How Borderlands 2 Illustrates Changing Content and Involvement

As you may have guessed, some of us here are seriously digging Borderlands 2.  I’m enjoying it and am currently on the first DLC campaign AND running a second game with a DLC character.  Jose penned his own love letter to it when it first came out (where did he get the time?).  All things aside, it’s a great game, filled with references, and has a crazy cute robot named Claptrap who at one point threatens to violate a villain’s corpse.

Really, it’s great.  Also, the Commando class rules and you can’t prove me wrong.

But what’s interesting on a pro geek level, is that the game has several great lessons for those of us working in gaming and content.  Beyond the whole angry-cute-robot angle.

One of the great lessons?  Mindshare.  A lesson that shows how we need to rethink content.

Borderlands itself was a sleeper hit that kept up mindshare with some good-to-great DLC (some of which frankly was superior to the initial content).  Apparently the Gearbox gang learned their lesson as the game has a lot of DLC coming.  Consider.

First, there’s a “Season pass” that comes out promising four downloadable content packs at a discount.  A lot of people bought it – and mentally locked themselves into playing the game into June 2013 (when the last content pack was to be released).

The 9th of October an entire new character is released, the slightly cracked genius Gaige, the “Mecromancer” and her robot Deathtrap.  Anyone bored with the game could suddenly have an entirely new and interesting character (who wasn’t in the guidebooks to boot).  Interest in the game gets renewed.

Then the 16th of October a new downloadable adventure, “Captain Scarlet and Her Pirate’s Booty” came out, providing new vehicles, new adventure, and an extremely obvious joke.  Someone can play their old character, or the new character as they go and seek the Captain’s treasure.

With more downloadable content coming of course, wether you had the season pass or not (and why did I not get it?  Because I forgot.).

This means that people will be playing, re-playing, or picking up Borderlands 2 for the the next 9 months.  This means that as soon as they get bored (which is hard to do, each character plays radically different), some new content pack will come out to revive their interest.  This means people keep thinking “Borderlands 2.”

In other words, it’s a lot like what happened with DragonQuest IX, only with cute robots, random weapons, and slightly crazy robot-summoning girls.  Not only does Gearbox make money but Gearbox builds loyalty, keeps people playing, and primes folks for their next release.

(By the way, I’m hoping it’s a more Phantasy Star Online like game.  You know, in case you guys at Gearbox are reading this).

People will be living this game for a year.  Heck, I know I probably will.  Look what Skyrim did to me.

Seeing how well-planned this is, and how well it worked the first time, I think we pro geeks have to accept that DLC, e-content, and different ways of accessing that content are not just useful financially, they’re useful to create bonding with our readers/players/audience.

We don’t have to be a flash-in-the-pan, we can be a continuing part of their lives.

We don’t have to wait years for sequels, we can distribute content in different ways and keep people involved.

We can rethink our media – much as Borderlands 1 and 2 became, in a way, systems for running more content.

We can connect with people by delivering good stuff period (by the way, I am against DLC being used for delivering a half-done game.  In this case it definitely was a great game period.)

So start rethinking your media.  What ideas does this give you?

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at