Valve Stops Borderlands Review Bombing Over BL3 Epic Store Exclusivity

Mayhem comes to the store wars.

125 Comments
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Now Playing: Borderlands 3 - Release Date Trailer

The Epic Games Store has been snatching up exclusivity deals as a shot against the bow of Steam, the biggest digital PC game storefront. The company's latest score is Borderlands 3, and some fans are not happy about it. So not-happy, in fact, that they've resorted to review bombing the older games that made them fans in the first place.

Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel have all suffered a spate of negative reviews on Steam. Each is rated as "Positive" or "Very Positive" for overall reviews, but "Mixed" or "Mostly Negative" in hundreds or thousands of recent reviews. Many of the negative reviews explicitly mention the Epic Store. Tales from the Borderlands, which was developed by Telltale Games instead of Gearbox, has been mostly spared.

The bombing was enough to prompt a response from Gearbox head Randy Pitchford, who lamented that Steam wasn't doing enough to stop the flood of negative reviews. Shortly after, and possibly in response, Valve made its first use of an anti-bombing tool it had recently announced. The resulting user review pages maintain the negative reviews, but don't count them in the aggregate score, and warns potential viewers that the scores may be impacted by outside events.

Borderlands 3 will be exclusive to the Epic Store until April 2020, giving it a six-month window that is shorter than many of the year-long exclusivity periods. The release date of September 13 had leaked before the official announcement, and in that leak a video also showed an Epic Store logo, conspicuously without a Steam logo.

As part of the suite of announcements surrounding Borderlands 3, Gearbox also announced a remastered Game of the Year Edition for the original game, and a 4K texture pack for the other two. Borderlands 2 also had its various pieces of DLC brought into Borderlands VR.

The latest in the loot-shooter series from Gearbox appears similar to prior entries, right down to having a cast of four diverse Vault Hunters with different abilities. Whether you pick it up on PC or elsewhere, Gearbox is looking into supporting cross-play. For more details, including the loot you can gain by putting down your money early, check out our pre-order guide.

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Avatar image for Aryanith
Aryanith

Good one GS. Don't even mention the irrelevant fact that evil-evil Epic only takes 10% of generated revenue from the developers as opposed to good old Steam that takes 30%. Dear review-bombers, go and eat a bag of d*cks (ducks, obviously).

Avatar image for Jinzo_111887
Jinzo_111887

@Aryanith: No, you're thinking of Discord, Epic takes 12%. However, it's also what I find odd. If it was about the percentage, they should be on Discord, too. From what I can tell, it's more like Epic is bribing them with cash up front to get first dibs so they don't have to compete.

Avatar image for King_Pazuzu
King_Pazuzu

@Jinzo_111887: Probably because the difference between 10 and 12 percent is insignificant compared to 12 and 30. EPIC is also more widely used than discord so they're not gonna sell much even if they make slighlty more profit.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@Aryanith: So you think everyone should stop selling games on PlayStation and Xbox too, then? If not, you have no argument as to why you think this game shouldn't launch on Steam like all the previous games in the series did.

Avatar image for Aryanith
Aryanith

my argument is that in article the 'journalist' forgot to mention a very important fact, as in why AAA publishers migrate to Epic's (so far)less greedy platform. And indeed, it will launch on Steam eventually. People are crying over having to install yet another launcher. For free. It's not like having to buy a ps4 if you want to play console- exclusive games.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@Aryanith: That doesn't make it okay, though. You think the only reason people play on PS4 is because they don't have money to buy an Xbox or vice versa?

Everyone, or most people anyway, have a platform they prefer to play games on. Or a platform they prefer to own certain games on, or whatever it is. There's no reason a game like Borderlands 3 shouldn't release on every major platform at the same time. The publisher just got greedy with the distribution of this game, and we have a choice whether we want to support that or not.

Avatar image for Aryanith
Aryanith

@Tiwill44: So..it's not Steam that's greedy for asking 3 times as much as Epic, it's Gearbox for changing for a better deal. Okay.

