Gearbox has stopped working on content updates for Battleborn, 16 months after it first launched to tepid reviews and a rapidly declining player-base.
Creative director Randy Varnell signalled the end of Battleborn's ongoing development in a statement published on the Gearbox forums. The studio stopped working on new content this week, he said, meaning that the game's Fall Update will be its last.
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Battleborn's servers will remain live "for the foreseeable future," so those who bought the game will still be able to play. Exactly how many people are playing isn't clear, though; concurrent user figures aren't available for Battleborn's console versions, but on Steam the Free Trial had a peak of 72 players in the last 30 days.
Gearbox introduced the Free Trial in June this year, making that the standard entry point for the experience and selling a "Full Game Upgrade" separately. It was an attempt to bring new players into the game, but its concurrent users on Steam spiked only briefly to 417 players in June, before quickly falling away.
Varnell has worked on Battleborn full-time since 2012, but he has contributed to the project for eight years. He will now move over to the new Borderlands game, which he referred to only as, "a highly anticipated project."
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"Although I'm sad my time on Battleborn is coming to a close, I'm happy to announce that I will play a significant role on this highly anticipated but unannounced game," he said. "And I'm sure you'll be hearing some from me again in the future regarding Gearbox games."
Earlier this month, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford told the audience at PAX West that 90% of the studio's workforce was focused on the new Borderlands. Well, according to Comicbook.com, Pitchford demurred from actually saying the word Borderlands, choosing instead to refer to, "the thing I think most of you guys want us to be working on."
It is also surely the game that publisher Take-Two Interactive would prefer Gearbox to be working on, because Battleborn can only be regarded as a commercial disappointment. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick made that much clear shortly after the game launched, and its fortunes have not improved since.
A key factor is Overwatch, a similar game in many respects, which launched a few weeks after Battleborn and went on to become one of the most successful new IPs this decade.