Rumor: Battleborn might be going free-to-play [UPDATE]

According to an anonymous source, Gearbox wanted to position its MOBA/shooter hybrid as a F2P product out of the gate.


Update: 7:18pm Pacific

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford sent out tweets denying Kotaku's original report. "I was just told about a reckless story about Battleborn going F2P that is false. There are no plans to convert Battleborn free to play," read his first tweet.

The semantics of his second tweet indicate that afree model for Battleborn could be in the works, albeit not specifically F2P. "We have some unannounced plans to do a trial version of the game that would be free and from which retail can be purchased along with DLC."

Kotaku reached out to Pitchford over Twitter and asked for clarification. "I don't think timed demo is right," Pitchford responded. "I think we need to sort our plans FIRST and then announce them. Call in a few months."

To play devil's advocate, it's worth noting that most companies in Gearbox's position wouldn't come right out and confirm the report. Such decisions aren't made overnight; assuming the report pans out, Gearbox would have a time and place picked out to make any announcement related to Battleborn's pricing.

Original Story Follows

According to a source speaking with Kotaku, Gearbox's Battleborn will switch from a premium model to free-to-play within a few months.

This news comes following a significant price drop from $60 to $20 less than three months following the game's tepid release in May.

Publisher Take-Two's has been disappointed with Battleborn's performance thus far. "While the game launched to solid reviews, its performance in the market has been below our expectations," said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick during an investment call back in August. "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."

Many speculated that Take-Two eyed the successful shift of squad-based shooter Evolve from premium to F2P product as a model to follow. Evolve's active players plummeted in the months following its launch, hitting a nadir of hundreds of concurrent players. After its publisher pivoted to free-to-play, its active players spiked up into ranges of around 25,000.

Kotaku's source said Take-Two hopes repositioning Battleborn bears as much fruit. In fact, Gearbox intended for its game to release for free right out of the gate, but Take-Two steered it toward a full-on AAA price point.

Gearbox and Take-Two will likely offer rewards to early adopters who paid full price for Battleborn, though no such plans have been announced. In the coming months, the developer plans to release more heroes for the game.

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 and @davidlcraddock.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 29, 2016 1:36 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Report: Battleborn going free-to-play soon

    • reply
      September 29, 2016 1:43 PM

      In support of Chatty and Battleborn at the same time I am posting here.

      Yay! About time. I want to play this game with more people.

    • reply
      September 29, 2016 1:45 PM

      Also DozIR_, I hope this will sooth your anger.

      Gearbox and Take-Two will likely offer rewards to early adopters who paid full price for Battleborn, though no such plans have been announced. In the coming months, the developer plans to release more heroes for the game.

      • reply
        September 29, 2016 2:17 PM


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          September 29, 2016 2:22 PM

          That hasn't changed. You have to "buy" them for 45k if you don't have the season pass. If you do have the season pass you can apply a "key" to unlock them. The key is refunded to you to be used on another character if you ever unlock them in another fashion (this makes sense with the original characters who unlock by leveling or other such things).

          It is somewhat needlessly complex, but it shows how they are more ready for F2P already without harming the base owners. You just have to use your keys to get your benefits you already paid for.

          45k isn't too bad for unlocking either, but it does set you back in terms of items if you are going to do it purely in PvP. As with the leveling and unlocks, grinding out some PvE levels (especially on higher difficulty) is the best way to get levels and in-game money quickly.

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      September 29, 2016 3:02 PM


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      September 29, 2016 3:33 PM

      Got it in the humble bundle. Put in maybe almost 20 hours. Really enjoyed it.
      Seemed to take forever to unlock new characters without paying, and the playerbase was so small it just took too long to find games sometimes.

    • reply
      September 29, 2016 3:47 PM

      here's hoping for some sort of bonus for buyers.

      and hoping for a bigger playerbase so the game will get played and hopefully fixed

    • reply
      September 29, 2016 5:45 PM

      Randy Pitchford shoots the rumor down. Says there's talk of a free trial type thing, nothing of free-to-play.

      • reply
        September 29, 2016 6:21 PM

        Um, this sounds like F2P?

        • reply
          September 29, 2016 6:42 PM


        • reply
          September 29, 2016 6:45 PM

          Not if the trial is timed?

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          September 29, 2016 7:01 PM

          Eh, you get into semantics at some point but most people would say F2P would be being able to access pretty much the entire game but have access to cosmetic upgrades or additional thingamabobs for money. This sounds like having access to a subset of the game and being able to buy the rest later.

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            September 29, 2016 7:08 PM

            If that's the case then that's cool, its a lot of word salad to say "demo"

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          September 29, 2016 7:43 PM

          No, that sounds like a demo to me. "trial version...from which retail can be purchased." It's pretty clear to me.

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            September 30, 2016 5:50 AM

            Yeah, I would bet they do a limited number of heroes and one or two PvE missions for the free aspect. It isn't really a demo because that is all you need to be able to play with people with full versions to some degree. But, it sounds like you will still need to buy the full version to access the majority of the game content.

            Not sure that will work unless they really have a good stable of heroes.

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      September 29, 2016 5:50 PM

      Oh thank god. Maybe I can finally play a match not against seasoned veterans.

    • reply
      September 29, 2016 6:43 PM

      Their launch timing really burned them :(

    • reply
      September 29, 2016 7:30 PM

      Story updated to reflect comments by Randy Pitchford.

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        September 29, 2016 7:32 PM

        Randy Pitchford: f2p rumors are false! but we will totally be making a free version that will then allow people to pay money for upgrades

        Pitchford is a clown

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          September 29, 2016 7:37 PM

          While I agree with your last sentence, when I read trial I assume timed trial. Could be interpreting that wrong.

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            September 29, 2016 7:41 PM

            I bet it'll be something like 4 heroes or some level cap rather than a time limited trial

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              September 29, 2016 8:05 PM

              Pitchfork should have used the word demo , if that's the case.

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        September 29, 2016 7:39 PM

        I know I should not be surprised he made a probably kneejerk reply rather than consulting with his comms team but I am. :(

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        September 30, 2016 1:29 AM


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          September 30, 2016 5:26 PM

          i laughed at the joke :/ felt pretty cringey when he was going through it though, i guess because i was assuming he was gonna be / get scummy. i didnt stay for the song though

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      September 30, 2016 3:47 AM

      I had some fun with this. Definitely not enough to justify the price I paid, especially as it has plummeted since. It just has such a huge identify crisis - no stand-out characters and a crazy mash of genres that's impossible to convey easily.

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        September 30, 2016 5:48 AM

        Sounds like you didn't spend much time with it. I don’t mean that in some elitist way, the game is just...dense. I probably went 1 in 4 in my first 50 games or so because the learning curve is steep.

        The game does a pretty bad job explaining to you that there is lore to unlock for every character and that they have interesting backstories. The lore is unlocked by doing different challenges like getting kills or damage with certain abilities. Unlock all 5 and you get a fairly neat backstory with some audio bits for each character as well as a legendary item that augments that character specifically.

        Plus, Different combinations of the characters in matches will result in different voice cues about their backgrounds.

        Orendi is probably one of my favorites when you go into her abilities and lore. She is one of the default you start with.

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          September 30, 2016 4:16 PM

          I'm having a blast with this, especially couch coop for online, the interface leaves something to be desired for sure.

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      September 30, 2016 10:25 AM

      Still trying to sell the overly complex bloatware I see. I think its time for pitchford to retire.

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