Borderlands 3’s Trailer Hype Undermined By Randy Pitchford Twitter Row Over Microtransactions
Borderlands 3 Microtransactions

Gearbox Software released the official gameplay video for Borderlands 3 on May 1st, 2019. The video featured three minutes of pure gameplay content, revealing several new vehicles you can utilize, including a mono-wheel battle pod, and several new variations of heavily armored jeeps, all new weapon types, status effects, locations to visit, and a variety of enemies and boss types to face off against.

A lot of it still looks exactly like Borderlands 2 just with new areas to explore and new enemies to kill. One highlight is that it looks like there are some light elements of environmental destruction on display, which you see in effect at the 2:19 mark in the video below, which was posted up courtesy of GameSpot.

The trailer garnered a ton of positive feedback from viewers, many of whom claim they can’t wait to play the game when it launches on September 13th, 2019 for Xbox One, PS4, and on the Epic Games Store for PC.

While the gameplay reveal trailer had a lot of hype behind it, another bit of controversy was brewing over on the Twitter feed of Game Informer.

The consternation that cooked conflagration on the publication’s social media feed was caused by none other than the president of Gearbox Software… Randy Pitchford.

He was more perturbed than a problematic Pablo who only had seven pesos to his name.

On May 1st, 2019, Pitchford called the Game Informer headline “clickbait” because they rightly pointed out the game’s reliance on microtransactions.

More accurately, Pitchford claimed that the game wouldn’t have microtransactions. However, Game Informer ethically revealed through a short interview with Gearbox Software creative director, Paul Sage, who told the outlet…

“We’re selling cosmetic items, but we’re not going to nickel and dime players. DLC will come down the line, but the game won’t have anything excessive.”

Basically, this means that Borderlands 3 will have microtransactions. How aggressive they are remains to be seen, but Borderlands 2 was loaded with them from top to bottom, which included all sorts of cosmetics, missions and characters. It wasn’t quite as aggressive as Dead or Alive 5, but it was still pretty bad.

In this case, Pitchford was livid that Game Informer would break through his marketing spiel to roll out the truth to gamers and warn them ahead of time that Borderlands 3 will not be bereft of microtransactions the way Pitchford tried pitching on stage when peddling the features for the game. Pitchford contradicted Sage by claiming that there were no plans for cosmetic items in Borderlands 3, but they would add them if they saw demand for them.

Game Informer editor-in-chief Andy McNamara had no quarter for a bevy of words, and simply responded with “Really?”

Updating the article to claim that there would be no microtransactions would mean that the creative director of the game, Paul Sage, was lying. Now in a case where there is a duality of information, the one least credible is the one that is likely to not be true. And given Pitchford’s history of bending promises into falsehoods, it’s easy to see why McNamara would respond the way he did.

As of the writing of this article, McNamara did not update the original Game Informer piece with Pitchford’s statements.

Obviously gamers were a lot more inquisitive about the DLC than McNamara, since they would be the ones footing the bill when all of the DLC drops. One person asked Pitchford a yes or no question if the game would have DLC, and Pitchford responded with the following.

As others pointed out, Pitchford originally pitched that the game would have “no microtransactions”, which they rightly surmised is not the same as “no lootboxes”, since those are two very different types of monetization.

Some of Pitchford’s own fanboys even corrected him on his used car salesman antics by bringing up exactly what he mentioned during the live-stream, and how it was a complete contradiction of his statements aimed at Game Informer.

The quote that Shane Firth is talking about refers to the segment in the live-stream at the 1:49:30 mark which you can view in the video below that was uploaded to the Borderlands YouTube channel.

To quote that segment specifically, Pitchford states…

“Yeah, we’re gonna do some kickass campaign DLC, and I’m sure we’re gonna do all kinds of fun customizations like heads and skins, but we’re not doing any of that free-to-play junk, there’s not gonna be any microtransactions; there’s not gonna be any of that nonsense.”

Even with users very clearly pointing out that he did indeed say that there would be no microtransactions, he was still defending that Game Informer was in the wrong.

The conversation then devolved into arguments over the Epic Games Store exclusivity, to which angry PC gamers pointed out that Gearbox should release their games on Steam instead of just keeping it exclusive to Epic.

