On March 28, Gearbox Software took the stage at PAX East to announce that Borderlands 3 was finally on the way. This reveal was met with much celebration from both those in attendance and those watching at home, but the presentation was not without its problems. Technical issues plagued the reveal of Borderlands 3 at PAX East, and while Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford kept excitement up with his bejeweled dress shirt, the reveal trailer was ultimately shown under less than ideal conditions.
Certainly, technical problems are not uncommon, and those that were experienced during the Borderlands 3 announcement were far from enough to diminish the hype surrounding it. However, looking back at the months between then and now, it may not have been possible for Borderlands 3 to have a more fitting reveal. Indeed, the road to the release of Borderlands 3 has been a wild one, filled with extreme lows and sublime highs, and here is the story of that journey.
8 Borderlands 3 is an Epic Games Store Exclusive
Less than one week after the high that was the announcement of Borderlands 3, it was revealed that BL3 is an Epic Games Store timed exclusive, which means that the PC version of the game will only be available through Epic's distribution platform for the six months that follow its release. This news did not go down well, as many fans do not wish to engage with the Epic Games Store, and this promptly led players to review bomb Borderlands and Borderlands 2 on Steam in protest.
This prompted Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford to make several statements about exclusivity on his Twitter account. In a lengthy tweet storm, for example, Pitchford defended Epic Games Store exclusivity vehemently, indicating that the competition that Epic's platform creates for Steam is in the best interest of those playing on PC. Despite this defense, there are certainly many fans that still believe that relegating titles to exclusivity is not a competitive tactic that has their interests in mind.
This is not where the story of Borderlands 3 and the Epic Games Store ends, though, as it was discovered at the end of April that BL3 was available through third-party key sellers. This meant that players could purchase Borderlands 3 from sites like Green Man Gaming and Humble and completely circumvent some of what Pitchford praised in the Epic Games Store, namely the 88/12 split it offers developers, in the process. When pointed out to Pitchford on Twitter, the Gearbox CEO seemed confused, telling fans that they "must be mistaken."
Additionally, the Epic Games Store-fueled Borderlands 3 drama continued when a sale hit the platform in mid-May. At its launch, this sale appeared to be site-wide, and pre-orders of Borderlands 3 saw a $10 price cut initially. However, it seems that this discount was not intended, as Borderlands 3 was temporarily removed from the Epic Games Store for the duration of the sale, though pre-orders that occurred before its removal were honored.
7 Randy Pitchford vs. Borderlands Voice Actors
At the beginning of April, veteran voice actor Troy Baker expressed his disappointment at not being invited back to reprise his role as Rhys in Borderlands 3. Pitchford, however, seemed to have a totally different take on the situation, indicating that Baker turned down the role in Borderlands 3. Baker followed this up with his own response, stating that it was in fact Gearbox that told him that he would not be coming back for BL3, and he went on to advise Pitchford to "fact check" before making comments to the contrary.
That said, Baker is not the only voice actor that has spurred controversy since the official announcement of Borderlands 3. Around the same time, David Eddings, the voice actor behind Calptrap, announced that he would not be returning due to issues with payment. Furthermore, Eddings took this opportunity to acknowledge another controversy, implying that Pitchford had received a $12 million advance from funds that was meant to go to Gearbox for development.
Pitchford was not going to let these claims go down without a response, though, and the Gearbox CEO said that Eddings was just "bitter and disgruntled" after having been previously terminated. Pitchford further indicated that Eddings had been offered "2x scale" to once again assume the role of Claptrap but turned it down.
These words prompted another response from Eddings, who then claimed that Pitchford physically assaulted him in 2017. Gearbox would go on to respond to this accusation, stating that it "takes any and all claims of this nature very seriously and [it] will abstain from commenting on the allegations Dave is making because it is a personnel matter."
6 A Fan with Terminal Cancer Plays Borderlands 3 Early
As previously mentioned, the road to BL3 has not been exclusively filled with controversies, and one of the most sublime moments of the past months came when a terminally ill fan was given early access to Borderlands 3. After taking to Reddit with his story, and the dream of getting to play Borderlands 3, 26 year old Trevor Eastman was contacted by 2K Games. This contact indicated that a representative would visit Eastman, giving him a chance to spend some time with the new shooter.
