Attack of the Fanboy

The secret to Borderlands 2 success was originality, go figure

by William Schwartz


Borderlands 2 didn’t surprise players of the original. Those that were tolerant of the first offering found that despite some of its shortcomings, it was a really fun game to play with friends. It was something completely fresh and new, while also residing in a sub-genre that was booming in popularity. When Borderlands 2 arrived it was assumed that Gearbox would up the ante in its second offering. They did, and sold many more copies of the game in the process. Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford recently delivered a presentation at DICE where he covered numerous topics, but one was what made Borderlands 2 so successful.

Pitchford attributes the success of Borderlands 2 to the fact that it’s pretty much a game in its own genre. Who would have thought that you could possibly make a shooter that wasn’t aping Call of Duty or Battlefield 3 in some way and still see financial success.

“We blended genres in Borderlands so we were the only choice – we couldn’t be the loser among consumers’ choice. It’s not a Coke or Pepsi decision – it’s a yes or no decision,” the developer told the audience.

Pitchford describes selling his wares as a game, where there are winners and losers. The products deemed “good” by consumers are the winners, and the products deemed “bad” end up being the villain or the losers. It’s the kind of thing like we saw in 2011 when Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 went toe to toe, launching within days of one another. You don’t have to look far back into the Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 threads to find the type of vitriol that Pitchford is talking about on this very site.

Pitchford thinks in the consumers mind, what they choose is the “good” choice and what they don’t is the “bad” one, no matter how high of quality the alternative may be. Without that alternative, it was obviously all good for Borderlands 2, which was recently announced to have been closing in on the sale of six million copies since launch.

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