To get things out of the way, while Battleborn may not have been the biggest hit that Gearbox Software and 2K Games released, I do give them credit for developing something fresh. Borderlands was once such a game, exploring new territories by blending genres. With Battleborn, Gearbox Software hoped to do the same, however, the game got overshadowed by another colossus and got stuck with a bad stigma that it couldn’t shake off. As the anticipation level for a sequel to Borderlands is through the roof at the moment, I personally am also looking forward to a sequel to Battleborn. However, what would a follow up look like?
What does the next Battleborn game look like?
Personally, I can see Gearbox go into multiple directions with the next installment of Battleborn.
- Upgrade the current foundation, iterate from the lessons learned, add new stuff and bring it to the next level.
- Embrace the story mode and make it a “reskin” of Borderlands, as Battleborn has a great universe with deep lore.
- Embrace the multiplayer mode and go free to play.
The seed that sparked Battleborn is that a competitive game is seamlessly layered on top of a story campaign. Therefore it wouldn’t surprise me when Gearbox keeps this setup, however, the delivery of the game would be “backwards” to how Battleborn initially launched.
Battleborn 2 free from the start?
For the sake of this article, what if Battleborn 2 initially only focused on the multiplayer aspect of the game and released it as a free to play title. Launching as a F2P game gives everyone instant access to the game. The messaging would already be better compared to the Free Trial that current game has. As for monetization, you would have cosmetics as their “main” revenue source. You want to strike a good balance between unlocking stuff by playing the game and having premium items. Gearbox can also add story missions as optional downloadable content and even include a few premium items with it.
How to go to market?
Now that we have a vision of how a next Battleborn game could shape up, we need to look at how it should penetrate the market. This is where the release of Apex Legends kicks in. Respawn Entertainment who is the developer behind that game knew they were working with EA Games. And even if you have been lying under a rock for 2 years, you would know that they have a bad reputation regarding in-game monetization. The devs know they are making a F2P game with microtransactions. So instead of marketing the game beforehand with the chance of monetization rumors they skipped the whole PR build up and let the game speak for itself.
I know Nintendo has released a few smaller titles without any marketing beforehand. They mention it during a Nintendo Direct and said it’s available now. For a triple-A game to do this is very risky, so you need a lot of confidence in your product (or a lot of money). You see that the leadup time on games is getting shorter. Where in the early days a game would be teased years ahead of time, we now live in an instant gratification society. We got video on demand and we can binge watch complete series when we want. No need to flirt with a cutie as you can simply swipe right and you got a date.
So should Gearbox and 2K just drop Battleborn 2 as a surprise and let people judge the game as it is instead of accumulating negative perception? Battleborn has a bad stigma, for a long time, it was the game to call out as a complete failure. Online people even measured other games on their misfortune by comparing it to Battleborn. Why go through that process when you can have a project that scales with its player base? If EA would have promoted a Free to Play game with a business model that is based around microtransactions gamers would shred it to pieces.
Let me know what you think about this in the comments below or on social media.