Randy responded by throwing 2K Games, the publisher of Borderlands, under the bus.

Pitchford still decided to end the exchange by making a separate thread with 18 tweets. Yes, 18 tweets.

Pitchford began his blandishing amphilogy by stating…

“With Borderlands 3 I have made a commitment to consistency with how things were done in Borderlands 2. I am proud of our record of good will and best-in-class customer value with the main games and with DLC we added as our fans demanded more content.


“Borderlands 3 will be consistent with what players have come to expect from prior Borderlands games – except Borderlands 3 is a bigger, better and more valuable experience. We expect that to continue as we look at campain DLC as well. During our preview event, I stood on stage in front of a live audience of press and streamers and an on-line audience of hundreds of thousands of gamers to share the first ever game play of Borderlands 3. We started at the very beginning of the game and let people see everything as it actually is. After an hour long presentation with live, honest game play we invited our live audience to play *unguided* for 90m of free play, live streaming to their audiences around the world.


“So far today the live streamers have generated well over one million viewer hours of Borderlands 3 live streaming content. I cannot recall a more transparent preview event of this scale (happy to be corrected).


“While on-stage I affirmed my commitment that Borderlands 3 was designed to be what a Borderlands game is supposed to be. I talked about story, style and design. I talked about our commitment to, for example, continued support of local split screen coop and off-line play – this in a world where shooter looters are forcing on-line only game-as-service models only.


“I made a commitment that Borderlands 3 would be supported after launch with big, fun, valuable campaign DLC and character modifications. I made a commitment to this feeling right-at-home to players of previous Borderlands games. Our post launch plans are in flux as we are finishing the main game, but we have committed to a robust season pass that I am confident will be measurable later as an even better value proposition than Borderlands 2, which is the reigning gold standard for season pass value.


“Our post-launch plans are in flux, but I made a commitment that Borderlands 3 would not pursue F2P style monetization.


“I believe Game Informer to have a clear understanding of what was done in Borderlands 2 and that it can clearly differentiate that from what is done in F2P games. I believe Game Informer should be in a great position to offer clarity.


“I trust and believe you, Andy, that Game Informer’s intent was to clarify and not confuse. I agree that the few words I chose on stage left room for them to be construed towards confusion. I like Game Informers potential to avoid such confusion. I know you are objective enough to see how the words that Game Informer twitter authors chose led some Game Informer readers to take the meaning that GI was calling me out as being misleading… lying.


“I am grateful for you confirmed that you understand and believe that I did not lie – did not have intent to lie. Because I love and trust Game Informer (and know GI’s readers trust it too), it is important to me to have that piece of mind.


“I agree that Game Informer can provide a valuable resource for gamers for clarity and detail. I hope that Game Informer can find a way to confirm our commitment to post launch DLC (campaign and cosmetic) without leading people to believe that there is any intent to mislead.


“Thank you in advance for granting me some leniency in my emotional response to this situation. The importance of today combined with the high regard to which I hold you and your magazine combined with past pain points I have suffered all conspired to amplify my sensitivity.


“In a moment where I had expected the team and I would be supported and applauded for holding-the-line with our stance on AAA monetization, I was hurt to suffer both claims of dishonesty and a suggestion that we had fallen on this point from Game Informer.


“Any help you can offer to help your readers to see Borderlands 3 fairly and see me as you know me would be deeply appreciated. As always, you can reach me at any time. I have always been naturally sincere and transparent with you both on and off the record. Thanks, Andy.”

As mentioned, the article hasn’t changed from its current state, and it still contains Paul Sage’s quote, while referencing what Pitchford said on-stage during the reveal of Borderlands 3‘s gameplay.

What’s so bizarre about the whole thing is that the headline is “Borderlands 3 Won’t Have Lootboxes”, which is probably about the best pro-corporate headline a developer could ask for while still peddling the promise of one day including microtransactions into the game, regardless of whether they’re game-affecting or cosmetic.

Trust that I would have been far less accommodating had I helmed the headline for Game Informer after a developer blatantly said that the game wasn’t going to have microtransactions when it turns out that it actually will have microtransactions.

You can look for Borderlands 3 to launch on September 13th, 2019 later this year for Xbox One, PS4, and on the Epic Games Store for PC.

(Thanks for the news tip White Guitar Boy)


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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