The popular list building software has a big deadline coming and it’s not what you think it is.
When you hear the name Battlescribe you’re probably thinking of the very popular app/software that you can use to create army lists/squads/rosters for various miniatures wargames. If we’re being completely honestly, it’s probably what the majority of Warhammer 40,000 players use to construct lists these days, too. That said, the days of the software’s prominence in the 40k scene are numbered. So what’s going on? Let’s look at some facts and go from there.
Battlescribe Gone Dark
When we’re talking about the software we need to talk about a few different things to make sure we’re all on the same page. First up, there are basically two groups that run what the community comes to know as Battlescribe. There are the Developers of Battlescribe. The Developers are ones responsible for the core code of the software. They built it, manage updates, make sure things are working, handle the backend functionality of the app. They own the website.
And then there are the Data Authors of Battlescribe. This is the community of users who create, edit, and update the data files for the various game systems that are compatible with Battlescribe. They are the ones who have poured a lot of time into converting the rules for list building into files other users can download and use to build their army lists. They are (as far as we could tell) unpaid volunteers and not employees of Battlescribe. They are not responsible for maintaining the core code behind the software.
The Data Authors are still very much active and working on all sorts of army lists for all the various game systems. They are on Reddit. They have a discord. They are very much interested in keeping the app going. This is not their fault.
The Developers — or really the Developer (singular) has gone dark. If you pop over to the reddit page, you don’t have to scroll down very far to see what’s going on. We’re not here to get into that community’s business or figure out what happened. But with some simple double-checking on the app store, google play, and the website, it’s not hard to see what’s going on.
Down The Rabbit Hole
If you go to the App Store page that was linked from the Battlescribe website, you can still find the software available for download. Same with the Google Play for Android. They both tell the same story:
The last update (as per the version history) was back in June of 2020. That was 17 months ago. Before that, it was getting regular updates and support. You can see from the Apple Store screen shot above, it was almost monthly updates. Furthermore, you can also check the Battlescribe website for more info:
Under there “Latest News” section their last update was from August of 2019. That was over 2 years ago at this point.
Time Is Running Out
We’re not here to speculate on what cause the Developer to essentially abandon this software. We do know it’s a VERY popular tool used for list building. Just the Google Play site has it listed at over 500,000 installs. That’s not a small number. And those folks are going to be left in the cold. But what’s driving it? Simple. Software Updates.
As Apple releases new versions of it’s iOS and Google does the same for Android there is going to come a point in time when one of those updates are just going to break something. That break will cause the software to not run properly any more. That’s just the nature of Apps — you keep them up-to-date and compatible with the latest OS versions or they will eventually stop working. This software hasn’t had a major update in almost 18 months, how much longer do you think the App will stay compatible with whatever new security updates Apple rolls out for the shiniest and newest iOS? The same could be said for Android.
I guess you could just not update your OS…ever again.
Sure, you could run older versions or install it on the Windows you’re running now and never, ever update. That’s up to you. But the fact remains that eventually this software is going to break without the Developer updating it. The Developer manages the core code — not the Data Authors and the community.
Again, we’re not going to go into why this happened. We don’t know. Any one saying that “So-and-so got a message from Company X’s Legal Department” is probably making it up. We did find a message on their twitter page that apparently there was “joke” that got out of hand. But was back in 2020. Fast forward to now and…well, it’s still up and running. For now.
Depending on the game system you’re running, there are probably alternate options out there. Battlescribe is still working for a vast majority of those games. 40k and AoS both have other, official options. X-Wing does, too. Are these the best options? That’s for the users to decide but there was a reason folks were and are still using Battlescribe. The simple fact is that it’s 2021 and if a company has a Tabletop Wargame, they should probably have an official list building app for their game as well.
Hopefully the users don’t get left out in the cold on this one. Personally, I couldn’t care less which list building software you used as long as it was accurate and truthful. There were a lot of things various software have done right over the years and lots of stuff they got wrong. But they were made with the intention of helping players get organized and play the games they wanted to play with accurate lists. There’s nothing wrong with that in my book.
The clock is ticking…