Gearbox Learns the Hazards — and Benefits — of Freelancing Your Own Preorder Bonuses

Not only does Mike Neumann have a lot of loot to drop, he has a lot of loot to collect between now and Oct. 20, if Gearbox's creative director intends to fulfill the promise he made on "Official Borderlands Preorder Day."

And he does. But it'll be a haul getting there. This past Sunday, Neumann promised to play Borderlands, Gearbox's upcoming "role-playing shooter" on day one and hand out in-game moolah to anyone who sent him a picture of their preorder receipt. We saw Neumann's tweet touting the deal and sent out word, turning a barely noticed Twitter message into a full-on bumrush.

"OMFG KOTAKU DID NOT JUST DO THAT TO ME," Neumann tweeted after getting flooded with preorder claims. Then instead of learning his lesson and cutting off the deal at midnight, Neumann extended the offer a second and even a third day.

We talked with Mike after he finished tallying up and handwriting scores of PSN IDs and Xbox Live Gamertags (above).

"It's north of 200 names, for sure," Neumann said on Wednesday, with "about half of it," coming after we sent up a flare. (Celebrity entrants even included Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling)

"People are still sending me receipts and Gamertags. I wrote a few of the late people down just for fun, but I've had to turn a lot of people down or I'll never get work done again," he said. "And there's swearing robots to make!"

Neumann made his offer available to anyone who sent in visual proof that they preordered the game. His Twitter followership surged from 600 to more than 1,000 as gamers flooded his feed with screengrabs of Amazon preorders, pictures of GameStop receipts, and in-store snapshots. Four people, definitely gunning for extra credit, did a full three-platform preorder - PS3, PC and Xbox 360.

"That's dedication," Neumann said. "I also had a few people buy multiple copies on the same platform for friends. I might give those guys a few extra pieces of loot, but I like to think they're all getting special treatment in a way."

Redeeming his end of the unofficial preorder bargain is not some casual affair, like plugging in some cheat code or loading up a post-apocalyptic Santa Claus swag sack with goodies in a developer build of the game. Neumann's straight up gotta farm all this stuff himself. This will be time consuming, but not necessarily difficult, as Neumann said Borderlands "is a game where you can punch a midget's leg off and, with the right skills equipped, money might come out.

But again, "That's sort of the whole bitch of this thing, we'll actually have to collect the loot," he said. "All game rules are final, so to speak. I've already asked off of work and I still plan to play with these people. Maybe I'll just get really drunk every night so I'll be extra fun to play with. I'll probably be trying to hand out loot in ODST or something and not realize what's wrong."

Yes? Go on.

"No, for real, we got a solid plan and I'll be collecting like crazy with the days up to launch," Neumann said, quite soberly.

With more than 200 people owed playtime and loot, Neumann has enlisted some of his Gearbox colleagues to help bear the load. And though on Monday in the office "a couple people gave me shit," in a good-natured way, Neumann's happy to spend a few extra days playing Borderlands if it means spreading word about his game, a new IP fighting for airtime among sequels in a blockbuster-release season.

"I expected to see around 40 or 50 [preorders]," Neumann said. "I was looking for the super hardcore fans; I wanted to play with them. I'm glad it went down like it did. When you anticipate a result, and what happens is bigger than you expected, it puts a smile on your face."