The competitive multiplayer side of Gearbox FPS Battleborn is now free to play.

The shift is an expected one: last July and September, rumours surfaced that the move was coming, and Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said a trial was coming.

From its launch in May 2016, Battleborn has struggled to attract players. Its decline mirrors that of fellow 2K published shooter Evolve, which went free-to-play in July 2016, before 2K pulled developer Turtle Rock from the game.

Battleborn Free Trial gives players access to all four of the game's competitive multiplayer modes (a fifth is coming on June 22), and a rotating roster of six of its 30 heroes.

You can unlock more heroes and customisations using Credits earned while playing matches, or by plunking down some real money.

Alternatively, you can upgrade to get the full base game including 25 base characters, all eight Story Mode missions and the Prologue, and permanent access to private matches. If you upgrade to the full game or purchase the Season Pass bundle but already own some of the content in the bundle, you will be credited the value of that content in Credits.

Battleborn Free Trial is available now on Steam and Xbox One, and is coming to PS4 on June 13. PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold memberships are required to play.

Players who purchased Battleborn prior to today’s free trial launch gain Founder status, which includes Credits, a “Founder” player title, Gold skins for to characters, Loot Packs, and five Command Faction Packs.

There's more info on the Battleborn blog.

In somewhat related news, Gearbox Software "chief creative champion" Mikey Neumann has left the studio and the games industry due to ill health.

Neumann suffered a stroke in 2011 at age 29. He recovered, but complications with multiple sclerosis have seen him call it a day. You can read more about his battle here.