Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a good game, however, the post-launch support feels lackluster. The DLCs from the Season Pass were nowhere near what Borderlands fans expected, also the events are not earth-shattering. You are likely wondering what’s up with Gearbox Software and why aren’t they doing a lot with this game. Let me try and shed some light on what’s going on.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a new IP and every new game has to prove itself. While it shares a lot with the Borderlands series, you should judge it as a spin-off game. If you have been following the games industry for a while, you probably know that spin-off games don’t sell as well as a true sequel in the franchise. For example, Borderlands 4 would be an easier sell than Borderlands the Pre-Sequel.
Gearbox Software and 2K Games also know this and therefore took that into account with their business case. Making a prognosis of how many units they expect to sell and what the Return on Investment (ROI) is. Yes, all boring business stuff because while they are making fun games it’s still an industry.
Borderlands 3 was expected to sell a lot of copies and they likely could continue to drive sales by offering post-launch support. Therefore, those “Free” content drops were actually calculated into their business case. It made sense to do that as they knew they could continue to sell the game.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands wasn’t a sure thing like Borderlands 3 for the studio and the publisher. You aren’t going to create a year’s worth of post-launch content when you don’t know if there is going to be a community to play it.
Randy Pitchford has mentioned new Wonderlands experiences are in development. However, It’s unclear what he actually meant by that because this could mean a new DLC or a whole new game.
I think they made a fair assessment based on their indications of how they should support the game. This means that once a developer is done with their duties on one project they get transferred to the next project. However, when you find yourself in a spot where the game shatters all expectations, you need to reevaluate the scenarios. Can you transfer those Developers back to their previous project (TTWL), what’s the turnaround, and how does that impact the next project?
Gearbox Software provided a lot of post-launch support to Borderlands 3 and I think that the community expected a similar experience with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. While the Borderlands 3 post-launch content was all calculated into their plans for the community Wonderlands was just the next big game from their favorite developer, everything that was done before could potentially be done for this game.
Borderlands 3 raised the bar for post-launch support by providing a live service-like experience with its weekly hotfixes, interesting mini-events, Takedowns, and massive seasonal events.
Bloody Harvest was beyond anyone’s expectation of what we usually get with a seasonal event. The Broken Hearts Day event was more in line with the traditional seasonal events, however, the Bloody Harvest event set a new standard. Therefore, the second seasonal event wasn’t mind-blowing as the first.
Then the Revenge of the Cartels event came along and went even beyond the Bloody Harvest standard, this event felt more like a Head Hunter Pack from Borderlands 2 and I think folks would gladly pay $5 for Revenge of the Cartels but it was “Free”.
Comparing the Wonderlands DLCs to Revenge of the Cartels makes these Wonderlands DLCs feel lackluster and way overpriced. They felt more like snackable content that would nicely fit in between big Story Campaign add-ons to keep the community busy while we were waiting on the next big content drop.
I think there is justification from a business standpoint to not fully embrace that Borderlands 3 model with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Gearbox Software probably could have increased the post-launch support if they knew what they know now. But I think starting that development cycle up after the fact might be a bit late.
So while that might disappointing, for now, it’s actually good news for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands 2 as that game could receive a lot more love.
Do you like to see more Wonderlands content? Let me know in the comments or tag @mentalmars on social media.