Why Ubisoft Acquiring Brawlhalla Might Kill The Community Driven Indie GameMarch 10, 2018
Blue Mammoth Games, developer of the free-to-play platform fighter Brawlhalla, has recently been acquired by Ubisoft. Brawlhalla, fully released in October 2017, was a game inspired by Super Smash Bros, where the goal of the game is to knock one’s opponent off the stage. This is done by attacking the opponent repeatedly. The damage can be seen on the color display around the opponent’s character icon, which goes from white to red as the player continues to get hit. Getting knocked off the stage will result in the player losing a life. The last player standing wins the match.
Brawlhalla is one of the most popular fighting games on Steam, and has around 12,000 players online every day. Blue Mammoth Games sanctioned the Brawlhalla Circuit, an event that allows players from all over the world to participate in competitive tournaments. Similar to other esport leagues like the Overwatch League, it has a points system and a league table that runs throughout the year. The third competitive season recently kicked off thanks to a partnership with Dreamhack and it will conclude with the Brawlhalla World Championship.
Blue Mammoth Games are quite adept at running competitive, multiplayer online games and at first, they seem to be a great addition to Ubisoft’s network of studios.
Ubisoft has several successful online multiplayer titles, like Rainbow Six Siege, and the Tom Clancy Series with over 25 million players and Brawlhalla is their first indie multiplayer online game. Blue Mammoth’s multiplayer indie game has picked up its own fanbase and hopes to grow substantially with this partnership.
According to the Blue Mammoth team, they have worked hard to ensure that Brawlhalla will always be free to play and never pay to win. They claim that Ubisoft shares the same philosophy and is one of the reasons they agreed to the partnership.
Brawlhalla uses a Hero Rotation system similar to MOBAs like League of Legends and Smite. 6 Heroes are released on rotation changing weekly. One earns in-game currency by winning games and can buy more heroes with the currency. The heroes are priced at 2300, 3900 and 5400 coins and newer heroes are priced at 7200 coins. It takes time and dedication to grind for those heroes, so the game offers you an alternative where you can buy all the heroes with real money. Unfortunately, the in-game currency is only used for purchasing heroes and nothing else. They release multiple cosmetics for all the characters but the only way of accessing these is buying their special paid currency called Mammoth Coins.
The difference between Brawlhalla and Ubisoft’s other games is that they have a different market and a different target demography. Brawlhalla is a community driven, indie-based game, and it would take a beating if it moves too far away from its current model. Ubisoft has to make sure not to apply the same strategy to all of their products.
What could happen however, is the currency gained after matches would decrease and the prices of heroes and cosmetics would increase. For example, the game For Honor, costed $40 and required around 7 hours of grinding just to buy an emote.
However, Ubisoft is a reputed company, and hopefully they give Blue Mammoth Games enough resources to help the studio grow. As long as they have enough stability and resources to improve the game and add new features, they will be able to become more known and increase the size of their fanbase.