LawBreakers will no longer be free to play, is exclusive to Steam

Lawbreakers crop

At a GDC panel today, Boss Key Productions announced that LawBreakers would not be free to play as originally announced. Members of the panel, which included CEO Cliff Bleszinski and COO Arjan Brussee, explained that the model no longer made sense with the direction they were taking the game. Bleszinski pointed out that they “didn’t want to go down that road of buying energy, or other sleazy tactics,” though did mention that the game could feature skins or similar cosmetic options. Art Director Tramell Isaac said the free to play model made development become about "How do we get money?" instead of "How do we make a great game?" and that it became a "distraction.”

Additionally, Boss Key announced that the game will not use any sort of launcher, instead being exclusive to Steam. Bleszinski felt that a launcher just put up more barriers to people actually playing the game, and that if it takes "more than three steps," many people will just walk away entirely. Brussee said he doesn't "like making new friends," referencing Steam's friends list as the easiest way to let players connect with one another. As part of the exclusivity announcement, LawBreakers is now up on Steam with a release window of "Summer 2016." While there's no price listed, and Boss Key didn't announce anything today, Bleszinski mentioned that maybe there's a middle-ground between free to play and $60, implying LawBreakers might go with a similar model to CS:GO or Overwatch.

However, most of the GDC panel today was devoted to how Boss Key has been working to differentiate their game since it was first shown at PAX Prime last August. "In July [2014], we didn't have a team," Brussee said. "In two months, we had playtests." And roughly a year after that, LawBreakers was made playable during PAX. Boss Key said they were proud of this agile, gameplay-focused development speed, but that it meant they weren't able to give the game a voice of its own. “We were moving so fast, there was no time to pinpoint the identity of this stuff," said Studio Communications Manager Rohan Rivas, and as a result, Boss Key has worked towards refining the look of LawBreakers into something less comparable to Overwatch.

Part of this is the redesigned logo seen below, a logo so new it hasn't even been changed over on the game's forum page yet. Isaac mentioned that they "wanted to take that cartoony look out of the game a little bit more," which was apparent from some of the redesigned characters and levels shown during the panel. The early screens we saw of a colorful, Japanese level has been reworked into a darker, more industrial arena with subtle Japanese influences.

Lawbreakers logo

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.