This visit has since occurred, and Eastman's dream of playing Borderlands 3 has been realized. Additionally, Eastman was given the opportunity to name a unique item in Borderlands 3, which players can look forward to encountering when the game's release date finally arrives.
5 Borderlands 3 Will Not Have Microtransactions, Sort Of
In May, Borderlands 3 had its first gameplay reveal, and fan response was quite positive indeed. However, Pitchford started a bit of a hullabaloo when he took the stage at the reveal with indication that Borderlands 3 would not feature any microtransactions or "free-to-play junk." The Gearbox CEO immediately followed this statement by suggesting that the game would feature purchasable cosmetics, which left some confused about his claim that there would be no microtransacions.
Game Informer reported on this seeming disconnect, and this reporting prompted quite an aggressive response from Pitchford, who described its article as "incomplete context click bait bulls***." This led to a brief feud between Pitchford and Game Informer Editor-In-Chief Andy McNamara on Twitter, with McNamara asking the Gearbox CEO to explain "what was wrong" with the coverage, and the Gearbox CEO claiming that the publication had "muddled and confused the situation."
4 Randy Pitchford Shares a Video of a Cat Getting Pinched by a Crab
At the end of May, Pitchford shared a video on his Twitter account that depicted a cat being pinched by a crab. While Pitchford's intention in sharing this video did not seem to be to advocate animal cruelty, the video suggested that those that had done the filming setup the situation for the cat to get pinched, and this did not go down well with some Twitter users.
Indeed, fans criticized Pitchford for sharing a video of animal cruelty, and the Gearbox CEO chose to respond to these criticisms. For some, Pitchford's response came across as about as bizarre as sharing the video in the first place, as he said, "I tend to favor curiosity and disfavor setting up a feeling and empathetic creature for discomfort. Yet among the negative reactions I felt watching this, there’s also some other stuff that isn’t exactly negative. This makes me curious about how other people react..."
3 Borderlands 2 Gets New, Free DLC
While rumors had been circulating that Borderlands 2 would receive new DLC prior to the release of Borderlands 3, Gearbox made it official with the announcement of Commander Lilith & the Fight For Sanctuary at E3 2019. This DLC is intended to connect Borderlands 2 to Borderlands 3, and Gearbox's willingness to release free content for a seven year old game demonstrated its commitment to its fans.
Without question, this demonstration has been one of the high points on the road to the release of Borderlands 3, and many fans are certain to be thankful to have found a reason to revisit Borderlands 2 in the interim. Additionally, the fans that have now played the DLC should feel quite well prepared when they dive into the new game.
2 Borderlands 3 Devs Accidentally Stream a Playthrough
With the release of Borderlands 3 looming, Gearbox began testing some of the game's Twitch-based features by secretly streaming the game on the live streaming platform. However, these streams ended up not being so secretive, as industrious fans discovered the casts and were able to see approximately four hours of Borderlands 3 more than a month before its official launch.
While no video emerged from these accidental Borderlands 3 streams, some images did surface, providing fans with even more information on the game. The most exciting of these images was one that gave players their very fist look at one of FL4K's skill trees in Borderlands 3, which finally broke the relative silence surrounding this new Vault Hunter.
1 Take-Two Investigates SupMatto for Borderlands 3 Leaks
Following the discovery of the aforementioned secret Borderlands 3 Twitch streams, YouTuber SupMatto included thumbnail images from these casts in some of his subsequent videos. This prompted Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Borderlands 3 publisher 2K Games, to issue copyright strikes against SupMatto's channel, and the company allegedly sent two private investigators to his house to harass him.
When details on this investigation emerged, fans took to Twitter in frustration, and ultimately the hashtag #BoycottBorderlands3 started trending. Furthermore, it is now known that the action taken against SupMatto is just one part of an ongoing investigation that focuses around Borderlands 3 leaks.
While the months since the announcement of Borderlands 3 have been rocky to say the least, there have been some truly exceptional moments as well. Additionally, a sentiment has prevailed through all of the issues and controversies outlined here, and that is that Borderlands 3 is going to be a treat for fans of the series to play. With only about one month to go before the Borderlands 3 release date arrives, players do not have to wait much longer to see if this holds true.
Borderlands 3 launches on September 13 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version also in development.