Borderlands 3 has microtransactions, and Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford took to Twitter to criticize people, especially games journalists, for labeling them as such. The recent controversy stems from the Borderlands 3 gameplay reveal event that took place earlier this week, which featured Pitchford publicly stating that there wouldn't be microtransactions in the upcoming title.
This wouldn't be the first time that Pitchford has attempted to defend his statements or decisions as being victimized by biased or inaccurate reporting. During Battleborn's life cycle, Pitchford vehemently denied reports that the game would be going free-to-play, even going so far as to call the reports "reckless." Battleborn would, of course, go free-to-play just half a year later. Pitchford has cultivated a reputation as a polarizing figure within the gaming community, and he is often prone to large outbursts on Twitter. One such tweetstorm recently suggested that the Borderlands 3 Epic Games Store exclusivity deal was not just a positive, but potentially a major moment in video game history.
Unfortunately for Pitchford, the most recent controversy surrounding his statements seems much less an error in interpretation than it does a deliberately misleading redefinition of a term in "microtransactions" that has become even more polarizing than his industry status. Pitchford's comments during the Borderlands 3 gameplay reveal seemed cut-and-dry, with the Gearbox boss stating that there'd be none of them in the game, and even referring to the idea of Borderlands 3 microtransactions as "nonsense." In an interview with Game Informer, however, Gearbox's Paul Sage revealed that the game would have content that was, well, exactly what we've come to define as microtransactions:
"We're selling cosmetic items, but we're not going to nickel and dime players. DLC will come down the line, but the game won't have anything excessive."
A report from PC Gamer then confirmed that Borderlands 3 microtransactions would include gameplay-altering items like boosts to the amount of XP or loot a player receives. In short: yes, Borderlands 3 will have microtransactions, and it seems disingenuous of Pitchford to insist otherwise. Yet insist he did on Twitter, where he produced replies such as these:
Why you guys would fuck me on this is beyond me... thanks a lot.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 1, 2019
See @gameinformer - this is what your fuckwitted tweet is doing! Please correct your bullshit. This user believes and has called me a liar because of your incomplete context click bait bullshit here. You are better than this.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 1, 2019
I’m just so hurt right now, Andy. I have swallowed so much shit for so many years of folks on your side of this industry profiting off of making me out as if I’m some kind of profit-only, gamer exploiting liar.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 1, 2019
Pitchford's defense of his statement is that he prefaced it by talking about free-to-play elements, essentially implying that everyone should have known when he said "no microtransactions" that he meant none of the ones that people have come to view as predatory within the industry. That's a big intuitive leap, and it appears by all accounts that, in an effort to duck the negative publicity that often comes with the announcement of something like Borderlands 3 microtransactions, Pitchford has begun a debate over what is and is not a microtransaction in the first place. The problem is that we already know the definition and Borderlands 3's business model has them, plain and simple.
With some controversy already surrounding the decision to become an Epic Games Store exclusive, the last thing Gearbox's upcoming game needs is more negative spin on the Borderlands 3 microtransactions that will be present in the game at launch. To be completely fair, they're reasonable ones, too - time savers and cosmetics, rather than overpowered guns or something of that ilk. Just owning up to them being what they are and not launching into a Twitter tirade lambasting critics for rightfully pointing out that Borderlands 3 microtransactions exist would have likely stopped this news in its tracks, but instead, we're still talking about it days after the reveal because Pitchford continued to draw attention to it.