The original 2009 Borderlands was a hit. It won warm reviews and was commercially viable at sales of over 2 million. Despite this critical and commercial success, no significant imitators have come to market, just two months before a full-blown sequel arrives in September. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford told Gamasutra he can't wrap his head around the fact that the Borderlands formula has not been copied.
"I'm actually astonished that we're about to launch a sequel and no one's stole it from us," he said. "The formula's right there. No one's stolen it yet. That's weird. We're in an industry where people do nothing but steal from each other. That's kind of interesting, isn't it? Not that I want anyone to steal it, or I'm challenging people to steal it."
Pitchford said Gearbox's approach was to avoid the competition entirely, and it was never the company's intent to go head-to-head with the likes of Battlefield or Call of Duty. Using boxing as an analogy, Pitchford said differentiating from the industry leaders allowed Borderlands to have success.
"Why let our brains get beat in and put so much energy, when we're not even sure we can beat the best boxer? We can create new sports, or we can win some other sport," he said. "If you're the only ones that do something that people find as valuable? You don't have to worry about competition. Like, Borderlands has zero competition. It doesn't have to worry about that at all."
Lastly, Pitchford recalled the marketing push for the original Borderlands. He said it was challenging to wrestle with communicating what he felt made the game great, while also not spilling design details and opening the gates for copycats.
"When talking about Borderlands 1, it was really confusing, because on one hand we gotta scream from the highest mountain to get attention because it's a new IP. On the other hand, it's like, "s***, we don't want to tell people our secret because then they're all gonna copy it because it's so good," he said.
Development recently wrapped on Borderlands 2, with Gearbox now working on postlaunch support for the game, including the mechromancer class. The game is due out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on September 18. A recent game guide writer's playthrough of the title took 58 hours, with Gearbox calling the game a "hobby." For more on Borderlands 2, check out GameSpot's latest preview.