Epic Paid $115 Million For The Borderlands 3 Exclusive

Illustration for article titled Epic Paid $115 Million For The Borderlands 3 Exclusive
Screenshot: Take Two/Gearbox

As the bizarro-world bunfight between Epic and Apple enters its second day in court, more extraordinary information is coming out in court documents. Like, how Epic paid Take-Two/Gearbox one hundred and fifteen million dollars for the exclusive rights to sell Borderlands 3.

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In a document entitled “Epic Games Store: Review of Performance and Strategy, October 25, 2019", so very many juicy details can be found. As yesterday’s incredible numbers showed, Epic has been paying publishers and developers big figures for their weekly freebies. Another titbit to be found is an example of how much Epic forks out for its Steam-busting PC exclusives.

From the 2018 launch of the still half-finished Epic Games Store, Epic has been luring/infuriating PC game players away from Steam by securing exclusive rights to sell big-name (and small-name) games. While grumblings arose over the likes of Hades and Ashen, it was Metro Exodus’s year-long deal that garnered major headlines and fury. A situation that continued to grow completely out of control during 2019 until everyone seemed to get bored of being angry about it last year, especially during a pandemic. In the midst of that fray was Borderlands 3, which Epic managed to sign a six-month-long exclusive deal for, despite so many people having pre-ordered or wishlisted it on Steam.

And pissing off all those people didn’t come cheap. In the court documents, it’s revealed that Epic paid $115 million for the right to be the only store selling Borderlands 3 for half a year. A number that might sound like madness until you find out they made most of it back in the first two weeks of sale.

Illustration for article titled Epic Paid $115 Million For The Borderlands 3 Exclusive
Image: Epic Games

As you can see in the image above, they didn’t stop there. They paid a further $31 million for a bundle deal that incorporated Civilization and previous Borderlands’ own Handsome Collection.

In two weeks, the whole of the $80 million “minimum guarantee” was recouped. But perhaps more importantly to Epic, 53% of those who bought it were new to their store. Which is to say, at least half of the game’s customers might have bought it on Steam if they could have. Exactly what Epic was aiming for.

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It’s fair to say the Borderlands deal worked out quite well.
It’s fair to say the Borderlands deal worked out quite well.
Image: Epic Games

As Nathan detailed yesterday, Epic’s astonishing spending on weekly freebies has also proven to convert to extraordinarily cheap customer acquisition numbers. Although the 11 and a half million spent on those in 2018/19 is pocket change compared to what all those exclusives must have cost. Heck, they’re a twelfth of what they paid for just Borderlands!

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If you’re left wondering how Epic could possibly have ever been able to afford to gamble such vast figures on exclusives, the answer was also revealed in court yesterday with the revelation that, in 2018/19, Fortnite made over $9 billion. Which is to say, Epic is paying for these deals out of the change Fortnite loses down the back of its couch.

Here’s hoping even more industry secrets come pouring out of this ridiculous court case and that in the end, both sides somehow lose.

Seeker of indie secrets, needlessly beautiful, purveyor of www.buried-treasure.org.

DISCUSSION

I assume at some point they will be content and stop paying all this money for exclusives or will it be an ongoing thing? I personally don’t mind waiting to buy games until they are on Steam but at some point I would assume enough people will accept Epic that they wouldn’t need to spend all this money. Who knows though. Steam apparently doesn’t feel too threatened.