Let’s give amateur magician and Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford a bit of a break. I imagine he simply doesn’t have time to play a wide variety of game genres, with his extended celebration of lawsuits against him being dismissed while also dealing with accusations of allegedly stiffing his own employees on expected bonuses. With all of that going on in your life you’d be forgiven for missing the genesis of new genres and the origins of the “hero shooter” that stems from the beloved 2016 Gearbox classic and trailblazer Battleborn. Right? Battleborn? Remember timeless characters such as Phoebe, Oscar Mike, Marquis, and the rest of the gang? If you’re confused then join the crowd, because based on a Twitter conversation Randy Pitchford had with a random follower, the Gearbox chief seems to think that Battleborn “spearheaded” the hero-shooter genre, telling people to “celebrate innovation.” Oh, honey.
Yes! Battleborn successfully spearheaded the hero-shooter genre. That there are now several *massive* games that have insanely eclipsed Battleborn’s respectable 3 million player base is evidence of the power of the idea. Celebrate innovation!
— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) July 22, 2020
For those confused by the statement and maybe even wondering what a Battleborn is, let’s takes a trip down memory lane. Released in May of 2016 to middling reviews, Battleborn was a short lived team-based shooter that attempted to blend MOBA elements with first-person shooting. If you want to get technical, this idea was being done by the now-dead game Super Monday Night Combat as far back as 2012, but maybe that’s too inside baseball. If we’re getting into the real nitty-gritty of why Pitchford saying that “Battleborn successfully spearheaded the hero-shooter genre” is a load of horse-hooey, look no further than…Oh, I don’t know: Overwatch?
— Battleborn (@Battleborn) March 7, 2016
Now, we know that Gearbox knew Overwatch existed in 2016, as shown by the very lame attempt at a barb via tweet featured above. Let’s not also ignore that little detail of Overwatch releasing in October of 2015, which doesn’t even take into account that the game was even in alpha and beta for a full year before that. And if we wish to get even more technical than this, the hero-shooter genre doesn’t even blink into existence without the rise of MOBAs, which populated the idea of a team-based game featuring unique characters with abilities vying for points on a map. Let’s take it all the way back to 2007’s Team Fortress 2? Even 2014’s Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare released a couple years ahead of Battleborn, with its sequel, Garden Warfare 2, hitting a few months before the Gearbox title in 2016.
If you want to get technical and make the direct and obvious comparisons to Blizzard’s popular shooter, Battleborn was announced a few months before the reveal of Overwatch, but that also ignores that Blizzard’s Project Titan–the precursor to Overwatch–had been in development for seven years prior. This is all to say that Randy Pitchford is wrong: Battleborn spearheaded nothing, and if we want to be honest with ourselves then the hero shooter genre was established by Warcraft III. Truly, we bow down to the true king of the shooting arena. Don’t worry, Randy. You’ll always have magic and Medieval Times.