While Take-Two Interactive has gigantic hits like Grand Theft Auto V plus a stable of solid franchises from XCOM to Borderlands to NBA 2K, the all-new franchises of Battleborn and Evolved have not fared well. The game’s publisher is not ready to give up on them yet and thinks there is still an opportunity for both to see success.
Battleborn launched at the start of May, but the game faced the grim prospect of the much anticipated Overwatch holding a beta test at the same time and launching just weeks later. The two games couldn’t be more different, but the issue, combined with a confused marketing message for Battleborn, led to disappointing sales.
Take-Two Interactive has not shared exact sales figures for Battleborn, but it started strong as the fourth best game-selling game in May (via Venturebeat). It then disappeared from June’s top-selling list altogether while fellow May releases Doom and Overwatch charted at No. 4 and No. 1.
The retail sales also reflected trouble for Battleborn. The title was deeply discounted soon after release and even showed up as part of a Humble Bundle sale featuring 2K Games, where the PC version could be purchased for only $15 with several other games.
The player population has also been an issue. The PC version averages only just over 1,000 players a day, per SteamDB, while console owners have complained about the length of time it takes to find other players.
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick acknowledged Battleborn’s struggles but still expressed hope for the franchise’s future.
“While the game launched to solid reviews, its performance in the market has been below our expectations. We think there remains an opportunity to grow the audience for this unique experience over time, and 2K will continue to drive engagement and recurrent consumer spending on the title through add-on content and virtual currency,” the executive explained during a Thursday financial earnings call captured by Seeking Alpha.
Evolve is pretty much in the same boat. The Turtle Rock Studios developed four-versus-one multiplayer title launched in early 2015 and faced a fierce backlash due to its DLC plans. A poor launch combined with a quickly fading player population resulted in a disappointing new franchise.
Neither Take-Two nor Turtle Rock gave up on the game and recently re-released it as the free-to-play Steam Early Access title, Evolve Stage 2. As covered by the Inquisitr, the game has received major rework based on player feedback and has added a monetization system based on character skins and other items.
The initial response has seen mixed reviews on Steam, but it was also downloaded over one million times. Additionally, the player population is relatively healthy at over 10,000 players a day, per SteamDB.
“We’re being very frank about where we are, because we’re a transparent company,” Zelnick offered when asked about the struggles of new franchises. “We’re still delivering new content to Battleborn. Audiences love Battleborn. We still have virtual currency coming for Battleborn. We’re not counting it out for a minute. We’re just telling you where we’re at now. And equally, we just launched Evolve Stage 2, which is another way to express the IP of Evolve. And we’ve had over 1 million people sign up to play Evolve Stage 2, and that’s super exciting.”
“Say what you will, the consumers actually really have said great things about Battleborn, as have the critics,” the CEO answered.
Zelnick reinforced that Take-Two will still seek to balance its portfolio by continuing to publish sequels for successful franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Civilization, and others while also creating new intellectual properties.
What do you think of Take-Two standing behind Battleborn and Evolve? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Take-Two]