You might have noticed that Borderlands 3 reviews started appearing online yesterday, but only at select publications. What happened was that publisher 2K Games refused to grant several outlets the opportunity to review the new installment by citing security concerns. The ones who did get early access were not even sent a copy of the full game. Instead, reviewers were given special Epic Games Store accounts that were pre-loaded with a work-in-progress build of Borderlands 3 alongside a few warnings about unstability.
Publishers normally send out review codes a few weeks before the official launch, which gives reviewers ample time to play the game. 2K Games did so in limited capacity because the reviews that did make it online were not even of the final build. In addition, the publications that were left out were promised a free copy a day before the official launch. This naturally means that by the time their review will be out, Borderlands 3 will have already been through its first week.
The whole situation is bizarre and from the looks of it, 2K Games intentionally arranged all of this to micromanage the average Borderlands 3 review scores. In their latest podcast, Giant Bomb co-founder and editor Jeff Gerstmann claimed that a 2K Games representative categorically refused to send any review copy in advance due to Giant Bomb’s past coverage. It was not about security concerns but rather the risk of getting a low score.
When we inquired about it we were not told ‘hey, there are security concerns’, we were told – and I’m paraphrasing here – but we were told by a 2k PR representative that based on the sentiment of our E3 coverage that they were going to send it to us closer to launch.
It’s not the first time that 2K Games has done something shrewd like this. Back in 2013, the publisher gave IGN the exclusive opportunity to publish its BioShock Infinite review before everyone else — basically, an embargo before an embargo. The situation with Borderlands 3 is even worse because there are several renowned publications that have already reviewed the game. Borderlands 3 does look like it deserves a high score but with the present shade, you might as well think that there’s some degree of bias in those early reviews.
Borderlands 3 is scheduled to release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 13, 2019. The PC version will be exclusive to Epic Games Store and won’t release on Steam until April 13, 2020.