Battleborn is an online FPS game with a heavy focus on a colorful cast of characters . It released back in 2016 and was trying to capitalize on the massive popularity of MOBA games. Thanks to mediocre reviews , the implementation of micro-transactions post-launch, and numerous other factors, it didn’t sell terribly well.
Dwindling player numbers and a lack of income seem to have finally taken their toll, as Battleborn is on its way to the grave. Gearbox Software recently announced that in January 2021, the game will finally be killed off for good.
Battleborn has basically been in long, drawn-out death throws since it came out. It didn’t have a massive user-base in the first place, it was unfavorably compared to Overwatch, and then it alienated people. Micro-transactions were followed by massive price drops , and eventually going free-to-play managed to annoy all those who had paid the full price for the game.
Moving forward there’s not much to do with Battleborn but try to learn some lessons from it. The main lesson in question is actually for consumers rather than game developers: Online-games are inherently worth less than offline ones.
I feel like I could hear the sound of thousands of gamers’ veins popping on their foreheads when they read that last sentence. To explain, I’m not saying that online games are bad, far from it. All I am saying is that online games should cost less to buy because unlike offline ones they come with an expiration date.
When you buy a game that is dependent on a server being live, you know it’s going to die. It’s even worse if, as in the case of Battleborn, the single-player modes also get killed off. I can’t imagine being someone who has paid $60+ for a game only to have it taken away a few years later – let alone someone who also invested in the micro-transactions as well.
Eventually, when the player-base for these games dries up, they will die. This is the case with every single online game going, even the long-lived ones. At least when you buy a single-player offline game you know you’re going to be able to play it for potentially decades to come. Even if not you can at least trade it in for a return on your investment.
The major takeaway here is not to buy a full-price online game. Online games are temporary. If they’re going to charge the same price as a game which will last forever, then they’re trying to trick you. Just look at Battleborn. It had dropped in price within a few weeks. The same can and will happen with other games.
The best way that games can avoid dying like Battleborn is by being free at release. It won’t save a bad game, but it gives a great boost to well-made titles. Being free means that anyone can try a game. If they like the game, most players don’t feel too bad about investing in micro-transactions at least a little – as long as those micro-transactions aren’t loot boxes.
If Battleborn had been free when it came out, it might have done better. As it goes it couldn’t stand up to the competition and its eventual move to free-to-play just annoyed early adopters. In truth, no matter how bad micro-transactions can get, it’s got to be better than forcing full-price for a transient game.