Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski and his Boss Key Productions studio is looking to put their upcoming arena shooter LawBreakers somewhere in the gray area between the $60 standard for games and free-to-play.
Bleszinski initially touted the free-to-play formula because there are no upfront costs for players looking to get into games that use the model. But during a presentation at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Thursday, Bleszinski broke the studio's months-long silence on the game to say that it is dropping the free-to-play format for LawBreakers.
During the presentation, Bleszinski told the audience that the studio held a lot of discussion over free-to-play and researched it extensively before deciding against going "down the well of players buying 'energy' or other sleazy things."
Bleszinski added that as game development for LawBreakers continued, they realized that the free-to-play format wasn't "the right fit" for it.
"LawBreakers is a competitive game at heart and that means balance is a big priority to me, my team and our community," Bleszinski said. "Using a digital premium model helps ensure an even playing field by giving fans access to every available role without any barriers."
Bleszinski didn't announce a price for the game, though gamers can now add LawBreakers to their Steam wishlists. But it's clear now that the game won't hit the standard retail price of $60 or take on a freemium format.
Back when Lawbreakers was still code named Project Bluestreak, Bleszinski participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) and expressed interest in the free-to-play format.
"I'm determined to not do 'Pay To Win,'" said Bleszinski back in July 2014. "Since this game is a shooter I want that one player who likes the game and doesn't feel like spending any money to be able to take down the trust fund kid that's spent a ton of money to have All The Stuff."
LawBreakers still doesn't have a release date yet, though it's expected to arrive this summer. When it arrives, it'll be competing with the likes of Gearbox's Battleborn and Blizzard's Overwatch, arena shooters priced at $60 and $40 respectively.
To stand out in the crowding field and to distance itself from the comparisons to the "current slew of colorful shooters on the market," Boss Key Productions decided to "dial up the maturity" of LawBreakers and has gone with a new and grittier art style.
"The new look and feel embraces the innovative and vertical nature of our game elevated by violence, intensity and competition," said Bleszinski.