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Whenever Cliff Bleszinski releases a new game it’s a big deal. With games like Unreal Tournament, Gears of War, and Infinity Blade under his belt, it’s no wonder he’s regarded as one of the most successful game designers in recent history.
Most recently he put together a studio by the name of Boss Key Productions, tasking a new team with crafting a AAA first-person shooter from scratch. It was a tall order, but one that had the money and talent necessary to be successful.
That first-person shooter has become known as LawBreakers, a title that inherits some of the most popular qualities of modern shooters and shakes them up in a competitive cocktail that has personality and style.
Up to now LawBreakers has had just about everything going for it: positive buzz at E3 2017, an affordable price point of $29.99, and cohesive gameplay mechanics. There’s every reason in the world to think that’ll make a big splash when it arrives in just over a month. Or does it?
Although LawBreakers has won over critics during pre-release, it is struggling to gain momentum with consumers leading up to launch. Its official subreddit is currently dominated by ominous posts about how the game isn’t very popular. It isn’t talked about often in media. Perhaps most importantly, it just performed below expectation during its beta period.
A beta just concluded for LawBreakers that lasted nearly a week. Chances are you didn’t hear about it for one reason or another, likely due to there being a lack of impactful marketing for the game. It had every intention of inviting tens of thousands of players to playtest the title leading up to launch, creating hype in the process. Yet, it went largely unnoticed, as indicated by data.
The beta managed to only draw in an average of 2,700 players at a time, capping at 7,500 on launch hour. This resulted in the game, at best, ranking as the 73rd most popular game on Steam during the period. Older games like Portal 2, Killing Floor 2, Borderlands 2, and even Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 performed better during the week, all without the draw of being something new and exciting.
The result is worrying when you consider how hard of a time most FPS releases during the past 18 months have fared; Overwatch has been a nasty competitor in the space, giving games like Battleborn a very tough time. Creating and releasing a competitive-focused FPS at this moment in time is a risky proposition.
This isn’t to say that LawBreakers is doomed. “If you build it they will come”, they say, and, in the opinion of the majority, Boss Key Productions has built something very enjoyable to play. It can turn things around if it plays its cards right, especially considering it has the luxury of releasing prior to the avalanche of titles this Fall season. But it won’t be easy, and things need to change sooner rather than later.
LawBreakers is scheduled for a debut on August 8th for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.