Square Enix and Battalion 1944 split studio, announcing a free Legacy edition for Steam

As a throwback, Battalion 1944 was launched in early access in 2018. Although there were some issues, it was expected for an early access game. However, it seemed like a strong start for a niche multiplayer FPS. Square Enix, who had published Battalion 1944 as part of its Indie-focused Square Enix Collective in October 2018, apparently believed so: In November 2018, it acquired a 20% share in Bulkhead.

Unfortunately, the game and the relationship between Bulkhead & Square Enix did not go as planned. Since mid-2020, Battalion 1944’s average concurrent players have remained single-digits. A console release promised in a 2016 Kickstarter never came through, and today Bulkhead declared that it had “formally ended” its relationship with Square Enix.

The studio stated that Battalion 1944 was not made to console. They will refund all console Kickstarter backers. “We are grateful to all who backed the console version of Battalion 1944, and we regret that it took so long to rectify.

This announcement ended a painful process that had been going on for many years. Bulkhead had promised that the console version of Battalion 1944 would be “still being produced” as recently as April 2021.

Aaron Baker, community manager, wrote that there are “Loads and loads of stuff we can’t talk about at the moment, sorry”. It will become more obvious in the future. It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s what it is now.

Ironically, Baker stated in the same thread that a shift from free-to-play “won’t be happening”, but Bulkhead announced today that a “revisited final version of Battalion 1944” is being released on Steam as Battalion: Legacy.

Baker defends Legacy as not being free, but it is available for rent or purchase. However, the rest of the game seems to be accessible to everyone. It promises to be more than a quick dump and unfinished game. The new Battalion version will include the British as a playable faction. There will also be more than 30 weapons available and various upgrades.

The studio announced on Steam that they had taken the best parts of Battalion 1944 and honed them to create a fluid, bug-free experience. This includes a working browser, new weapons and classic Search & Destroy mode with all weapons. “Battalion Legacy is the culmination of all of our work, consolidated into one experience for everyone to enjoy.

Supporters are not happy about the imminent launch of the Battalion free of charge, even though it is almost here. Twitter was frustrated over the lengthy and futile wait for a console release. Some are upset that Kickstarter backers can have their money back, but Steam customers cannot. This is presumably because the refund offer only applies to console editions.

Bulkhead is currently working on Wardogs, an Unreal Engine 5-powered FPS. It also has another project that it will release news about later in the year. Baker said that they were closing a chapter. “[Battalion 1944] is no longer the quality standard we aim at as a company and team, both in capability and direction–despite what we have achieved with Battalion.”

Battalion 1944 is still available on Steam for purchase. At this point, I strongly recommend you wait a week to get the upgraded version free of charge. Battalion: Legacy will go live on August 16.

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