Cover Image

Source: Lawbreakers Nexon Site

Released in early August of this year by Developer Boss Key Productions, Lawbreakers quickly fell from its modest peak of just under 7,500 concurrent players to a fairly consistent level of ~250 concurrent players. That’s not good for a game that aims to be “a really sweaty-palm type of experience that can hopefully lend itself to eSports”, as developer CEO Cliff Bleszinski told Gamespot in an interview.

Lawbreakers isn’t a bad game by any means, and Gamespot even rated it 8/10 in their review. The action is quick, skill-intensive, and players can either choose to play in a more team-based style, or roll solo, accomplishing objectives while moving through levels designed to encourage them to use different character’s unique playstyles, as you can see in the trailer below. So what’s the reason behind the poor player figures?

According to Bleszinski, some of the answer may lie in the lack of a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) on the game’s Alpha testing stage. Bleszinski, known in the gaming community for his role in developing the Gears of War series, feels excited fans may have been turned off to find Lawbreakers made in a much different style than the immensely popular gorefest shooter that he helped create.

The first thing would have been the alpha…it wasn’t the full vision what I wanted to achieve with this team…if I could go back, I wouldn’t have allowed that to be publicly streamed because it deflated some of the expectations, and we have to work three times as hard to win people back based on that perception.

-Cliff Bleszinski, interview with Eurogamer

In addition, a partnership with publisher Nexon, known for shipping free-to-play games with non-cosmetic microtransactions, may have also caused some players to shy away. While the game is now a paid title, currently available for $22.50 on Steam, and $30 at the Playstation Store, the initial announcement as free-to-play may have harmed its official release.

The other thing was, when we announced it as free-to-play – you can read it on any forum reaction ‘sweet, Cliff’s back’, but then it’s ‘free-to-play? Nexon?’…The thing with free-to-play…first-person shooter players are very cynical with regards to that. They expect gun rentals, they expect to be nickel-and-dimed, and they’re used to microtransactions…So we thought what about a mid-tier price point? We found looking at the backward stats in regard to the initial flush of people, a lot of players really appreciate $29.99 entry point.

-Cliff Bleszinski, interview with Eurogamer

And it seems Cliff may be right. Though the player numbers on Steam may be low, the reviews are great, with an average “Very Positive” rating across 3,000 reviews.

Steam Reviews

Photo from Lawbreakers steam page

Want a shooter as fast and vertical as Tribes, as explosive and adrenaline fueled as Unreal Tournament (the best ones: UTC, UT2k4) with classes that are reminiscent of TF2 (assassin-scout/ battle med- demo/ titan-soldier, etc) but still manage to feel fresh and with gunplay and traversal that widely differs between classes and takes time to master ? Welcome home.

Chi||969, Steam Reviews

I honestly do not understand why this games playerbase is so low. Lawbreakers is a fantastic and unique game, and is deserving of your time.

The game is a mash up of arena style shooters like Unreal Tournament and Quake with hero style shooters like Overwatch. Its gritty, has a high skill cap, its uncensored, and most importantly its fun.

Dominus, Steam Reviews

The most common theme across the few negative reviews seemed to be the low number of players, with players saying that even though they enjoyed the game, they couldn’t recommend it due to the time spent waiting on matchmaking. The second most common complaint was again related to matchmaking, though this time because teams were unbalanced.

Bleszinski’s response?

It’s a marathon. Not a sprint…We’re going to keep iterating, keep working on it. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to make the exact same archetypes that everybody else did. I wanted to make a game that was first and foremost a shooter for shooter players…I have to keep this game alive…I’m going to…continue to add to it. And try to be less of a dick, honestly.

-Cliff Bleszinksi, interview with Gamespot

Bleszinski also draws parallels between Lawbreakers and Warframe, a free-to-play, co-op action title released in mid-2013 to a lukewarm reception. However, over time Warframe has grown from a measly average of 2,000 players to be hugely successful, with an all-time high of nearly 70,000 concurrent players.

The Bossa team is also working on a team deathmatch mode for Lawbreakers, something Cliff initially chose to exclude in order to encourage other styles of play, but has since realized is something the players really want. Overall, it seems Cliff and his team have learned some valuable lessons since their release of Lawbreakers on PC. His message to his current player base?

Those of you who have been kind enough to drop $30 on this; we’ve got your back and we’re sticking with it.

-Cliff Bleszinksi, interview with Gamespot

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Source: Lawbreakers Steam Page

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Source: Lawbreakers Steam Page

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Source: Lawbreakers Nexon Site

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Source: Lawbreakers Nexon Site

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Source: Lawbreakers Nexon Site

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Source: Lawbreakers Steam Page