If I were slightly more paranoid than I am, Borderlands 3 would make me very suspicious. That’s because it is inescapable. Everywhere I look, I see developer Gearbox’s cooperative shooter. It’s almost as if it’s a warning from the universe. But this probably isn’t like the No. 23 in the Jim Carrey thriller The Number 23. Actually, I’ve never seen that movie. Is the big reveal at the end that “23” showed up everywhere because it had a huge marketing budget? Because that is exactly like what is happening with Borderlands 3.
After getting a big reveal at the PAX East fan event in March, Gearbox and publisher 2K Games brought Borderlands 3 to every other possible gathering of potential customers. It showed up at E3 2019, of course. But it also appeared at San Diego Comic Con. It was in Sony’s April PlayStation State of Play video event. And it was just at Gamescom twice — once as part of Inside Xbox and also in the Opening Night Live event. You can even download a Twitch extension to earn Borderlands 3 loot by watching livestreams. Now, that marketing push is expanding into video games themselves.
Epic Games launched an update to the battle royale shooter Fortnite that includes a major cross-promotion for Borderlands 3.
Epic is calling the event Fortnite X Mayhem. It introduces the Pandora Rift Zone to the Fortnite map. This is a new section that makes the last-player-standing shooter look like Borderlands. For example, Fortnite’s typically grassy fields give way to an alien desert with Borderlands’ signature cartoon-style cel-shaded visual effect.
In addition to the changes on the map, Epic is also adding Borderlands-inspired items to its in-game shop. You can get cosmetics to make your character look like the Psycho enemy from Borderlands. And then you can also wear the Claptrap robot, which people have previously found humorous, on your back.
Fortnite X Borderlands 3 is all about the Epic Games Store
Bringing a Borderlands 3 promotion into Fortnite seems kind of wild until you remember that Epic Games is fighting for relevancy as a game-distributor on PC. While Epic is spending a lot of money to keep games off of the competing and dominant Steam platform, those deals haven’t led to a lot of obvious cross-promotion. Borderlands 3 is changing that.
With Gearbox’s game, Epic is highlighting it as an important release in Fortnite, which is arguably the Epic Games Store’s most powerful marketing vehicle.
Millions of people play Fortnite, which is free to download. Many of those players have groups of friends that they now hang out with inside of Fortnite. It makes sense that maybe they would want to all spend some money to play a slightly different kind of game where they can all hang out. And maybe Borderlands 3 can fill that role.
Still, it’s weird to see Fortnite marketing a non-Epic game. And it will be interesting to see if this event is successful. I bet we won’t know unless we see another in-game Fortnite event for the Epic Games Store’s next huge release.