Gearbox’s FPS/hobby-grade coop campaign/genre blended, multi-mode competitive e-sports/meta-growth, choice + epic Battleborn heroes game, Battleborn [official site], is being put out to pasture. By that I mean that the shooter has no more planned content on the horizon and creative director, Randy Varnell, is moving to another project but the servers are staying up for the time being.
Varnell announced the news via a post in the Gearbox forums and, to be honest, I think most people with an awareness of the game and its player numbers have been expecting this news for a while, especially after Battleborn going partially free-to-play didn’t seem to boost figures in a meaningful way.
Here’s the meat of Varnell’s post:
“As of this week, there will be no more Battleplans and there is currently no planned content after the Fall Update. Details of any future changes or news will be made on our forums or through social media, so keep your radars on.
“Never fear! Battleborn is here to stay. Nothing is changing with Battleborn, and the servers will be up and active for the foreseeable future. We announced the Fall Update for the game at PAX including some new skins, themed around some of your favorite Borderlands characters! That update will also include some updated title art (more full bar titles!) for the more significant challenges in the game, as well as some additional Finisher Boosts and Taunts. Also, there are minor balance changes in that patch.
“If you’ve been paying attention to recent news from the Gearbox Panel at PAX West, you’ll have heard that many folks at Gearbox are working on a highly anticipated project. Although I’m sad my time on Battleborn is coming to a close, I’m happy to announce that I will play a significant role on this highly anticipated but unannounced game, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing some from me again in the future regarding Gearbox games.”
It goes on to thank the community who stuck with the game and, if you are one of the few still into the game, there’s also a skin code for the hero Deande.
Battleborn itself was a confusing prospect at release. I reviewed it at the time and the conclusion was that “For everything Battleborn does, another game does it better.” I know that the team tinkered and tweaked and added new heroes and new modes and things, but it never seemed to find its way out of being a mishmash of ideas – a Jack of all trades and master of none. I went back in June this year to check out a new Supercharge mode but the wait times for matches I’d need to grind out to get out of the novice queue which had been added to the game were prohibitive: 20 minutes to get together a 5v5 and 16 minutes for 5 versus bots.
Anyway, so. My take on this is that Gearbox took a shot at trying to reinvigorate interest in the game and keep it going with dev support for just over a year but that beyond the Fall Update it’s just not sensible to keep pouring resources into a game with so few players. Keeping the servers going means current players can get a decent chance to tinker with the Fall Update and that, presumably, it can still act as a potential source of revenue until the game fades out to the point where Gearbox decide to switch off the servers completely.
I sometimes wondered how the console figures compared with PC but if the game is no longer being supported I’m guessing they were also pretty dang low. In case you like peering at upsetting charts, here’s Battleborn on SteamCharts. The two green months are the massive winter update (January 2017) and the game going partially free-to-play (June 2017).