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.]