NOTE: The game itself was not crappy. This article focuses primarily on what caused it to flop so fast and so horribly.
LawBreakers was an online-multiplayer only first-person shooter developed by Boss Key Productions and published by Nexon.
The game was released on August 8, 2017 and was "written off" by its publisher in early 2018 due to the game flopping terribly and its servers were shut down in September 2018.
Why It Flopped
- Over-saturation: The game was released at a time when online first-person shooters were the most popular genre in gaming. LawBreakers had to compete with games like Overwatch, Call of Duty, Halo, Destiny, Gears of War, Paladins, Titanfall, Battleborn, Warframe among others, but it had close to nothing that made it standout from the crowd so most of its players abandoned the game very quickly in favor new games from already existing franchises that came later that year or returned to the other online games they were already playing.
- The game was compared to Overwatch the most, which while not entirely true, did cause many potential players to ignore the game and stick with Overwatch because it already has a much larger install base and support from Blizzard.
- Bad release date, just a month before Destiny 2, which at the time was highly anticipated and took a lot of hype away from LawBreakers.
- There wasn't any single player content whatsoever, the entire game was just the online multiplayer mode which got repetitive quickly due to having very few game modes and maps.
- On the topic of game modes, the game didn't even have Team Deathmatch at launch, which is the most popular and accesible game mode in shooters for the average player. By the time Team Deathmatch was added the game was already barren.
- Team Deathmatch was only available on a blatantly unfinished and rushed map that consisted mostly of nothing but untextured structures.
- Most of the modes the game had were variations of "Capture the Flag", in which the player must pickup a key item and take it to the team's base. This made some of those modes redundant because they were too similar.
- Being an online-multiplayer only game, it was entirely reliant on having a large player base to stay alive, but due to player numbers always being very low less people were inclined to give it a try which resulted in even less player numbers.
- Extremely weak marketing, many people didn't know or hear about this game until after it was declared dead, and even then people still didn't know much about the game. What little marketing the game had was terrible with slogans like "Are you skilled AF?!"
- Cliff Bleszinski, the lead developer who has a reputation for acting like a douche to many people, often said very questionable things during interviews like declaring the game "a billion dollar franchise" before it even came out, calling the game "The Dark Souls of First Person Shooters", stating that the game wouldn't be ported to Xbox One because Xbox players "are Salty fanboys" and because he believes that the Xbox brand sucks (ironic given that his most successful games were the Gears of War games on the Xbox 360), and claiming that all PC players pirate their games. Cliff's arrogant comments discouraged many people who could've been a possible audience from wanting to support his new game.
- Overpriced, costing $29.99 despite having very little content, this was a change from a free to play model by the way.
- Bleszinski often bragged about that price tag by exclaiming "29.99! None of that $60 Multiplayer-only Bullshit!".
- Useless tutorials that showed very little mechanics and only taught how characters worked with short videos. Without proper tutorials or a single player mode to practice on, newcomers had a very hard time jumping into the game without getting killed constantly by more experienced players and had no means to practice which often caused them to give up on the game.
- The game's marketing actively alienated "causal" players in favor of "hardcore players". However that "hardcore" audience was too small to keep a game alive and due to the game alienating newcomers and "casual" audiences, most players abandoned the game quickly.
- There was evidence that Boss Key Productions was bribing YouTubers to praise the game which backfired
- Contrary to Cliff Bleszinski's claims that the game would have "a unique art style that would stand out from Overwatch", the game had a very bland and uninspired artstyle that followed the typical futuristic sci-fi shooter theme that has already been done to death. Games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare have shown that gamers are sick of this theme.
- The player characters had very generic designs, all of them being humans wearing futuristic battle armors and two robots. Unlike Overwatch, none of them had any real personality or backstory outside of some dudebro quotes.
- For example one of the characters would said "Hashtag You're Dead, Bro" after a kill.
- The characters almost never shut up during gameplay.
- The game used loot boxes for unlockables.
- The game's more unique mechanics were either underutilized or poorly implemented:
- The "Zero G areas" were restricted to very small sections within the maps and all they did was make your jumps longer.
- Shooting backwards was nearly useless because you couldn't properly aim at the opponent chasing you. Its only utility was to gain momentum in Zero G.
- Characters had proper health bars without health regeneration, instead they relied on health pickups and healing stations. However health regeneration was added in an attempt to bring more players while still keeping the health pickups. This update not only failed to increase the player base, it also angered the already small player base.
- When the game lost most of its player base, the die hard fans kept begging Cliff Bleszinski to make the game free to play in order to attract more players, to which he refused. The game was only made free-to-play after Boss Key was shutdown, and by then the servers were already announced to be due to shutting down so going free-to-play did nothing.
LawBreakers received relatively positive reviews, however interest in the game was very minimal, with only around 7500 players participating in the open Betas. At launch the game had a very small player base of only about 3000 concurrent players at its peak, which was significantly smaller than the Betas. The small amount of players and all the problems above caused fewer and fewer people to try the game and the active players to drop at a very fast rate. Less than three months after launch, the player base was reduced to 10 concurrent players.
The game sold terribly and was declared dead by its publisher less than 6 months after launch due to the unsustainable small player base that dried out too quickly. Publisher Nexon kept defending the game and its failure by once saying that the game is doing much better on PS4 but no evidence was ever given to back up that claim. Nexon later tried to blame the failure of LawBreakers on the success of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. This was ridiculed by most people because PUBG wasn't even officially released at the time.
On April 2018, Boss Key Productions announced that they'd be "moving on" from the game and would no longer develop more content for it. One month later, Boss Key closed down, eliminating any chance for LawBreakers to be revived. Shortly after that Nexon announced that they would shut down the servers, but the game was made free-to-play until then. Player count still remained low despite the game being made free-to-play.
In 14th September 2018, servers for LawBreakers officially shut down and it was removed from digital stores.