decrease (despite thinking it’s worth the current price tag).

    Cosmetic microtransactions don’t bother me at all.

    • Kolyarut says:

      I did try it out during beta, and could see it being something I could have gotten into if it had released during a less release-packed window. Conceptually it seemed fun, when it was first announced and talked about! But the single player during beta didnt feel Borderlands enough to excel as a proper loot driven game, and the action wasn’t polished enough to excel as a Left 4 Dead / Vermintise type game. With another year of tuning and polish maybe it could have found a sweet spot?

  15. adtawesome says:

    This’ll better fix those problem a lot of people me including have. If so, i won’t mind the microtrans, as long as you don’t HAVE to do it for succeding in the game. Even though i don’t like the idea of mircotrans in fullprice games…

  16. xshadow says:

    I think this game need to be f2p with microtransactions then Battleborn will be a enemy for DOTA 2

  17. Hastur609 says:

    Unlocks gained by finding secrets or getting achievements is fine, sometimes cool, it’s how games did it since the Xbox / PS2 era.

    In Predator: Concrete Jungle,which I paid $40 for at EB games a decade ago, and I didn’t grind to get my Yuatja’s alternate skins and weapon upgrades. I progressed through the game naturally, my skins and trophies unlocked when I killed hidden enemies, slew a specific number of xenomorphs while fleeing from a melting down reactor core, or even blew up a special series of parked cars in a parking garage…

    Yet here Gearbox makes a full price game that isn’t even certain to float longer than a few more months and not only asks for a season pass for just two characters, but is now trying to make us pay for additional cosmetics, which is fine I guess since it’s- Oh wait, Gearbox you mean your game isn’t free to play? So this is a full priced game that you’re trying to full of microtransactions and character grind?

    Right… Well I’ll leave you to digging your hole, you’ve already gotten a head start as it is.