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Our Concerns With Borderlands 3



About a month ago, we saw the Borderlands 3 trailer drop at PAX East 2019. After taking some time to digest the content, and even following the news lately about the details surfacing, we wanted to do a follow up to our initial post about the trailer outlining our concerns on Borderlands 3.

How well will it do? Will it find an audience?

Many of us hold a nostalgic place for the Borderlands franchise, however, there are a lot of looter and shooter games in the market right now. With that in mind, Borderlands 3 will have quite some competition and really have to break through the noise that’s being generated from games like Destiny 2, Anthem and the Division filling in for the current looter and shooter titles. We also have competition from the massive success surrounding Fortnite and Apex Legends, as well. There is definitely some concern that with all the noise in the market right now from similarly genred games, Borderlands 3 may have a hard time finding it’s crowd and seeing success.

But Borderlands does have an edge, as the thing that sets it apart is it’s gritty personality. Personally, I played Destiny for well over a year, and I don’t really remember much about the game when it came to the missions, raids, strikes, and even the cast. It’s all a fuzzy blur, similar to the way you feel after a night on the town. Borderlands is something different. It’s special. And it’s ingrained in my memory. The quests, the towns, the characters, they all have such a unique personality that simply works. And overall, the franchise doesn’t take itself so seriously. For example, the Tiny Tina DLC had goofy quests like “Face McShooty” and “How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day”. It doesn’t try to be anything but itself, which is an authentic wasteland experience with you as the gritty, shoot-em-up vault hunter.

Let’s talk about “Games as a service”.

Randy Pitchford (CEO, President @ Gearbox) has gone on record to take his stance as being anti-microtransactions in games. While Borderlands has historically had DLC options, they aren’t a requirement to play through the full, main quest line for the game.

However, Strauss Zelnick (CEO, Chairman @ Take-Two Interactive) has an opposing stance and has shared openly his love for “Recurrent Consumers Spending”, aka microtransactions.

If RDR2 online and GTA V online have given us any indicators, more than likely we’ll see microtransactions roll out with Borderlands 3. It’s an unfortunate, but inevitable option for game developers at this point. To add some context, Borderlands 1 sold over 4.5 million copies as of 2011, while Borderlands 2 is sitting at over 13 million copies sold as of April 2019. While I couldn’t find specifics on the Prequel or the re-release with the Handsome Jack Collection, my guess is that they did equally well, if not better.

The big question that’s looming is how will Borderlands 3 play out? Will we see microtransactions enter the wasteland? With how many new guns have been added to the universe and actively bragged about in the press releases touted, we only have to imagine that we may see some form of microtransactions make their way to the game. More than likely, we’ll see this in the form of loot boxes that people can earn or buy. Does this mean the in game loot boxes will lessen or go away?

The other option would be a compromise for most gamers, by adding the Golden Keys (SHiFt keys) that we saw in previous games. These game codes unlocked various skins, weapons, and other in game items, and didn’t create a “pay to play” or “pay to win” business model, which most microtransactions encourage. Basically, you don’t need to purchase one of these keys in order to enjoy or progress in the game. And that’s how it should be when we’re spending $60+ on a AAA title.

Epic Store Exclusive

Epic has been throwing around their Fortnite money like there’s no tomorrow, and for them, it’s paying off. A couple of weeks ago it was formally announced that Borderlands 3 will be launched on September 13th, 2019 as a 6-month, Epic Store exclusive. This means that we won’t be seeing Borderlands 3 on other PC platforms like Steam until April 2020. This move is more than likely the result of Epic offering to only take 12% of the revenue, whereas Valve (Steam) currently takes 30% from all publishers. While I know we all still want to keep dig out our torches and pitchforks (taking aim at Epic here) we’re going to hold off for now. Epic went on record with Kotaku stating:

“If Steam committed to a permanent 88% revenue share for all developers and publishers without major strings attached, Epic would hastily organize a retreat from exclusives (while honoring our partner commitments) and consider putting our own games on Steam.”

Let’s take a step back from Borderlands for a moment and just comment on the fact that competition is good for us consumers. It gives us the power to choose where to spend our money, and where to get the best deal at times. And while none of us need a new game launcher, maybe the Epic Store launch wasn’t so bad after all if it helps put more money back into the hands of the developers who make the games we cherish so dearly.

Borderlands 3 is most certainly going to be one of the most anticipated games of 2019. It has a sizable fan base that has amassed over the past 10 years (Borderlands debuted October 2009). While the above is certainly concerning, I’m going to let the cynic in me stay dormant just a bit longer in hopes things play out in a mutually beneficial way for both fans and the developers involved.