Borderlands 3 is coming September 13 and exclusively on PC to the Epic Games Store. At least those are the release details according to a handful of leaks. Developer Gearbox Software and publisher 2K Games are not confirming the date or exclusivity.
Gearbox announced Borderlands 3 last week at the PAX East fan convention in Boston. Today, the Borderlands 3 Twitter account posted that “Mayhem is coming September 13.” The account has since deleted the tweet.
Some fans also found a 6-second Twitter video ad that started playing around the same time. That clip did not include the date, but it did feature a logo for the Epic Games Store and not Steam. Many people in the Borderlands community are taking this to mean that the latest sequel for the loot-based cooperative shooter will appear exclusively on Epic Games Store on PC.
Epic has invested a lot to make those kinds of exclusivity deals. It worked with publisher Deep Silver to bring developer 4A’s Metro Exodus exclusively to EGS. And it worked with Ubisoft, but not to get Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 exclusively on Epic Games Store. Instead, Epic spent money to keep it off of Steam, but you can still buy it on UPlay.
So Epic showing up with bags of cash for Borderlands 3 sounds like a distinct possibility. And Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford has all but confirmed that it’s happening.
The talent speaks
Whenever Epic makes one of these exclusivity agreements, many Steam fans show up on social media to loudly complain. While some people just don’t want to use another launcher, others dislike Epic Games Store for its lack of features.
But regardless of their reasons, Pitchford is hearing about it in his Twitter mentions. And that led him to claim on Twitter that he has no control over where 2K Games decides to publisher Borderlands 3.
“2K/Take-Two has exclusive publishing rights for Borderlands 3 and makes all decisions regarding price-points, territories, distribution, and platform partnerships,” Pitchford wrote in a tweet. “Please direct all inquiries regarding any of those topics to 2K. We are just the talent.”
Epic confirmed at the Game Developers Conference that it does not talk to developers when they have a publishing deal. Instead, the company makes agreements with publishers, and then it expects publishers to tell studios that they are going with an Epic Games Store exclusivity.
Outer Wilds developer Obsidian said that’s what Epic and publisher Private Division did to its game.
“We do want to let you know that our Private Division partners have been fantastic,” Obsidian communications boss Mikey Dowling said during a panel at PAX East. “We love working with them. This is a decision that they made for the game, and we’re just excited to be working with them on the game.”
Pitchford’s phrasing echoes Dowlings. That is likely because Private Division is a subsidiary of 2K Games, so it makes sense that the messaging would sound similar.
All of this may seem like Epic and publishers are pulling the rug out from under developers, but — in the words of Don Draper — that’s what the money’s for.
Six months and cross-play
He also went on to imply that the exclusivity window is only going to last for half a year. The executive also provided some insight into other reasons why this is a good deal.
“To me, exclusives are fine when they come with advantages and when they are short,” Pitchford wrote on Twitter. “For what it’s worth, 2K’s decisions aside, myself and the team at Gearbox have a very keen interest in cross-platform play. We believe multi-platform support is a prerequisite and Epic’s leadership with cross platform support is helpful to our interests there.”
Of course, Gearbox does not have to publish Borderlands 3 on Epic Games Store to get support with cross-platform play. Epic launched its cross-platform tools for free for all developers regardless of platform in December. But I’m sure Pitchford was too busy looking for USB sticks and Medieval Times to read our story about that.