A really bizarre situation concerning review copies of Borderlands 3 has surfaced.
Certain publications have reviews of the game up, but many outlets were denied access to the game. Citing security concerns, publisher 2k Games offered the outlets who were left out a copy of the game 24 hours before release. This means that by the time their reviews will be out, Borderlands 3 will have likely already been through its first week.
Kotaku specifically notes, “A representative for 2K cited security concerns and told us we’d get code for the much-anticipated loot-shooter on Thursday, September 12, the day before it launches.”
VG247 also reports they were not sent a review copy, “Publisher 2K has only sent early code to a select number of US outlets, citing security concerns.”
What’s even more bizarre, is that the outlets who did get a copy of the game, didn’t even get the full game. Reviewers were given special Epic Games Store accounts pre-loaded with a work-in-progress build of Borderlands 3, alongside warnings about instability.
Normally, publishers send out a review key or review copy of a game 2 weeks to a month prior to its release. This is so that reviewers have time to play the game thoroughly enough to post a comprehensive review. (Related: #BoycottBorderlands3 Trends as Streamer SupMatto Reveals Actions Taken by Take-Two Interactive Against Him for Borderlands 3 Leaks)
In this case, the reviews that made it online are not even of a finished build. This begs the question: Did 2k Games intentionally arrange this to control the average review scores of Borderlands 3?
It sure looks like they want a rock solid Metacritic score. Giant Bomb co-founder and editor Jeff Gerstmann claimed that a 2K Games representative refused to send any review copy in advance due to Giant Bomb’s past coverage.
He eludes to it in a clip from Giant Bomb’s most recent podcast, where he says, “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 they were going to send it to us a little closer to launch.” They add, “They wanted to micromanage reviews for a good Day 1 Metacritic.”
This is certainly not the first time there’s been a review controversy in big entertainment recently, and it won’t be the last. (Related: SyFy Wire’s Dany Roth Admits to Creating Positive Reviews in Order to Maintain Access While Discussing Captain Marvel’s Rotten Tomatoes Controversy)
It’s hard to fathom why 2K Games would do this, considering the fact that Borderlands as a series has been wildly successful so far. One would think that given its track record, Borderlands 3 was pretty much a lock to ace early reviews on its own merit.
If anything, with the way this situation has played out, the game may be in danger of reviewer bias when the rest of gaming media gets ahold of it. Stay tuned to see how this plays out, gamers.
Borderlands 3 currently has an 85 Metacritic Score.
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