Gearbox Markets Battleborn as Overwatch, Then Gives Up On It Entirely
Did you hear about a team-based multiplayer game this year, where everyone plays as one of a cast of colorful, imaginative characters? Yes?
Was that game called Battleborn? Probably not.
Gearbox decided to jump into the muddy waters of the “hero brawler” genre with Battleborn, which is a multiplayer-focused game where you can choose either to take on an opposing team, MOBA style, in an on-the-ground contest of positioning and timing, or work together in a series of co-op missions that operate a bit like the raids in World of Warcraft or Destiny.The problem was that nobody knew what the hell Battleborn was about, given the character-centric marketing that preceded the game’s launch. We could see that it was a shooter, and that it had characters, but there was nothing about the promotional images or videos that distinguished it from what would be its immediate downfall: Blizzard’s Overwatch, which came out less than three weeks later and was preceded by a hugely popular open beta.
None of this should have caught Gearbox flat-footed, but they did absolutely nothing when it turned out they’d be releasing Battleborn against the Next Big Blizzard Thing. In fact, they basically quit promoting Battleborn altogether in the face of Blizzard’s Overwatch marketing blitz. Players quickly realized that this was a death knell for a game that relied entirely on the size of its player community.
After the fact, Gearbox has offered a couple ruinously steep sales, giving the premium title away for as little as $15, but it was too late: Overwatch had eaten their lunch and it’s been almost impossible to find a Battleborn match (especially on PC) since a month after its launch. It’s a tragedy for a game that, unlike Gearbox’s legendarily awful Aliens: Colonial Marines, is a genuinely solid title.