LawBreakers is free from now until the servers shut off

LawBreakers

I feel genuinely sorry for the folks at Boss Key Productions. By all accounts, LawBreakers wasn’t the game that they wanted to make, but they still delivered a pretty polished arena shooter that just never found the audience it was looking for. Publisher Nexon America are keeping the lights on until September, and in order to give the game a proper sendoff, the formerly retail game is now free for all to jump in and play.

Lawbreakers feels like a game that launched at exactly the wrong time. Just as interest was shifting more towards slower, chunkier, more predictable games like Overwatch, Boss Key delivered a bizarre hybrid of Quake 3 and Starsiege: Tribes, two games which were already out of vogue to begin with. Few people even turned up to early free beta events, and the game fizzled out almost as soon as it launched. It did get some post-release updates, but perhaps the marketing pushed a little too hard, as you can see below.

With the studio floundering and unable to find a publisher, they went all-in with what little resources they had to produce ’80s TV-themed battle royale Radical Heights, but it was just too rough and patchy to garner an audience either, leading to the studio shutting down. Never forget, though, that this was exactly the situation that Digital Extremes found themselves in with Warframe so many years ago. The only difference is that despite launching with almost no content, Warframe found a niche, and had a chance to grow. The games industry is a fickle place.

I do hope that out there, somewhere, there’s a plan to work out how to host unofficial third-party servers for LawBreakers. Fittingly enough, this would be bending the rules of legality somewhat, but game preservation has to happen one way or another. Even if it never finds an audience in the end, it would be a relief to me – and most likely to the development team, now hunting for jobs – for the game to live on, at least in some small way. Until then, come score some frags.

LawBreakers is free now on Steam, and will be closing its doors this September 14th.

21 Comments

  1. mitrovarr says:

    It’d be pretty funny if this is the thing that actually finds the game an audience. Bitter humor, mind you.

    • aepervius says:

      Actualy it is usual. People want to see the game before it shuts down, to see what it was about. It happens to all game shutting down.

  2. LearningToSmile says:

    Going to redownload the game during this weekend, I had a blast in the open beta, and I’d love to play it again.

    Such a boneheaded ego move making it not free to play in the first place.

    • Troubletcat says:

      Dunno that it was so much an ego move as it was a “we have a team of developers who need to eat and the hardcore arena shooter crowd we’re targeting will never, ever, even for a split second consider playing our game if there are any gameplay-altering microtransactions”

      • Excors says:

        Maybe the boneheaded ego move was targeting such a tiny audience and thinking that’d bring enough success by itself, especially for a game with high production values (which are not cheap).

  3. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    I’ve certainly gotten my pre-f2p money’s worth out of the game, and it’s been pretty nice having several hundred players to go up against for the past couple days again instead of ten or twenty out of the same bunch each weekend, I must say! Lots of beta players coming back saying they missed it, as well as the influx of newbies trying their hand at something a bit different. But yeah, the news is bittersweet since it includes the eventual shutdown of the servers.

    Regarding the game’s preservation, there are a number of folks trying to save what they can of the game, some discussing asset ripping and packet sniffing, others going off to try reconstructing the existing movement and gunplay on their own while it’s still possible to test the real deal, and then taking it their own way from there. From what we’ve heard from the devs, it sounds like actual server emulation is going to be a tough nut to crack, though. Between dev diaries, internal progress report videos made public, and chats with the community post-BKP-shutdown, it’s become clear there are a lot of clever things going on server-side to make the game play as smoothly and responsively as it does, and that there are a number of separately operating parts communicating with each other to make the whole “server” function. Some of that’ll be mundane stuff like “progression” databases, of course, but the impression I got was that all the various parts are bound up tightly enough to make proper preservation of the server (and therefore the experience of playing the game at all, darn you online multiplayer-only games) quite the task.

    Aaaanyway, I’ll squeeze some more joy and notes out of the movement while I still can. It took some getting used to, but it’s been well worth it!

  4. jozinho says:

    Does it have bots? I’m a single-player type.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Not in any meaningful sort of way, no. Just one map with what are essentially punching bags standing around, a few of which shoot. Welcoming new players was not one of the game’s strong points…

  5. Niesyto says:

    Is it really surprise to anyone that it has failed? This game decided to hop on the bandwagon of hero shooters, it wasn’t inventive at all. There can be only as much Overwatch type games… And what did they do when the idea failed? They went for battle royale. Obviously, since now it’s the trend. 5 years ago they would probably go for moba or space sim like Star Citizen., 3 yeras ago for a card game. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about this game, it was mediocre at best, and had implemented nothing new or even fun

    • Flopdong says:

      It’s quite clear you never played the game. I wouldn’t say that making a hero shooter was hugely original, but giving every character extremely unique movement styles was definitely an inventive choice. The game was tons of fun

  6. Ham Solo says:

    ANUTHURR BULLION DULLUR IP

  7. PiiSmith says:

    I guess it should have been F2P from the start.

