Gearbox’s hero shooter Battleborn is set to die in early 2021. Launching just a few weeks before Blizzard’s similar but superior Overwatch, Battleborn struggled to find enough players to justify keeping the servers on throughout its three-year lifespan.
Developer Gearbox is best known for its influential first-person shooter series Borderlands, but failed to translate that success into the multiplayer arena. Reviews around the game’s release leaned more positive than negative, but that wasn’t enough to keep it afloat amidst massive competition. Gearbox and publisher 2K tried to keep the game alive by taking it free-to-play in 2017, but even that failed to save it.
Battleborn’s death was announced by 2K Games along with information about the shutdown process in a blog post. According to the publisher, it’s moving on to “focus our efforts and resources on other projects.” First, the game’s virtual currency will be removed from its microtransaction store after February 24, 2020. Players will still be able to earn and spend the currency in-game from then until January 2021, when the game’s servers will be shut down. Unlike 2K’s Evolve, which also had its servers shut down last year but remained playable thanks to peer-to-peer matchmaking, Battleborn will be completely unplayable once its servers go offline. Not even the game’s single-player campaign will be accessible at that point.
[1/3] Today we have begun the process of gradually sunsetting Battleborn. Starting February 24, 2020, you will no longer be able to purchase virtual currency for use in the game.— Battleborn (@Battleborn) November 25, 2019
The announcement of Battleborn’s shutdown comes less than a month after Blizzard announced the next phase for Overwatch, which overshadowed Battleborn’s launch in 2016. Announced at BlizzCon 2019, Overwatch 2 will bring dedicated single-player missions to the game along with new multiplayer modes and heroes. While it’s not going fully free-to-play, most of the new content introduced in Overwatch 2 will be playable by owners of the original game for new, excluding the new single-player mode.
The hero shooter genre never really took off in the same way that battle royales did, and that may be at least partially because of Overwatch’s dominance. Battleborn’s shutdown can’t be pinned solely on Overwatch taking its potential audience, though. Multiplayer games across the board have more competition than ever before as the market has become flooded with competition. Even developers like BioWare have been struggling, with the news that it's planning a complete overhaul of Anthem to save the sinking game leaking recently. With the multiplayer scene as crowded as it is and the next console generation on the horizon, it’s hard to see 2K Games and Gearbox pulling the plug on Battleborn to focus their efforts elsewhere as anything but a smart move.
Source: 2K Games