Avatar image for Cyber_Akuma
Cyber_Akuma

@Aryanith: Pot calling the Kettle black much? I notice you didn't mention that Steam lowers their cut down to 20%, or that other stores which nobody uses also have a small if not smaller cut.

A 30% cut is the industry standard, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft still have that cut on their consoles. Notice that you never heard about publishers complaining about this cut despite smaller cuts existing on other places long before Epic until Epic showed up and started advocating their cut as part of their P.R. campaign. And despite all this, Steam still lowers their cut down to 20% for games that sell well (Which Borderlands 3 on Steam would be guaranteed to do), so that's a mere 8% difference. Quick! What's 8% more of 0? A bigger cut means JACK if you have significantly less people purchasing on that platform.

This is ALL about Epic bribing publishers to be exclusive to their platform, it's not about the cut, if it was they could have gone to the other strorefronts that offer them a bigger cut years before Epic created their store.... they don't because it was never about the cut, it was ALWAYS about the bribe. Anyone arguing about the cut is arguing purely on ignorance and having fallen for Epic's fake P.R.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@Aryanith: Gearbox had no say in this. The publisher is 2K/Take-Two. But yes, they are greedy towards the Steam userbase.

Borderlands is actually the first game I bought on Steam, along with TF2. And I bought 2 and the Pre-Sequel on launch on there too. The fact that 3 won't release on Steam is a betrayal of trust.

Now, why did they betray? Because they were bribed with upfront money. And because they thought people would shell out the money on EGS instead of Steam just because it's "also on PC". They think Steam is just a place we go to buy a game and nothing more. Well, it's not. It's as much of an important platform as PlayStation and Xbox are, and its users don't deserve to get shafted for no reason. The revenue split is not a valid argument because 30% is the standard across all platforms.

I bet if Epic had enough money, they'd also bribe Take-Two into delaying the console versions so that the only place you can buy Borderlands 3 on is EGS. This is some world domination type evil.

Avatar image for knighttwin1
knighttwin1

Wow people are bitching over a timed exclusive on pc shit never thought I'd hear the day pc gamers would bitch about exclusivity what so ever. On console we have seen this over and over again so it is nothing new and several games are even permanent exclusives that would never reach our chosen console. On top of that it isn't even a true timed exclusive because you can still purchase it on pc via Epic's store. Epic obviously gave them more then just a bigger cut of the sales they probably paid a huge bribe to keep it off steam for 6 months because Gearbox/2k could lose money out of the deal as well being that Steam is a way bigger distributor. Then the way you fight back is review bomb games that have been out for years and people already played which are well known good games. So the review bombing wouldn't accomplish anything at all . If they were actually new games as in released recently maybe it would make an actual difference. Those who claim monopolizing shit exclusives have always been the name of the game for consoles it is called competition in where they are constantly competing for gamers to chose their system and their games this is no different other it is two free distribution platforms. Most people are even completely ignoring the fact it is still coming to steam but 6 months later. Timed exclusives I can agree suck but there is nothing preventing you from picking it up on Epic's store other then preference of store front.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@knighttwin1: What do you gain by defending timed exclusives? You said you agree that they suck, so why support them? They'll just keep happening if we don't boycott.

Avatar image for knighttwin1
knighttwin1

@Tiwill44: That's the thing it isn't a true timed exclusive pc still gets the game on release date just not on steam. I'm not defending timed exclusives when this isn't a real one because it is released for pc on launch day. You want to boycott their choice to delay its release on steam just don't buy it till then. Review bombing old games that they already made their money from isn't going to accomplish anything. Now if they had a new game out that released very recently with a low overall review count yea you would stand a chance of doing some damage. Basically if they really want their voice to be heard do something that would actually do some damage like refusing to buy bl3 till it is released on steam or going to the forums or social media. Time exclusives suck and are a bad practice but like I said as far as it being released on pc there is no time exclusive lock unless your going to wait for it to release on steam. If we really wanted it to stop we would need to hit the industry as whole from continuing releasing any type of exclusives but that may never disappear but we have been making strides towards it with cross play.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@knighttwin1: "You want to boycott their choice to delay its release on Steam, just don't buy it till then."

