Gearbox's MOBA-inspired hero shooter Battleborn had a very rough start of its life cycle because of perceived similarities with Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch. While the two games are distinctly different (Overwatch is heavily inspired by Team Fortress 2 whereas Battleborn is more directly inspired by MOBAs) in many ways, it coming out around the same time as Blizzard's cartoony shooter didn't do Battleborn a ton of favors.
Knowing this, many people weren't surprised when Kotaku reported on a rumor that Battleborn will be going free to play soon, saying that this was confirmed by one of Kotaku's sources. This source said that Gearbox had always planned for Battleborn to go free-to-play but were ultimately stopped by publisher 2K, who preferred to release the game as a full-priced product. What makes this even easier to believe is that Evolve, another 2K-published game that initially tanked but managed to gain a bunch of new players once it switched to a free to play mode, was the inspiration for the supposed switch from buy-to-play to free-to-play. While Evolve's free to play was completely free for a while, they recently introduced microtransactions in the United States to monetize the game, showing that studios working with 2K have been working on the model some.
But all of this has been promptly denied by Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, who took to Twitter to respond to Kotaku's article.
This seems to poke a hole in the rumor that the game is going free-to-play, although the source Kotaku used wasn't very far off: Gearbox have an unannounced plan in the works to implement a trial version into the game which will be available for free for an unlimited time. Whether this is the full extent of the story remains to be seen since Pitchford tweeted that they "need to sort our plans FIRST" before announcing it officially.
Whatever the case may be, it seems like Gearbox is undertaking steps to inflate the player base in some way, shape or form and allowing players to try select parts of the game for themselves without an initial investment might be the thing Battleborn needs to flourish.
What do you think of this story? Do you think a free trial is the right course of action for Battleborn? Let us know in the comments!