NOTE: The game itself was not crappy. This instead focuses on what caused it to flop.
Battleborn was an online first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game was released worldwide on May 3, 2016.
Servers for Battleborn had been shut down on January 31st, 2021, rendering the game permanently unplayable.
Why It Flopped
- Oversaturation: The game was unoriginal and attempted to be another generic shooter instead of trying something new, and when Overwatch (A new IP from Blizzard Entertainment) came around Battleborn was quickly killed off due to the latter game having more hype and a easily recognizable developer behind it. The game also tried to cash in on the MOBA trend by shoehorning elements from that genre.
- In an attempt to attract players, Gearbox made the game free-to-play a year later. However, this didn't solve anything since the number of players was still extremely low and multiplayer was still barren, and the fact that the story mode was locked behind a $30 paywall didn't help matters. Also, any potential player count that could have been obtained was stolen by Paladins, another free-to-play shooter game that launched in September 2016, months before Battleborn became free-to-play.
- Lots of microtransactions, even though the game was a paid title.
- Terrible release date: It came out just two weeks before Overwatch's release, and thus, Gearbox fell right under the boot of Blizzard, as it was unable to get any attention because most potential players often chose to play Overwatch over it instead, and some people even called it a rip-off of that game, hurting a lot of Battleborn's reputation.
- While the graphics were not terrible, the art style was unoriginal, since it was just the one for Borderlands.
- Only five game modes with only three at launch, meaning that you would have to repeatedly play the same five/three multiplayer modes which gets repetitive very quickly.
- There also was an added game mode that was just a reskin of Meltdown but with 3v3 teams, which is really lazy.
- Poor marketing: The marketing tried to appeal to "dudebros" by using words like "badass" to get them and the other people to buy the game. There was also a porn-themed Reddit forum created by Randy Pitchford to promote the game as well.
- Uninteresting story mode, which you must pay $30 for despite the online modes being completely barren, which is unacceptable considering the fact that it doesn't have any form of offline gameplay.
- Simplistic AI.
- You had to wait 100+ seconds just for everyone to choose a character, which was really unnecessary and only makes waiting for a match to start more frustrating than helpful.
- Most of the dialogue was cringeworthy, especially the one from the tutorial narrator that tried to be hip and cool but failed. The game, once again, tried to appeal to "dudebros" with words such as "badass" being said constantly for no reason.
- Speaking of attempts to be cool, one of the characters held their pistol like a gangster!
- The jokes and humor were rather inferior compared to the first two Borderlands titles that came off as really unfunny and forced.
- No Team Deathmatch mode, despite it being what should've been an obvious addition to a shooting game and also one of the most accessible modes in shooters for new players.
- The gameplay systems proved to be way too complex for newer players, and would have to play for hundreds of hours just to get powerful load-outs.
- The characters were horribly unbalanced; some were too weak, while others were overpowered.
- The game was so flashy that the screen was extremely busy. The HUD was even more distracting than the medals that flash when you do something in Call of Duty!
- The graphics were still good, even though the style has been used before.
- The idea of MOBA and FPS together was an interesting idea.
- It could've been fun for some people.
- A nicely done anime-style intro for the story mode.
- Some of the character concepts were interesting gameplay-wise.
Battleborn was a massive failure for both Gearbox and Take-Two Interactive and became infamous for its poor marketing and fast downfall thanks to other class-based shooters such as Overwatch and Paladins, as well as being released with other games such as Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and Doom (2016) being released around the same month. It was considered one of the biggest flops in modern gaming, up until LawBreakers suffered an even bigger failure.
Battleborn, LawBreakers, and Crucible are all now seen as prime examples of how over-saturation can kill a genre; in this case, the hero shooter.