Last week the gaming news interwebs were illuminated with the news that Gearbox Interactive, the creators behind what many would argue is this generation’s best kept secret in Borderlands, were not only hard at work at Borderlands 2 but that it would be ready for a launch in fiscal 2013 (as early as April 2012). The always talkative Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, who has been dodging questions about the title’s existence at every turn addressed the news as “shoddy journalism” because Eurogamer broke the story but it was GameInformer magazine who was supposed to have the exclusive reveal. Not only is this complete non-sense, but just further points out why gaming print is dead.
Let me just say that I am one of those people who would run to the newsstand as soon as the latest issue of EGM (that’s Electronic Gaming Monthly for you youngin’s out there) was out as I couldn’t wait to read it from cover to cover. And of course I would always start with Dan “Shoe” Hsu’s monthly editorial. There was a certain feeling of touching actual paper, turning the pages, and checking out all of the latest screenshots and previews that makes me miss it to this day — but you know what? Thanks to the internet I no longer have to wait around for the latest issue, and neither should you.
Its nothing against all of the talented men and women behind the magazine or other printed magazines like it. But in a world where news travels in 140 characters or less, this notion of giving print the big fat exclusive is almost laughable and at certain points even unrealistic. People want to know things yesterday, and for gamers you can add a week to that.
You may be wondering to yourself the following. Out of all the outlets that could have recieved the exclusive, what makes Game Informer so special? Why not go online first with a site like IGN or a blog like Kotaku… what about DualShockers? Well here’s one really good reason to go on. For the next 30 days or so every person that enters a Gamestop will be shown this issue which Borderlands 2 just so happens to be gracing the cover. Whether the customer already subscribes or not, they are now aware that Borderlands 2 is a thing, and since they’re conveniently in a Gamestop it also happens to be a thing they can plunk 5 dollars on for pre-order. These kinds of marketing plans are the only reason why print is still clinging to life.
So you see the marketing direction made by Gearbox and 2K is pretty well thought out and calculated. And as much as Pitchford denied the game’s existence, the marketing wheels were turning way before probably even GDC. But at that time they still had a crappy Duke Nukem Forever to ship. Fast forward to last week where Eurogamer caught wind of the new title. They didn’t sign an NDA (because they didn’t have to) and went ahead and reported on it (as they should) then they get called out as being “shoddy” for delivering accurate news.
The only thing that’s shoddy here is the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” deals going on with publishers and the print magazines. It’s simple, if you’re a publisher and you don’t want your NDA broken, then you go to an online publication, it’s really that simple. Print is dead. In the mean time, instead of talking down journalists, Gearbox should focus on making sure Borderlands 2 is the best game it can be, unlike it’s most recent “shoddy” 12 year-old unfinished one.