  8. CelestialSlayer says:

    If they had done f2p and lootboxes it would have been a roaring success, but the gaming community would have been in uproar.Instead they went for a retail product and bombed.

  9. Zorgulon says:

    It’s never nice to see something fail like this, and it’s a further shame to hear that third-party dedicated servers seem undoable. Hopefully players can eke enough fun out of the swan song over the next few months.

    But sheesh, I could not make it through that trailer.

    • Excors says:

      I thought that might just be a single very poorly-judged trailer, so I looked at some of the others. They’re not quite as bad, but they’re still pretty bad.

      “Sign in to confirm your age; Age-restricted video (requested by uploader)” on their official Youtube channel, and “Mature 17+” – why? It looks like totally normal cartoon violence and there’s barely any swearing. Are they using age restrictions as a way to make it feel more edgy? I don’t want to sign in so it just makes it needlessly hard to learn about their game.

      “Are you skilled AF?” – no, I’m not. I mean, I think I’m much better than the average FPS player, but much worse than the best, and there’s no way I’d ever use the term “AF” anyway. Some of their trailers have real-life people wearing “skilled AF” T-shirts. They repeatedly talk about the extreme difficulty and skill gaps. Someone says that if you aren’t good, you won’t have fun.

      Who is that meant to appeal to? In Overwatch, only about 4% of players are master/GM ranks (which I think are considered fairly respectable). 6% are in bronze (which is dreadful, with people who can’t even walk and shoot simultaneously). 90% are somewhere in between. Aiming all your marketing at the 4% doesn’t seem a good way to get market share and a sustainable player base.

      Surely your marketing team should aim at the masses – the very best players will hear about your game anyway, since they follow the FPS scene closely, and if the gameplay is not terrible then they’ll stay because of the stream views and tournament prizes that are funded by the masses, and they’ll demonstrate the skill ceiling and encourage more halfway-decent players to check it out.

      (There’s also the issue that the most skilful FPS players often seem to be around 18-20 years old and have played their game since launch; that’s awkward for a game that expects to last for several years and has a 17+ rating.)

      I had vaguely thought about checking out the game since it was free; I already knew the marketing was annoying, but watching it again just annoys me more, and makes me feel like sticking with much more welcoming games. Maybe that’s just a marketing failure and the game itself isn’t so irritating, though?

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        Thank you for the refreshingly thoughtful commentary. :)

        In addition to what you talk about, the relatively few middle-of-the-road players who did end up biting – for whatever reason; certainly not the marketing, in my case – found themselves with a small initial player base spread thin across a broad range of skill levels, and the occasional encounter with the type of player who goes for kill count in an objectives centric game. This got worse as time went on and people left, although objective shirkers are nearly non-existent among the pre-f2p player base. Something that made it even worse for newbies, shy, and mid-skilled folks was that there was no significant on-boarding or bot matches to speak of for the entire life of the game, which is not a good thing when the game has so many interesting/odd things to get used to. The guns and movement provide a lot of room to improve one’s skill at the game, but without something in place to teach you properly, and with the skill gaps aplenty, there’s no hope other than to learn by trial by fire.

        It is in principle a good game made by some talented and friendly devs (I’ve not experienced the infamous Cliff), but there are tons of things big and small – like the marketing, and the timing and learning requirement without good learning facilities, and the unappealing or not-immediately-endearing characters – which added up to its failure. I’m always irritated by the quick dismissive comments surrounding this game, especially here on RPS of all places (though I rarely pay attention to MP games, so it could be like this elsewhere, for all I know…), so thanks again for contributing to the civil side of the discussion!

      • Robert The Rebuilder says:

        It’s as if Cliff reviewed the marketing mishaps of Daikatana and thought, “Wow – I can make that work for *my* game!”

  10. MajorLag says:

    I find it difficult to have any positive feelings towards developers that insist on making their game self-destruct like this. Used to be if you bought a game you could keep playing it; and if it was multiplayer you could play it on a LAN. If you paid for this game, you’re SOL now. What a glorious future we live in.

  11. gunny1993 says:

    Matthew Mcconaughey walks into a game of Lawbreakers, looks around, leaves without speaking

  12. Viral Frog says:

    I hope this brings people back. I’ve no hope that enough people will flock to the game to prevent a shutdown, but I’d love to play some more before it goes offline for good. It was such a great game but the marketing was terrible (almost non-existent as far as I could tell) and it launched at an incredibly poor time.

  13. bill says:

    “This game is not available in your region”.
    LOL… i wonder why they didn’t get many players…

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