Battleborn, the hero shooter from Borderlands developer Gearbox Software, has just gone free-to-play but the game is still struggling to attract players. Battleborn got off to a rocky start when it was released last year as the game launched alongside Blizzard’s rival multiplayer game, Overwatch.
Yesterday, Gearbox announced plans to make Battleborn partly free-to-play. This “free downloadable experience” allows players to play as six of the game’s characters out of 30 (they are rotated each week) and offers no time limits or level caps as they advance through the ranks of its competitive multiplayer. The story missions require a paid-for upgrade to the full game but Battleborn newcomers can still get to grips with the game find find their favorite heroes by trying their hand at a tutorial mode called Incursion, The Dojo practice range (which includes all 30 characters) and a Novice Queue which lets newbies play together separately from existing players.
For a game that is perhaps best known for including a Borderlands 3 teaser, or playing second fiddle to Overwatch, this change could pay off in the long-run. But right now, Battleborn‘s numbers aren’t looking any better, on PC at least. According to data from Steam, Battleborn was hitting an average of 82.2 players, with a peak of 180 for the month of May 2017 but the data from the last 30 days (including its switch to free-to-play yesterday) has seen the game hit an average of 101.7 players and today it hit a peak of 1,289.
In all fairness, Battleborn‘s numbers could continue to climb. The free to play switcheroo is something that fans have been expecting for quite some time, as plans leaked eight months ago. So as word spreads about the change, those who previously avoided the title due to its paid-for status may give it another look. Other games that have made the change to free to play, such as Evolve, drew in even more players and turned the game’s fortune’s around completely.
But with that said, it’s not as though the competition from Overwatch has gone away. In fact, additional competition from games like (Overwatch clone) Hero Mission and other hero shooters like Paladins will have only made Battleborn‘s uphill climb that much steeper. Gearbox will have its fingers crossed that not all is lost for its game though, so expect the developer to pull out all of the stops as it tries to get it back on track.
Battleborn is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Source: Steam Charts