The final update for Gearbox’s failed hero shooter Battleborn arrived last week, tweaking game mechanics slightly, fixing a few bugs and adding some new skins and taunts before closing the door on continued development. It did not have a good run.
As announced in September, the fall update for Battleborn is its last dose of new content. Servers will remain operational for the foreseeable future, but development is done. Those still playing the game can now dress several characters up in Borderlands skins, perhaps a reminder that Gearbox makes popular games as well.
Battleborn is not a bad game. When it launched back in May of 2016, it had a lot going for it—cool characters, solid combat mechanics and an interesting setting. It was repetitive and needed a lot of fleshing out, but the potential was there. But in order to reach that potential it needed players, and what might have been the audience for Gearbox’s big game was too busy playing Blizzard’s Overwatch, also released in May of 2016, to care.
The few fans the game did manage to garner cared very much about Battleborn. In November of last year, a group of fans organised a special event aimed at bringing new players to the game. While the “Battleborn Day” event didn’t have much of an effect on player population, it served as a testament to the passion of the game’s fans.
Gearbox’s official efforts to get new players into Battleborn didn’t fare much better. Rumours of the foundering game going free-to-play surfaced in September of 2016, mere months after launch. Though the rumours were denied at the time, the game did go partially free-to-play in June of this year, causing a brief jump in player numbers that fell off sharply a month after.
Though no concrete data is available for the console versions of the game, Battleborn’s sad decline can be followed via the monthly player number totals for the PC version, as presented by Steamcharts.
Battleborn is still playable for the time being, but I wouldn’t bother. Gearbox is moving on to bigger and hopefully more successful things and the player base continues to dwindle. The fall update isn’t the final nail in its coffin—that box was sealed months ago. It’s the last handful of dirt before the shovelling begins in earnest.