Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford thinks that the Borderlands 3 Epic Games Store exclusivity deal will be the start of a massive change in the gaming industry, according to a series of tweets the president of the company fired off into the void over the course of this past weekend. Pitchford is no stranger to lengthy speeches—anyone familiar with the Borderlands 3 reveal event at PAX East just under a month ago will know that the Gearbox boss has a penchant for saying what's on his mind.
Borderlands 3 was the center of controversy when it was announced the game would be skipping Valve's Steam platform for the first six months of its release, with publisher 2K Games deciding to enter into an exclusivity deal with the fledgling Epic Games Store. It's a big get for Epic, a company with more than enough money to fund a successful digital distribution platform that simply needs major games to choose its service. For Borderlands 3, however, it was a decidedly more middling affair—while some people had no issue with the decision, some decided to review bomb Borderlands 2 while attempting to protest a move that was inexplicably being called unfair.
Pitchford began his weekend tweetstorm by reminding fans that, while he apparently has "some influence" on the process, the choice of Borderlands 3 Epic Games Store exclusivity ultimately fell to 2K Games. He also wasn't shy in acknowledging that the Epic Games Store is lacking a number of the features that players find appealing about Steam, but Pitchford then suggested Epic's roadmap for its online store, while already enticing, was likely not even the entirety of features that will be added over the coming months. With all the caveats out of the way, Pitchford began to illustrate why he believes Steam is no longer the future of gaming, and why Borderlands 3 could be the catalyst in changing the game industry as we know it:
From a track record point of view, my expectation is that Epic’s investment in technology will outpace Valve’s substantially. When we look back at Steam in five or ten years, it may look like a dying store and other, competitive stores, will be the place to be.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) April 13, 2019
And in a world where EA and ATVI cannot really be the ones to take the risk to help the forcing function happen, Take Two shows some balls and steps up with our game, Borderlands 3, to be the content that catalyzes this moment. Holy shit. What a world.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) April 13, 2019
To be fair, Pitchford was not attempting to assert that it was solely the Borderlands 3 Epic Games Store exclusivity deal that would bring about these changes. Rather, the Gearbox boss was insistent that having major releases like Borderlands 3 as early adopters of Epic's platform would help bolster it during its most vulnerable periods after launch, helping to establish a legitimate competitor for Steam faster. Essentially, Pitchford is making the extremely compelling argument that competition in any business sector leads to a better environment for consumers, and as Valve scrambles to appeal to developers considering leaving the platform and Epic places a high priority on customer satisfaction, that assertion already seems to be coming true. Of course, in true Pitchford fashion, he couldn't resist a little dig:
And you can bitch and moan and brigade and stalk my shit, but at the end of the day when we look back at this moment we’ll realize that this was the moment where the digital stores on PC became unmonopolized.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) April 13, 2019
The "brigade" he's discussing is likely the attempt at tearing down Borderlands on Steam, so it's fair play to a man whose franchise, which is noted for its high quality and innovative approach to shooters, has been unfairly attacked by those upset with the digital distribution landscape.
As much as Pitchford's thread can sometimes lose a bit of focus—it's a lot of tweets all at once—it makes some excellent points about why the Borderlands 3 Epic Games Store exclusivity deal is probably a good thing for gaming overall. Creating competition will give digital distribution platforms incentive to pass savings on to consumers while constantly tweaking their features and, given what a toxic hellhole Steam has become when it comes to curation policy, it's hard to imagine things getting worse as a result. We'll wait and see, but for now, Pitchford's impassioned speech has made yet another compelling case for the Epic Games Store, even if suggesting the inclusion of Borderlands 3 in its offerings will be a historic turning point in gaming is a pretty bold prediction.