That wouldn't accomplish anything. All it would do is tell 2K/Take-Two that we don't mind waiting 6 months for their games to come to Steam. We don't mind being treated like second-rate customers, we'll buy your game full price when it eventually comes out, no problem!

The reason people review bomb the older games is to warn others that buying *any* of the Borderlands games after this news is not a good idea, because it would send the message that we're ok with them ditching a platform after 3 games for literally no reason.

Avatar image for knighttwin1
knighttwin1

@Tiwill44: Lol think they are treating people who use steam as second-rate customers how about all the other exclusives out there so everyone is a second rate customer according to your logic because there has been plenty of timed exclusives in the past be it a game or dlc. Look it is just another timed exclusive though in this case a to purchase timed exclusive if you choose to wait for steam this is not that serious. Also waiting to purchase on steam would show them that people don't want to buy it off the epic store but as usual would need plenty of people to follow that otherwise as you said nothing would be accomplished. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from purchasing it from the Epic store on release. It's like this is the first time pc players saw exclusivity and are now just complaining about it. Look I would accept your view if they obviously weren't paid for it that is how it works with timed exclusives it is not just oh we are just going to wait 6months to release on steam for shits and giggles it has been done before by Microsoft and Sony where they paid for the games or dlc being exclusive for a period of time. It is not just a bigger cut they pay the publisher/developer extra money for those timed exclusivity rights because any publisher/developer would be plain stupid to try not to release their game on as many platforms as possible at release to get the biggest return as quick as possible. It is all about money and Epic obviously paid big for it to be 6months because most other timed exclusives I personally experienced were much shorter and longest was a month so must have been some serious dough.

That is just the thing how are you actually reaching anyone? Who goes and re-reads the reviews of games that were released years ago I sure never have of all the time I have been playing games. I am a picky gamer and read reviews all the time but that is always around release and maybe a month or two after. Plus like I already said they got their money for those already so your not hurting anything at all.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@knighttwin1: The first Borderlands just got remastered though, and a sequel to it (3) was announced. So, anyone interested in playing Borderlands for the first time or replaying it in preparation for the sequel will see the negative reviews on the store page and wonder what's up. After reading them, they might change their mind about buying the game or the sequel. This hurts the publisher, which is the whole point.

Paid timed exclusives are never good for the consumer, and so we should never support them. There was a lot of backlash when Rise of the Tomb Raider was a timed Xbox exclusive and it was perfectly warranted. And then guess what, the sequel was not a timed exclusive. Because it's a dumb thing to do. It's not something that benefits anyone other than the two companies who agreed to the deal. (And with the backlash, it arguably doesn't benefit them either.)

Avatar image for knighttwin1
knighttwin1

@Tiwill44: You don't seem to understand when I say they already made their money off these games. The original borderlands was released in 2009 and this remaster was mainly made for the current fans because they already remastered borderlands 2 and the per-squel which were bigger hits then the original. Then you have borderland 2 which was released in 2012, the per-squel 2014, and finally the handsome jack collection in 2015. So if you think anything you say now is going effect anything it will be on deaf ears. Review bombing their games basically pointless and won't accomplish anything. A good chunk of people play these games on consoles as well so unless your taking your time to post on their reviews as well your not reaching much of an audience but even then again deaf ears because console players don't have the problem of having to chose between market places. Overall your not hurting the publisher what so ever.

If the game was just on pc maybe you might hurt the publisher but that is not the case. Most pc players are used to waiting for a delayed release on top of that because a good chunk of developers though most going full multi-plaform lately would make a pc port further down the line.

