Battleborn creative director Randy Varnell announced that updates to the video game would soon be coming to an end, but he followed up with big plans for the future.
A forum post on Frisco-based game developer Gearbox’s website outlined details for the game’s final creative stages: Once the previously announced fall update rolls out, Battleborn will exist in its definitive and final form — no more events, no more additions, no more balancing changes. Varnell was quick to assure players that the game’s servers would remain active far into the foreseeable future.
The first-person shooter with a large multiplayer online component is little more than a year old, and it has been fraught with troubles almost since the beginning. Battleborn launched in May 2016, only a few weeks before Blizzard’s highly anticipated, colorful team-based
shooter, Overwatch. Despite granular distinctions in gameplay, the public conflated the two games as rivals in the same genre. Rather than change the release of its game, Gearbox opted to stick with its original plan in the face of Overwatch’s considerable marketing push.
On the day of Overwatch’s launch, Battleborn halved its purchase price. But it was still not enough to keep the company from losing more than half its PC players after only one month live.
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Critical reviews of the game were reservedly positive, claiming that while the combat was exciting, players needed to invest an inordinate amount of time to unlock enough characters and gear to provide tangible gameplay depth. Another high point was Battleborn’s diverse roster of playable characters, a strength of Gearbox’s other smash series, Borderlands. Both games tout a tonal mixture of badass and exaggerated humor that fans have come to expect as the studio’s modus operandi.
The positive reviews were not enough to carry the game to the success of its competitors, and rumors of the game switching to a free-to-play model were confirmed in June when the game entered a free trial period with no end date. Existing players who bought the game at full price were awarded bonus content in the form of exclusive in-game rewards.
Varnell’s news Friday marks the last chapter in the game’s life cycle, but his post did not stop there. Amid heartfelt thanks to dedicated players, he announced that he would be working in a "significant role" as part of the Gearbox staff moving to an as-yet-unannounced project being developed at the company. Nothing more about it is known.
“It’s been a long labor of love with many of my good friends at Gearbox, and I’m proud to have shared that journey with you, our community,” Varnell says. “Your spirit and loyalty have been a constant inspiration to the team at Gearbox.”