I know, it’s weird to bring up EOL for a game that hasn’t even launched, but hopefully it’s early enough.
After just 1 weekend of Open Beta I already know this is a game that I’ll want to play for years to come. And I mean years.
Yes, I’m the kind of gamer that will still boot up Unreal Tournament GOTY, StarCraft, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, and other oldies but goodies. Which isn’t a problem with those games, because they’re offline only… (Except for NWN multiplayer… sort of… it’s weird, you might know what I mean, it’s weird… anyway…)
Which is why I’m bringing up EOL now. See, there are other online only games that I still can (barely) boot up, and ones that are gone forever. I still play Dawn of War II: Retribution’s Last Stand Mode regularly for instance (best horde mode evar!), though it’ll never be as good as it was. And as badly as DoW II’s online play was affected, the 1st DoW suffered more. In fact, both only continue to limp along by the grace of Sega and Steam, benefactors that saved these games, but not others.
I’ve lost City of Heroes and Age of Empires Online entirely, and Neverwinter Nights Online play was all but absolutely crippled, all because they had online only, or portions of online only, play that relied on servers that were eventually shutdown. And those are just a few examples.
Why have I lost those games? Because they were online only, or so heavily relied on their servers just being there, like forever, that when the eventual happened, they just died. And as you may have noticed, Battleborn is also an online only game. Like, to play Single Player, you have to be online, type of online only. Really online only, is what I’m saying.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love all the great stuff I get with online connected games. Stat tracking, portable and persistent game state, easier multiplayer play, and I actually like knowing that the guys that worked so hard to bring me something so awesome, can feel somewhat secure that they’re getting paid for that awesome thing I enjoy, and so that they can make moar awesome things! Win-Win! But servers are not the pyramids, giant stone edifices meant to last millenia. They have short lives, usually 5 years, sometimes 7, a few have even been around longer than a decade, but eventually they go away.
Hence this topic now. Now that we’re on the eve of this release I’d like to ask Gearbox to learn from those other companies, the ones that built great games that just happened to always expect servers to be around. Companies that then poofed away before they could properly transition their games in to the hands of their fans.
My request is a humble but difficult one, to be sure: Please have a plan in place for your fans, in case of bankruptcy, in case of hostile takeover, in case of years passing and costs no longer being effective as they were. Have a plan to leave the legacy of this game in the hands of your fans, instead of letting it blow in to internet dust on the internet wind, because you didn’t have a plan, or even 12% of one.
Learn from the mistakes of others.
When the time is right and Battleborn no longer needs to be online only, because it no longer serves the purpose of your business to host it, have a plan to pass it on to the community. Be that in the form of server software that you can open source and / or freeware so the community can host it, or a patch to take it to offline / LAN code so that fans can still play it without servers.
But please have a plan.
So we can boot this (still awesome then) game up 10 years from now and shoot ISIC in the face (or leg, I guess legs?, anyway…) one more time, for good 'ol time’s sake.