Wont ever see a change in this problem till the overall industry moves away from exclusivity all together because this time exclusive junk is going to get more and more popular because most of the industry is moving to full multi platform for every game so guess how their going to start to compete when exclusives are gone they will go full throttle on timed exclusives. Exclusives is one of the main selling points for all consoles including pc. Basically this is going to get much worse before it starts to get better.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@knighttwin1: I disagree, but do you have a better solution to stop timed exclusives then? Because I can't think of any. The only way publishers will stop is if we hit their paycheck. We can do that by hurting their reputation through word of mouth. Review bombing is part of that process, because you don't need to go deep into some forum to see it; it's right there on the store page for everyone to see.

Avatar image for knighttwin1
knighttwin1

@Tiwill44: Not much can be done to stop it with platforms always competing for your time and money. There is always a few haters and a few bad reviews isn't going to change the mind of their established fan base. Having the review bombing being reported like this even further dismisses any reviews you make because people are going to see it and think look another review bomber. Also Steam is stepping in and fighting review bombing so good luck.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@knighttwin1: So you have no solution. I think we should be doing whatever we can to stop bad business practices from becoming commonplace. Review bombing and boycotting is better than nothing.

I mean, personally all I'm gonna do is blacklist any publisher who pulls this sort of thing. But I'm certainly not against people who want to do more than that.

Avatar image for knighttwin1
knighttwin1

@Tiwill44: There is no clear solution we can say they just don't do it but as long as exclusivity exists anywhere in the video game industry there will always a chance someone else will practice timed exclusivity again. Like I mentioned before unless the root problem of exclusives is addressed this will never go away. You should be happy they even are going to release it to Steam. What happens if 2k sees the review bombing as people don't want their game on steam then pulls it from releasing from steam all together? Will you still think your review bombing was worth it? It's unlikely to happen that way but not saying it isn't impossible either.

Avatar image for Ducez_III
Ducez_III

It would appear that a lot of the comments here are anti-activism. It's okay to voice your opinion if you don't like something, review bombing is just another form of that. If they hadn't have done it than we wouldn't be reading this article right now, and we wouldn't know that there was unrest within the Borderlands/ Steam community.

Avatar image for King_Pazuzu
King_Pazuzu

This is pathetic. All those idiot fanboys are simply just discouraging new Borderlands players from buying the older ones if they see negative reviews, which has nothing to do with the quality of these games. If you're angry then post your anger on several forums or social media sites.

Avatar image for jenilya
Jenilya

Petty people being petty and review bombing. This is why I'm glad Epic doesn't have a review system, because this is what people do with Steam reviews.

Avatar image for Jinzo_111887
Jinzo_111887

@jenilya: Except this wasn't just some accident. The publishers/developers did something to trigger these things. In this case, the cause can be attributed to the exclusivity deal with Epic keeping Steam users waiting 6 months instead of launching at the same time.

Avatar image for jenilya
Jenilya

@Jinzo_111887:
It doesn't change the fact that it is a petty reason to review bomb the game. People are going to trash all these great games because they are bitter over a timed exclusive? It is the definition of petty. There is just some sort of irony here. People complain about it not coming to Steam, and then proceed to abuse the Steam review system and basically highlight one of the main flaws with the system. Steam is an unmoderated wasteland and Valve really doesn't care.

Avatar image for beantownsean
BeantownSean

People complained Steam was a monopoly and wanted them to have competition, well...enjoy.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@beantownsean: People are dumb. Steam was never a monopoly.

Avatar image for Cyber_Akuma
Cyber_Akuma

@beantownsean: Except this is the opposite of competition, there are many many explanations everywhere as to EXACTLY why.... but I kinda get the feeling you aren't interested in facts and just want to rile people up.

Avatar image for jenilya
Jenilya

@Cyber_Akuma:
It's funny because people like you who always bring this up don't want to hear facts from the other side either. You are just on some righteous crusade to protect Steam and don't care if you are wrong.

Avatar image for Cyber_Akuma
Cyber_Akuma

@jenilya: Nice Ad Hominem, you almost managed to make people not notice the fact that you provided no counter-argument whatsoever and instead just attacked me.

Avatar image for jenilya
Jenilya

@Cyber_Akuma:
Sounds more so like you can't counter what anyone is saying to you and you're just playing the victim card. Nice try though.

