Update: Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has denied the rumor on Twitter, calling it "false." However, Pitchford adds that Gearbox has plans to release a free version of Battleborn that can be upgraded. It's unclear exactly how this differs from a free-to-play model, or what restrictions this trial will bear. It's possible it will resemble something like , which players can play for free or choose to purchase the entire current and future roster of characters.
We'll add new information about Battleborn's future plans as we learn more. Our original story is below.
I was just told about a reckless story about Battleborn going F2P that is false. There are no plans to convert Battleborn free to play.September 29, 2016
We have some unannounced plans to do a trial version of the game that would be free and from which retail can be purchased along with DLC.September 29, 2016
There haven't been many bigger flops in 2016 than . It came out in May to decent reviews but was almost immediately gooned by Overwatch, leading to on the purchase price within just a few weeks of launch and a super-cheap in July. Now is reporting a rumor that it will soon go entirely free-to-play.
Gearbox had intended Battleborn be free-to-play from the start, according to the site's source, but publisher 2K decided on a conventional release at full price. That price has since dropped precipitously: is currently listing it, on all platforms, at $20, compared to the $60 launch price. (, oddly enough, is still selling it for full pop.) Its peak concurrent PC player count has taken a similar swan dive, from a peak of 12,101 in May to, at this moment, 304.
The report is based on a source but entirely unsubstantiated—hence calling it a "rumor"—but a free-to-play transition seems not just likely, but inevitable. That player count is about one-tenth the number of people playing right now, and I mean no disrespect to that game and the people who love it, but if a major studio's online shooter is that far out of the top 100 on Steam less than six months after launch, drastic measures are obviously called for. Eleven months after launch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 still has around 7,000 concurrent players on PC. So does Gearbox's last game, Borderlands 2, which was released in 2012.
Kotaku says the official free-to-play announcement is expected by mid-November. I've emailed Take-Two to ask if the rumor is true, and I'll let you know what (or if) I hear back.