Boss Key: LawBreakers Moved On From F2P So It Wouldn't "Disjoint Our Users" Or "Force Them Into DLC"
LawBreakers still isn't going to be free-to-play, and Boss Key Productions still explains its reasons in interviews every now and then. And the reasons given, while understandable in the broader sense, still seem puzzling when you find out exactly what was considered.
Speaking to MCV, Lead Designer Dan Nanni talked about the early days of LawBreakers' design and how the core gameplay loop was negatively affected by the need to inject free-to-play mechanics into the game. He wouldn't be the first or last designer to notice that sort of thing, but, as with Boss Key President Cliff Bleszinski's statements about energy systems from earlier this year, it seems that the developer was looking at the wrong kind of F2P implementation:
"There can’t be a pay-to-win mechanic, there can’t be a grind mechanic, people have to be able to access the same exact content at the exact same time. After giving it a good amount of thought, we realised it probably made more sense to give it a premium price. That way, we don’t disjoint our users, we don’t force them into DLC purchases where some people have maps and others don’t. No, you pay one price to entry, get maps and game modes at the same time. Everyone is always playing at an even field."
"Splitting your player base" by making some modes or maps available to paid players and some not is virtually unheard of in the realm of competitive PvP games -- which is why none of the successful games do it. And yet they succeed. The notion that this would be a valid way to generate revenue from a F2P game seems to stem from a single-player or "online competitive" (like, say, Gears of War) rather than "MMO-style" game mentality, which might be the mindset of the majority of Boss Key's personnel.
I'm not against LawBreakers being pay-to-play; Overwatch is, and is doing quite well, though the Blizzard marketing machine and overall footprint certainly helps. If it doesn't work for LawBreakers, though, Boss Key will need to start over, and maybe bring on someone who actually has experience developing a solid F2P title. It increasingly looks like they don't have that kind of knowledge in-house.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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