Take-Two isn't giving up on Battleborn despite performing 'below our expectations'

Comments made during Take-Two's recent earning calls were similar to statements concerning Evolve before its rebirth as a free-to-play game.

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Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick spoke candidly about Battleborn, Gearbox's FPS/MOBA hybrid that released in early May to lukewarm sales and mixed critical reception.

"While the game launched to solid reviews, its performance in the market has been below our expectations," Zelnick told investors (via Game Informer). "We think there remains an opportunity to grow the audience for this unique experience over time, and 2K will continue to drive engagement and recurrent consumer spending on the title through add-on content and virtual currency."

The opportunity he alludes to could very well take the form of a conversion from a premium product to a free-to-play title—the same metamorphosis that Evolve went, re-launching as Evolve: Stage 2 in early July.

That's only speculation, but the path seems clear. Evolve's player base shot up from 200 to over 20 million after 2K and Turtle Rock rebooted it. (Evolve Phase 2 has no monetary options at all right now, though there's plenty of room to add microtransactions like cosmetics, characters, and maps later on.)

Zelnick went so far as to liken Battleborn to Evolve—further evidence, perhaps, that Take-Two is eyeing a change. "So with regard to Battleborn, we're being very frank about where we are, because we're a transparent company. We're still delivering new content to Battleborn. Audiences love Battleborn. We still have virtual currency coming for Battleborn. We're not counting it out for a minute. We're just telling you where we're at now. And equally, we just launched Evolve Stage 2, which is another way to express the IP of Evolve. And we've had over 1 million people sign up to play Evolve Stage 2, and that's super exciting."

Something has to give for Battleborn, and soon. In less than three months, it went from a $60 retail product to one game among many packaged in a $15 Humble Bundle.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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