Battleborn is a great first person shooter game made by the creators of the Borderlands series, Gearbox. Although the game promised to be better than Overwatch in its marketing campaign, it is now completely abandoned by everyone but its developers: Steam currently has less than 1000 people playing Battleborn, meaning it does not even make it in the top 100 list. To give you a better idea of how bad this game’s playerbase is right now, there are more people playing Undertale than there are playing Battleborn. If that comparison wasn’t enough, Overwatch, the game’s “main competitor” has more than 10 million players that bought the game worldwide, and has overthrown League of Legends in Korean PC-bangs as the most popular game.
However, the problem isn’t the game itself. No, contrary to that, the game offers an amazing package consisting of a well-written campaign (as expected from the creators of Borderlands) and a great multiplayer experience. The game’s cast of characters is extremely varied and all around balanced. Additionally, every review on Steam, even if it is negative, praises the great content offered by Gearbox.
So why did it fail then? If you’ve been asking yourself this, then perhaps you haven’t seen how Gearbox managed this game before and after its release. Their first capital mistake was marketing the game as a competitor to Blizzard’s Overwatch, when the only similarity between the two games is their class system. They should have known that no matter how inexperienced Blizzard was at making first person shooter games, there is no way to beat them in the marketing and sales department. While Battleborn offered a quirky presentation and some gameplay in its videos leading up to the launch, Blizzard had a series of their well-known, high-quality animated shorts, a long-running closed beta and a huge open beta. To top it all off, Blizzard ended the series of shorts by selling cinema tickets sponsored by Coca-Cola for people to watch their trailers in the cinemas, and of course, people paid for those tickets.
Blizzard also got Gearbox beat in the price department. While Battleborn has $60 and $75 versions with a Season Pass offered for $20, Blizzard offered $40 and $60 versions (along with a collector’s edition for $130), with the promise that all upcoming maps and heroes will be free to owners of all versions. As a final gut punch to Gearbox, Blizzard released their open beta days after Battleborn was released, completely stealing the show.
If all that wasn’t enough, Gearbox completely failed to sustain the game after its release. Not only have they put the game on sale for $35 less than a month after the game’s release, but it seems that, in desperation, they have decided to release a premium currency shop in which players can purchase skins with real money. Of course, this decision did not sit well at all with the few players Battleborn still has, but Gearbox ignored the complaints.
All in all, the game serves as a reminder on how not to manage your game. If Evolve wasn’t enough, Battleborn is the prime example of marketing done wrong.