A locating note: this interview took place after I had played Gearbox Software’s Borderlands 2 for an hour or so, along with other members of the press.
I will share my thoughts on the gameplay shortly, but the short version is that if you enjoyed Borderlands, Borderlands 2 should provide the same pleasures – a cooperative multiplayer first-person shooter with a quest-driven narrative, free roaming, quest hubs and Diablo-style loot dropping All Access Placement Launches On Call News.There are specific improvements also, which I will discuss later.
I spoke to Randy Pitchford, Gearbox’s President and CEO, a day after playing the game, at Rezzed, a PC gaming exhibition, after a disastrous first attempt to talk by phone on a train passing along the giant Faraday cage that seems to exist between London and Brighton (Υδρογονοκίνηση).Pitchford is an intelligent and immediately likeable presence, but he is also very much a gamer’s creator: in some ways the opposite of the buttoned-up corporate CEO, he favors velvet jackets harking back to his early life as a stage magician and expresses a passion for games in general that is immediately winning.
The latest trailer for Borderlands 2, developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games
Gearbox’s last major, multiplatform release, Duke Nukem Forever, was a curious object – a game picked up and finished by Gearbox after 3D Realms could not push it over the finishing line. Related article: Online Marketing Company, fishbat, Inc., Unveils Video Press Release about Buzzfeed’s New Twitter Project.Pitchford had begun his career in games working with George Broussard, 3D Realms’ manager, and stepped in to finish his old friend’s project. Related article: Little Pearl’s New Free Yoga Series on Amazon Offers Transformative Practices For Morning and Night.The result was a curious mix, combining playing styles and cultural references accumulated in more than a decade of development, which received criticism not only for its mechanics but also for uncomfortable lapses from the expected ribaldry and jokes around the parodic machismo of the title character into more disturbing territory.
Borderlands, Gearbox’s 2010 release, could not have been more differently received Know Technology Adds Technician to Managed Services Team.Released with few expectations, it ended up being hugely successful and widely critically praised for its unusual art style and the imagination with which it combined first-person shooter mechanics with the traditions of a dungeon-crawling role-playing game – with randomly generated monsters, leveling progression, four different character classes and a near-endless number of collectable guns, each with their own peculiarities, strengths and weakness.
The original Borderlands introduced its “concept art style” in a stylish opening sequence.
Borderlands also – and this is hard to quantify – had a good heart.Although often crude, and full of exploding heads and hideous acts committed by the bands of demented marauders which populated its space-western setting, it never felt sadistic or cruel.And the love its fans had for it was handily reciprocated – and not just with four downloadable expansion packs.When a fan asked Gearbox to help him to propose to his girlfriend, they produced a short video starring the game’s mascot and quest-giver, the robot Claptrap (the video can be seen here – it contains, let us say, some adult jokes, although no obscene language).When a young fan, Michael John Mamaril, succumbed to cancer, Claptrap delivered a recorded – and heartbreaking – eulogy: Mr Mamaril will also be memorialized in Borderlands 2.
All of which preamble, perhaps, helps to explain why for many Borderlands 2 matters not just for its impact on Take-Two’s bottom line.Gamers want Borderlands 2 to be an artistic and commercial success not just for their own playing pleasure, but because Gearbox – who first come to prominence making expansion packs for Valve’s Half-Life – is seen as good people – gamer people.
I began by asking Randy Pitchford if he could confirm the final sales tally of the original Borderlands:
Borderlands outperformed expectations hugely – I heard of sell-in (that is, boxed copies shipped to retailers) numbers of six million, and of course there are also digital sales...
I have to be careful here.As an independent developer, I can say whatever I want, but Take-Two has a responsibility to their shareholders: they have obligations according to the rules of a publicly traded company.But that kind of range is less about load-in.It’s more of a sell-through kind of range that you’re talking about [that is, copies sold to consumers, rather than distributors].According to the metrics we have, where we can see how many people play the game split-screen [i.e.two people playing using the same copy of the game, playing together in the same room], and some copies end up being bought by one person and then brought back to the store and sold back to somebody else as a used copy… We’ve reached more than 10 million people, I think, with [Borderlands].
Which leads neatly on to my next question: one of the big issues in the AAA game space is the retail market.It feels like one way of keeping people holding onto their copy is DLC – something which happened with Borderlands 1.With Borderlands 2 you announced the “Mech Romancer” as a character which people will have a chance to play after release.Do you see the used market as a real issue that you have to confront?
If we look at Borderlands, I can’t honestly say that there is anything about how well the game sold that I’m disappointed about.We periodically have to pinch ourselves to wake ourselves up because of the success that the game achieved, far beyond anyone’s most radical expectations.So, on one level you can’t really say “Damn you! I can’t survive with sales like that [sc.Affected by the used game market].I can’t worry about that, honestly, given the success we’ve experienced.
Another thing is that as a consumer I can see that that’s an interesting path.Right? If I have something that I’ve finished with, and someone else might find value in it, the idea of passing along for a price is a rational transaction.It exists in many aspects of our lives.But I do have to say that media is a different beast.
So, there’s a lot of value in having this experience [of playing a game].But once I’ve had this experience the value to me of experiencing it again might radically decrease.Meanwhile, some other person who hasn’t experienced it values it highly.And we’re talking about the value being the experience, and not the actual physical thing – the discs cost very little.The value is not the discs, the value is the experience.
So it creates this weird kind of situation when someone who gave it tremendous value before they experienced it has experienced it, and feels great about that value, but then has the ability to pass it on to somebody else who feels the same anticipation.That kind of upsets some of the business components of this.
As a creative, as an artist, I’m just excited when people want my stuff, and want to experience it.And the more people want it the better.So, it really depends on which angle you look at it from.There’s the creative point of view, the business point of view… or you can look at it from the consumer point of view.And there are reasonable positions from all of those points of view.
So, folks are trying to come up with models that take care of every interest.The ultimate model would include a situation where I can have something physical – because some of us like to consume things that way.But the guy that created it and the business guy know that if it’s going to be sold in any way, whether it’s used or not, he keeps getting a fair share.A reasonable and fair share.
And this is where online passes, for example, come in?
Yeah – again, from the creator’s point of view, there are still these paths, and different ways for people to get the game – because I want everyone to have it, right?