The Genius Model of Borderlands 2

I’ve talked about gaming addiction before in relation to loot-based games like Diablo, but I haven’t really touched on the business end of it. From the standpoint of developers, they want players to play their game for as long as possible because that shows that they created a great product. However, most of gaming is pushed by money, not self congratulating accolades. Many games are made to addict players, but few games actually know how to capitalize on this addiction. The biggest problem is that those games that do properly capitalize on this facet of gaming are usually the absolute worst offenders  of trash such as Zynga, or are clearly abusing their position to try to milk money from gamers at the cost of the game itself such as Blizzard with its real money auction house. Gearbox is one of the few developers out there that have made a game series that is 1. addicting, 2. properly capitalized 3. a fully realized game,, and 4. not milking gamers. Today we are going to look at these four points and see why Borderlands 2’s business model is incredible.

What’s that? I have Resident Evil 6 to finish and review? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Firstly let’s look at Borderlands 2’s level of addictiveness. Borderlands 2 is a loot-based game, which inherently makes it addicting. Millions of guns to find, different rarities and effectivenesses, fifty levels, elements, skill points, four (now five) unique classes, Borderlands 2 really runs the gamut for addictive elements. All of these elements work in conjunction with each other to keep the player coming back for more. The fact that every chest opened could lead to the player obtaining one of the coveted orange level items is enough to keep many people playing. Those that are more preoccupied by the basic leveling and skill points system have lots to play for as harder difficulties emerge upon beating the game, giving them harder enemies, and thus more experience. In reality, there is plenty for everyone.
Now every loot chest comes with a puppy! Addiction 34 – Me 0
However, this does not mean that most people are going to play forever. Sure, there are people who would play Borderlands 2 for years on these elements alone, but Gearbox has done so much more. Today, several weeks since the release of the game, Gearbox released a brand new character, the Mechromancer. Most games nowadays are meant to be devoured quickly before the gamer moves onto the next one. However, by releasing a steady stream of new content, a clever developer can keep players in their game world for far longer than it would normally be possible. Take the Mechromancer for example. With the release of Resident Evil 6, Dishonoured, and Pokemon Black and White 2, many gamers have moved on. However, even this minor piece of DLC is enough to bring a significant portion of gamers back to Pandora. If Gearbox is quick enough and consistent enough with DLC, it can keep gamers on Borderlands 2 for far longer than most of them would ever think to spend on the game.
This is exactly as addictive as Borderlands 2, with five times the longevity.
Of course how exactly does Gearbox profit from this you may ask? After all, games like Civilization are addictive as hell, but the best they can hope for is expansion purchases. Well that is pretty much it. DLC is where the money is and the longer and more often you can keep players playing your game, the more likely it is that they will invest in your DLC. Call of Duty uses a similar model by a gradual and steady stream of map packs. Sure they could release all of the maps at once or even with the original release of the game, but this way they can turn a bigger profit while simultaneously keeping gamers playing their  crack simulator.  
For only a small investment you can shoot 11 year olds in different identical brown corridors!
The last two point sort of go hand and hand. The worst thing that any developer can do is to sell gamers an incomplete game and then sell them DLC to fix their game later. This has been a controversy as companies like Capcom have been selling games with DLC already on the disk. This is also a reason why I won’t even begin to trust free to play games, so don’t expect to ever see a League of Legends post even though they aren’t a major offender. However, unlike so many Street Fighters, and Capcom Versus ____ games, Borderlands 2 is a complete game. Without spending a single dime, or getting endlessly pressured to buy DLC, a gamer can buy Borderlands 2, and get a full experience out of it. With so many shooters relying on the addictiveness of multiplayer to pad out their lousy gaming experiences, it is good to see someone use the addictive properties of games for good. 
It’s sad that Street Fighter is know for being an excellent fighting game, and for milking gamers out of their money.
The final feather in Borderlands 2’s proverbial cap is that Gearbox is not milking gamers at all. Many, many gamers will be getting the Mechromancer completely for free for preordering the game. Those that didn’t preorder won’t have to wait many months for a release, but can buy the new character for $10. While this isn’t the cheapest, the character is an incentive for preorders so the price point makes sense. However, what is more important is the future DLC. Borderlands 1 had some of the best DLC ever released, to the extent that two of the pieces of DLC were better than the main game itself. The release of DLC in this regard is not the same as milking gamers with map packs or costumes. Players aren’t paying for cosmetics, they are paying for substantial additions to the gameplay, and that is exactly what DLC should be about. 
Seriously make DLC half as good as this and you have me sold.
It is easy to say that Borderlands as a series is Diablo II with guns. In many ways that is the model that Gearbox took when creating the comprehensive loot and skill system. However, Blizzard never fully capitalized on Diablo II’s insane staying power, while Borderlands 2 looks like it has a lot of money making potential. What makes this all the sweeter for gamers is that we received a great game full of memorable characters and tons of stuff to do, and they are feeding our addiction with substantial, worthwhile releases instead of the tripe that we have come to expect from most DLC. If every developer took Borderlands 2’s business model to heart, gamers would play each game a lot longer, companies would make a good profit, and gamers wouldn’t feel like they were being cheated by subpar DLC, or piecemeal games. 
– Mistranslation for the Modern Gamer
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