After an initial reveal last August, followed by a notable period of silence, LawBreakers — the first-person shooter formerly known as Project Bluestreak in development at former Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski's new studio, Boss Key Productions — has re-emerged with some changes.
Bleszinski and team announced those changes — most notably a move away from Boss Key's plans for a free-to-play model, and a new art style meant to help it stand out from a busy crowd — during a GDC presentation today titled "Surrounded by 800lb Gorillas! Standing Up to the Competition."
"Is there a gray area between free-to-play and 60 dollars?" Bleszinski asked the crowd.
"We did a lot of discussions and even more research. There are some core free-to-play games that do well, but for us, we didn’t want to go down the well of players buying 'energy' or other sleazy things," Bleszinski said. "A lot of core gamers have a negative reaction when they hear free-to-play because they think they’ll get ripped off."
"We don’t want people to have to jump through hoops and sign up with their emails to play our game"
"We are more in the line of Team Fortress with less classes that are deeper, and we didn’t want to throw 20 classes in and limit that depth," chief operating officer Arjan Brussee said. Boss Key feels like the limited number of characters doesn’t lend itself to the character-for-pay business model of the biggest free-to-play titles. The studio also observed the "rampant" negativity around free-to-play among the core gaming audience.
That's not the only thing LawBreakers has in common with Valve's Team Fortress. The game will be exclusive to Valve's Steam platform.
The team debated on using a launcher like other free-to-play titles. "I don’t want to make new friends," said Brussee. "We don’t want people to have to jump through hoops and sign up with their emails to play our game," Bleszinksi added. "We want to go where our players are," said Rohan Rivas, the studio's communications manager.
But the game's business model wasn't the only thing to change. The art style has also undergone alterations.
"We didn’t go from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Gears [of War]," Boss Key art director Tramell Isaac said before revealing the game's new look and logo, quoting boss Cliff Bleszinski. He later added, "What sets us apart is we recognize when something is wrong, and we change it."
"We knew we weren’t going to reinvent the wheel," Bleszinki said in response to a question from the audience. "Randy Pitchford played our game at PAX and said 'be the M-rated game'," Bleszinki said, noting that games like Overwatch and Battleborn are very T-rated games in their character design and aesthetic.
Update: A press release announcing the changes just went out, noting the game will be "a digital premium title instead of free-to-play, though it won’t be priced at $60" and adding that it can now be added to Steam wishlists. We've also added some official assets.