Stunlock’s announcement that the F2P release of Battlerite would be delayed until late 2017 was met with both anxiety and appreciation from the community. They did eventually clarify that they meant more along the lines of mid-Summer 2017, but there still seems to be community disagreement about how this will affect the game’s future.
Many players felt that the initial Q1 2017 release goal was too ambitious, but they also fear that this delay may be too much.
“A number one rule in video games (and other business): don’t miss your time-to-market,” warned Reddit user Shinechane, mirroring concerns that delaying the final release for up to half a year may end up squandering the interest generated by the recent F2P Weekend event. With so much focus on Battlerite now, why risk letting the hype die down?
Others worry that the extended development time may not be spent well, considering the apparent priorities of recent patches: frills in the form of new champions and cosmetics, rather than the comprehensive balance and gameplay changes that many feel are necessary for Battlerite to reach full potential. The term “cash grab” has been tossed around in cynical circles, speaking to fears that the delay may be to eke more Early Access sales out of those who were waiting for the F2P release and to add more cosmetics for when the game finally does go free.
Some take a less dim view of Stunlock’s intentions, believing that their goal truly is to improve the game, yet still fearing that Stunlock may not have the development manpower to make the tough design decisions that many are clamoring for.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Many others laud Stunlock for making what they believe to be the responsible decision. “If they delay the launch… they’ll have the time to bring out new features that will ensure the longevity of the game,” wrote Reddit user Symethe in an impassioned post defending the delay.
Many feel the current iteration of Battlerite lacks a lot of the features found in other games: improved social features, BLC’s much-adored in-game tournament system, etc. But the good news is that Stunlock’s announcement did mention improvements to quests, spectator mode, matchmaking, and the ranking system. Six months of extra development time would provide them enough time to flesh out Battlerite’s appeal.
And in a competitive scene that’s growing increasingly anxious about a low skill ceiling and lack of depth, players are cautiously optimistic that future patches will provide changes in the core design philosophy of the game. Suggestions abound for Stunlock to use these following months to experiment, to upend systems and mechanics, to try outlandish and unique ideas for the next few champions. Though it’s hard to know if the developers are willing to take that kind of plunge, the possibility is exciting. If there was a time to take such risks, it would be during Early Access.
The success or failure of Battlerite’s delayed release will depend largely on how Stunlock uses this extra time. In my opinion, the recent addendum to their statement (suggesting openness to holding more F2P weekends) does a lot to diffuse the fear of the game losing interest before release. If those weekends are timed correctly, they’ll do a lot to bring in new and repeat F2P weekenders and keep them hungry for the final release.
Only one thing is for sure: change is needed. At this point there seem to be few in the community that don’t feel some degree of dissatisfaction with the current state of Battlerite and fear for its longevity. If nothing else, the delay suggests that Stunlock is dedicated to the long-term health of the game, investing the revenue brought in during Early Access to further development of the game and its features.
Where do you stand on Stunlock’s decision? Is a mid-Summer release stretching it too far or not far enough? Will the developers make the most of these extra months? What features are you hoping to see prioritized during the first half of 2017? Let us know in the comments!