I kind of feel bad for Battleborn. Did it have great characters, a swell art style and some ace voice acting in a compelling new universe? Yes, yes it did. It’s just a pity that the game itself that was needed to carry all of those elements was kind of a dud. To make matters worse, Battleborn launched right next to Blizzard’s Overwatch, with both games being somewhat unfairly compared to one another in the build-up.
And while Take-Two Interactive and develper Gearbox Software aren’t exactly ready to divulge any sales details regarding Battleborn, it clearly doesn’t benefit from the same massive community that Overwatch does. “You know, Activision’s going to outspend us every day of the week,” Gearboss Randy Pitchford said to Glixel in an interview discussing the post-mortem of Battleborn.
They’re just going to brute force it. We can’t overcome that. There’s nothing we can do to beat the brute force part of the fight.’ So we took the attitude of, ‘Look, it’s not a fight, man. Let’s just focus on our goals and make the game that’s fun and the game we want to make and trust it’ll work.
The only thing that I think kind of hurts is that it’s impossible to avoid the comparison.People that have spent a lot of time with both games might argue how different they actually are, but from a surface level, they look like they’re really going after the same angle, and in many respects they are. There’s just no avoiding that.
And that’s fair. Overwatch and Battleborn are completely different products. One is a fun team-based romp with diverse characters, the other is a pseudo-MOBA that doubles as a digital prescription for Somnil sleeping tablets. Jokes aside, I feel for Gearbox. Battleborn may not have been a winner in 2016’s stellar line-up of chart-topping games, but it was still a game built with passion. Passion that should have possibly had a more singular direction. “Meanwhile, Blizzard, holy sh**. Those guys really proved it, right? They’re on a plane that we all aspire to,” Pitchford said.
Frankly, I think what helped them is they were a little more disciplined than we were, so they had a more narrow focus. They really just kind of honed in on the kind of iteration of [Team Fortress 2] and that allowed their polish and quality to just go through the roof. Whereas we were tackling so many different fronts, with campaign play and competitive play, and really inventing a lot there.
And that makes for some fascinating insight into the development process of games of this ilk. Still, all is not lost. People are bound to go mental when Borderlands 3 is finally and properly shown off, right?