Battleborn tip-toes around free-to-play model

Gearbox Software’s 2016 flop is moving toward a free-to-play model – just don’t tell them that.

Although at their core the two games were very different, Gearbox’s Battleborn and Blizzard’s Overwatch launched close enough to each other last year that many gamers saw them as comparable products. Beating Overwatch to market by a few weeks, Battleborn received a decent amount of attention from gamers. Still, as soon as Overwatch hit shelves on May 24, 2016, Gearbox couldn’t compete and Battleborn was quickly forgotten only to maintain a small cult following.

13 months later, Gearbox is hoping to reignite a fanbase around Battleborn with the announcement that the game would be adopting a hybrid free-to-play model. In a press release today, Gearbox refrained from using the term “free-to-play” and instead called the marketing pivot a “Battleborn Free Trial” – but things aren’t as restricted as that might sound. As part of Battleborn Free Trial, the game will now give gamers complete, unlimited access to all of the game’s competitive multiplayer all without paying a dime. Battleborn Free Trial does have a catch though: Story Mode isn’t included and only six of the game’s 30 characters will be available to users at a time, rotating on a weekly basis. The Free Trial FAQ does say that individual characters can be purchased from the store using currency earned in-game or from real-world money microtransactions.

Battleborn Free Trial users who want more will have a myriad of purchase options available in the in-game marketplace. Those who buy the full version will get all 25 base characters, all Story Mode levels and permanent access to private matches. Upgrading to the full version of the game will also carry over all your stats and progress.

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If you already own Battleborn, Free Trial’s launch means new bonuses are coming your way. Anyone who’s played the game before today’s update will receive the Founder’s Bonus, which includes tons of free loot that you can read in full via the Free Trial FAQ.

Battleborn Free Trial is live now on Steam and Xbox One. PlayStation users in North America will have access to Free Trial starting today, but PlayStation Europe and PlayStation Asia users won’t gain access until June 13, 2017.

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