I wanted to address a few things in this post, because I think the poster is making a good faith effort to offer suggestions on ways to improve the game. I also think they are incorrect in a lot of ways, but we’ll get there.
Before I start, I’d like to say I own and play both Battleborn and Overwatch. I happen to like Battleborn better, but that’s neither here nor there.
##Battleborn vs Overwatch
1. The Law of Averages People underestimate how many games are released each week, people also tend to overestimate how many copies your “average” game sells. From what we can suss out, Battleborn posted pretty average numbers. Average isn’t “bad” it’s just average. Most things are average by necessity. On the flip side, Overwatch posted huge numbers, which isn’t surprising to folks like me because…
2. Large versus Medium Studios Asking Battleborn to do as well as Overwatch is like asking It Follows (a wonderful indie horror film by David Robert Mitchell) to do as well as Civil War. Blizzard is a massive studio with extremely strong marketing and distribution channels. Strong enough to not only build up word of mouth more effectively, but also to “market” (a word we abuse around here too often) in a way that GBX could only dream of.
As a single example, Overwatch’s “BETA” ran for months on the PC. So long, in fact, that before the Open BETA they had a huge community of streamers and semi-professional gamers in their stable. This is an expensive and difficult thing to do. Between the CTT and Open BETA, Battleborn had something like two weeks of BETA time.
Is it any wonder than Battleborn and GBX sold differently on the PC?
3. Bad Math. People are constantly throwing around the Steam charts as a way of saying the game is “dying.” I will be the first to admit that the game is having trouble on the PC. PC gamers are a different breed, and I suspect they could have made some different choices. That being said, please remember that the Steam chart only tells us the current, concurrent player counts (players playing at any given moment). It says nothing about the total number of players.
Blizzard’s 10 Million is “active, registered accounts,” cannot be fairly compared to the Steam chart data. While I am certain a lot more people play Overwatch than Battleborn, especially on the PC, it’s a bit disingenuous to use these numbers as proof. Especially since as a PS4 player, I would contend that the game did a whole lot better over here than it’s doing on the PC.
Some quick math. Lets say 1000 people are playing at any given time (according to the Steam Chart). Lets assume that they play for an hour. That means in order to maintain 1000 people throughout a 24 hour period, there needs to be at least 24,000 people playing in total.
4. Identity Crisis. The core issue I think Battleborn suffers under is an identity crisis. FPS players find it a bit too slow, MOBA players find it difficult to pick up the faster pace of the combat, and FPS/RPG players (the sorts who like Borderlands 2) want a bit more content. It’s hard to put a finger on what Battleborn is, and GBX could have done a better job describing it to people.
The result is that Battleborn has a very high skill curve, and “picking it up” is difficult. It doesn’t play like anything else gamers are used to, so some people mistake their difficulty in starting out for “bad design.”
While GBX has made a ton of design decisions that need refining (not here to argue that), in general they made an interesting, fun, unique game that just happens to also be very difficult to start out in. I think the faster they fix that problem, the easier it will be to retain players.
Overwatch, on the other hand, plays exactly like TF2 and anyone who has ever picked up an FPS will find playing Overwatch to be second nature. Overwatch, with it’s extremely short TTK (time to kill) also feels more rewarding, especially because they have Eliminations (tagging the target) rather than kills (landing the finishing blow). I always feel like a special snowflake when I play Overwatch, because scoring ensures that almost everyone on the team does.
Blizzard will always sell more games than a competing medium-sized studio. They have a massive marketing and PR machine, a huge installed base, better infrastructure, and generally more resources than most studios in existence today.
Battleborn sold an average number of copies. Averages aren’t bad, they’re average.
Blizzards concurrent play numbers were never released. We don’t know how many people play Overwatch at any given second, it’s certainly not 10 million, though it is higher than Battleborn probably by an order of magnitude.
There is nothing that GBX could have done (within the constraints of their resources) to post Overwatch numbers. Anyone looking at this realistically knew from the start that there was never a fight. They could have gotten lucky, but it’s never safe to count on luck.
Battleborn is hard to play, which turns some people off, but also makes it a unique experience. Many of us who own both, like Battleborn more because it requires more of us.
The game isn’t dying. It’s bleeding out on PC, but Consoles are going strong.
Grinding characters might have turned off a few people, but those people would have hated the rest of the experience anyway. If that sort of progression isn’t your cup of tea, nothing is going to change that. That being said, there are players who love the grind, many of them. Korean Grinder MMOs are proof of this. Why take away progression for the sake of players who probably wouldn’t like the rest of the game?
They are planning on adding modes which are shorter in the very near future.
Sure, why not.
I strongly disagree with this. I also disagree with the premise that there are a huge number of players asking for the ability to change characters. Just because a system works for Overwatch, doesn’t mean adding that system to Battleborn will suddenly cause players to flock to it. The proof of this is the 10,000 COD clones released every year that fail miserably.
You don’t draw more players by fundamentally changing gameplay. That’s a good way to alienate your base.
You draw more players by focusing your efforts on supporting the niche of gamer that your game attracts.
It’s there that I think GBX needs to do some work.
They’re having a hard time identifying their niche, and until they do, it will be difficult for them to know how to support that niche.
Thanks for the suggestions.