Avatar image for Cyber_Akuma
Cyber_Akuma

@jenilya: You realize that you didn't counter anything and instead were the one just playing victim by attacking people, right? Tell me, is this going to turn into a "No, you!" back and fourth now?

Avatar image for beantownsean
BeantownSean

@Cyber_Akuma:

Please provide those "many many" explanations that are the exact opposite of completion.

From what I can tell, Epic is undercutting Valve...plain and simple. When I have something on ebay I really want move quickly, I undercut usually the cheapest seller to move my item.

Do I make the most on my sale? no...but I move my item usually sells in hours. You need to either provide some detail as to why this isn't competition or you need to brush up on some business practices.

Personally I don't care...Epic has always been one of my favorite Developers since the UT days.

Avatar image for saint311
saint311

@Cyber_Akuma: How is it the opposite of competition? Do you know what defines "competition"?

Avatar image for Jinzo_111887
Jinzo_111887

@saint311: Epic is paying so your only choice is to download the game from the Epic game store. That's not competition, it's a monopoly.

Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@saint311: Epic is bribing publishers into not releasing their games on Steam. This can only be described as competition if you also expect Valve to bribe publishers into not releasing their games on EGS.

We don't want this kind of "competition", because then you're just competing to be the most petty store, rather than competing to be the store most people want to buy games from, which is what Steam is at the moment.

Avatar image for mcsug4r
Mcsug4r

@beantownsean: I mean it, I enjoy that. It's also fun to watch people go rage over it.

Avatar image for starjay009
starjay009

All these cry babies review bombing 2 incredible games - BL1 and 2 for no apparent reason other than a future BL title won't be on STEAM for the foreseeable future . Pathetic and SHAME on you all.... each and every one of you. I too am frustrated BL3 is not coming to Steam (for now)... but I always have a plan B which is to play the game on my X1X. OR, I wait patiently until 2020 and get it on Steam since I have too much of a backlog of games I am YET to even play. I am sure many of you are in the same situation as I am. This entitled crappy attitude is what's costing us quality games. It's either review bombing senselessly OR putting out idiotic online petitions for bringing games to the PC. Shame shame.... go back to grade school kiddos.

Avatar image for Barighm
Barighm

@starjay009: Actually, it will be on Steam in the foreseeable future. 6 months is quite short for an exclusivity deal.

Avatar image for thefuse1032
thefuse1032

@Barighm: They already mentioned it in their paragraph?... did you not read their comment? "(for now"

Avatar image for Talinthis
Talinthis

thats pretty pathetic review bombing other games.. any and all associated accounts should just be banned. yes i am still pissed but doing shit like that is just being stupid.

Avatar image for kalarro
kalarro

@Talinthis:

"any and all associated accounts should just be banned"

No, the contrary. Any game with epic exclusivity should be banned from being released in steam whatsoever.

Avatar image for mcsug4r
Mcsug4r

@kalarro: that would be even better for Epic store. :)

Avatar image for Talinthis
Talinthis

@kalarro: no, thats just dumb. having a temper tantrum over a unreleased game and destroying the reviews of much older games is pretty pointless and deserves punishment for being such an idiot, review bombing borderlands 2 or hte like because of a borderlands 3 announcement.. there are other more effective ways to get points across. sadly some developers have no choice of where their game goes however. the publisher pays for it, they decide. i dont know the case here it could very well be the reason.

also that would never happen on steam. they dont spite games just because they chose a different platform. money is money and they will sell it when they get it. they have more common sense than the average person.

Avatar image for kalarro
kalarro

@Talinthis: It's not temper. It's the only way, that they dont see it as free money, but as something having a consequence.

Avatar image for starjay009
starjay009

@kalarro: It's called capitalism for a reason.

Avatar image for kalarro
kalarro

@starjay009: ofc, we are just adding a consequence for their actions.

Avatar image for saint311
saint311

@kalarro: consequences for what actions? And why?