When Borderlands 3 was announced as an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC, the news caused a huge stir in the gaming community. The third installment in the extremely popular cooperative looter shooter game developed by Gearbox Software wouldn’t be available until much later on Valve’s Steam platform, the largest digital PC store. The game debuted on the Epic Games Store and consoles on September 13, 2019, while Steam users had to wait until March 13, 2020, exactly six months later.
It was arguably the biggest exclusive deal struck by Epic to date, and it’s probably still nearly two years later. How much did Tim Sweeney’s company have to pay for PC players to go to the store to play Borderlands 3 in the first six months of the game?
That question can be answered today, thanks to one of the many court documents unveiled as part of the ongoing Epic v. Apple lawsuit. Exhibit DX-3712 is an Epic Games Store internal “ Performance Review and Strategy ” document written on October 25, 2019, and it reveals that the deal cost approximately $ 115 million, split between $ 80 million in minimum warranty, $ 15 million in marketing commitment, and $ 20 million in non-reimbursable reimbursements.
This is in addition to some side deals with 2K, where Epic paid $ 11 million for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection and $ 20 million for Civilization VI. Both games were given away on the Epic Games Store in May 2020.
Borderlands 3’s gamble, incidentally, eventually paid off. Just two weeks after the game’s launch, Epic had basically recouped the advance with $ 77 million in revenue earned through the Epic Games Store. In total, Epic saw one and a half million Borderlands players on its platform as part of the deals, 53% of which were new to the Epic Games Store. Borderlands 3’s net income contribution was $ 9.2 million in the first two weeks alone.
The document also outlines two different plans for Epic Games Store’s continued growth, one much more aggressive than the other. The difference in exclusive deals is astonishing as the first plan outlines a strategy to pursue 156 Epic Games Store exclusives between 2021 and 2024, while the other would stop at 25.
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