'Borderlands 2': The Next 'Call of Duty'?

So, in case you hadn’t heard, Borderlands 2 is coming out tomorrow. Basically, expect the gaming press to be nothing but Borderlands 2 for about the next week or so. We’ll be running an initial impressions tomorrow and a full review later this week, ourselves.

In short, it’s about to be enormously successful and a real feather in the cap of Gearbox Software, not to mention a major money-maker for 2K and probably the game that revives the currently struggling boxed games retail market. It’s so successful that you can literally download it for the PS3 day and date.

I’m happy for Gearbox and I’m looking forward to the game. I’m just a little worried about what happens next.

Gearbox and 2K are already enthusiastically firing up the DLC train: Anybody who didn’t preorder the game will have to pay $10 for a new character class, plus $10 to $15 each for DLC packs. Or you could give them $30 for the season pass.

This is unfortunately nothing new. Any game with odds of selling a lot of copies already has DLC plans in place, whether it’s dribs and drabs of new stuff every week or big packs every few months. Still, it’s annoying to hear that if I want what amounts to the best possible game, I’m expected to pre-order and pay $90. I’ll settle, thanks.

The first Borderlands sold quite well, and credit has to be given to 2K and Gearbox for marketing it carefully. You’ve had dozens of chances to play this game for pretty much dirt cheap for months, with DLC included, on pretty much any platform.

As a result, the second one is going to be a monster. Keep in mind that 2K’s preorder records include games like Grand Theft Auto IV and BioShock, and this game has blown past both of those franchises with more preorders coming in every single day. This will handily outsell the first one, likely to the tune of eight or nine million copies.

Which is officially “Let’s Milk This Cow For Every Penny” territory.

2K has a different philosophy than Activision, but they like money just like any other company and they’re happy to meddle. Much of the reports of trouble at Irrational over Bioshock Infinite were actually about 2K making demands that involve squeezing the eagle until it screams. Seriously, does anybody think multiplayer in the BioShock franchise was the idea of anybody actually developing the game?

It’s true that Borderlands is not a deep, complex franchise, but even dumb games can be ruined by greed. It’s something I hope everybody involved keeps in mind when the planning for Borderlands 3 fires up.