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Borderlands 3 may not be as successful as it's portrayed to be

Published: 15:51, 24 December 2019
Epic Games
screenshot showing psycho bandit from borderlands 3 in fortnite crossover event
Fortnite x Borderlands 3

SuperData recently revealed that Borderlands 3 sold roughly 3.3 million copies in September 2019, which would normally be a huge success. However, this marks lower growth than what Borderlands 2 had over the original.

Borderlands 3 launched on 13 September 2019 and 10 days later, 2K Games came out with a statement that the game was a huge success, pointing out various not-really-transparent stats that testified to those claims. 

Readers of the press release soon became suspicious though since the stats seemed cherry-picked and too vague. For example, one statement revealed Borderlands 3 sold-in five million copies. Another statistic pointed out that Borderlands 3 sold 50 per cent more copies in the first five days compared to Borderlands 2.

Both of these statistics are vague enough to portray an immense growth without revealing any exact info. Sold-in refers to copies shipped to retailers, not the ones that were actually sold. The 50 per cent growth in the first five days evidently shows more copies were sold but doesn't take into account the gaming industry's overall spending growth between 2012 and 2019 . It was $82.8 billion in 2012 and $152.1 billion in 2018, marking a growth of 183 per cent.

Enter SuperData, with the September 2019 report on worldwide digital games market which revealed that Borderlands 3 sold around 3.3 million copies during the launch month.

While 3.3 million copies sold would be considered great success in normal circumstances, Borderlands 3 was hyped up for a reason - it's a blockbuster title and as such, that many sales may not be enough.

Borderlands 3, backwater swampland of new planet Eden-6

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A man with an axe running through a forest in SCUM
Borderlands 3

In fact, percentage growth is lower for Borderlands 3 over its predecessor than it was for Borderlands 2. The first sequel had a 234 per cent sales growth during the launch month over the original, while Borderlands 3 saw "only" 225 per cent growth. This paints a different picture on Borderlands 3's success and its interpretations, just like fiddling with terms such as "sold-in" and actual copies sold does.

To be fair to the latest game in the series, the growth in actual units sold is still much better than that of Borderlands 2 vs Borderlands. The first game sold around 633,000 copies in the first month, Borderlands 2 stood at 1.48 million and Borderlands 3 is at 3.3 million.

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