It was a strange old day when Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski – known in the industry as CliffyB – announced his latest project. His new studio, Boss Key Productions, had teamed up with free-to-play specialist to bring a new came to market and very little was known about it, other than it’s in-house codename: Project BlueStreak. Then over a three-day reveal-fest, as has become commonplace in the industry for maximum hype, we gleaned more information about the project.
Not everything went to plan though, and announcement day was overshadowed – and quite rightly so – by yet another tragic shooting in the US, drawing attention away from Project BlueStreak’s carefully crafted hype bubble. Also, some rather unhelpful arseholes – that would be us, incidentally – worked out the real name of CliffyB’s new game prior to the announcement: LawBreakers.
LawBreakers was to be a free-to-play class-based multiplayer online shooter, in the mould of Team Fortress 2, but unfortunately for CliffyB and Boss Key Productions, everyone and their dog was also producing a class-based online shooter. Gearbox’s Battleborn, Blizzard’s Overwatch, even UbiSoft were getting in on the action with Rainbow Six: Siege – it was just a bit difficult for LawBreakers to stand out in a rapidly crowding marketplace, and in a world that’s turning against free-to-play models.
The problem is one of balance: that is a difficult balance which must be struck between making a fair and even game that everyone enjoys, and somehow making money for the developer and publisher when they’re not getting $60 from everyone up-front.
CliffyB took to the stage at GDC 2016 to announce that LawBreakers won’t be free-to-play after all:
“We didn’t really want to go down that well of buying energy or a lot of the sleazier techniques that feel like they’ve taken over a lot of free-to-play. A lot of core gamers still have this wincing reaction when you suggest that something’s free-to-play, because they feel like they’re going to get ripped off.”
There’s also an updated art style, which echoes the focus shift from a T-rated free-to-play affair to a more serious, mature shooter. The Boss Key Productions team also announced that LawBreakers – expected to launch some time this summer – will be a Steam exclusive, at least in the first instance, and the man himself had the following to say on the price:
“At the end of the day, there’s got to be a halfway point between completely free-to-play and sleazy, and $60, day one, disk-based.”
You would have to hope he’s right.