These days I have a good relationship with the publisher 2K Games. They have always been supportive of my content and have supplied me with assets and swag. While they have done some crazy stuff, like inviting me to the Borderlands 3 reveal event in Los Angeles, all things start small.
In this blog, I’m going over my journey how I got into contact with 2K Games and how they continued to support me. I do want to point out that while influencer marketing is a big deal these days, that wasn’t the case when I started out and asked for assets back in 2013.
Trusted by 2K Games
My 1st Assets Pack
I made a lot of Borderlands 2 wallpapers back in 2012/2013, however, things started getting a bit repetitive. This was because I still was working with the same character renders as when I first started back in 2012. At the time, I did notice that the Borderlands marketing team had more character renders of the vault hunters in different poses. Therefore, I decided to contact Chris Faylor – who was the Gearbox Community Manager at the time – if it was possible that GBX could supply me with some assets for my wallpaper project.
Back then it wasn’t a common practice to hand out assets to creators because influencer marketing wasn’t a big thing yet. However, I’m glad that Gearbox and 2K Games supported me back then as it only propelled my out-of-control hobby forward.
A few years later I later found out that Chris had to get clearance from Scott Pytlik, head of communications, over at 2K Games. At the time, Scott just started working at 2K and took a bit of a risk supplying the assets.
Biggest Borderlands Fan
Around the time of the announcement of Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, 2K Benelux partnered up with a big Dutch gaming site for a contest. They were in search of the biggest borderlands fan in Holland. Because I already made over 200 Borderlands wallpapers, I used that as the foundation of my submission. I created a video showcasing everything that I had created in a stylish way. It didn’t take long until I received the word that I had won the contest. My prize consisted of 3 things.
- A play session of borderlands the pre-sequel (E3 demo) at the 2K office here in Holland
- A VIP play session at Gamescom (new demo)
- A copy of the game at release.
During my play session here in Holland, I got to meet the lovely people of 2K Benelux. The fun thing was that they didn’t know I was MentalMars. They only found out about it at the end of the day. It seemed they had been keeping track of my content for a while. The cool thing was that 2K Games actually shared my first Evolve wallpaper across all their social media channels the week before.
My 1st Developer Presentation
This was a surreal experience. So I was at work and during my coffee break, my phone suddenly started ringing. When I picked up the phone it was Dennis from 2K Benelux. He called me up to check if I was interested in visiting their business booth over at Gamescom in Germany. Gearbox Software was working on Battleborn and they would showcase the game there. 2K Games wanted to provide me with hands-on experience. I still have no idea how they got my phone number but HECK YES I’LL BE THERE! I had been tracking the game since day one and had been creating a bunch of content about it.
Arriving at the 2K booth at Gamescom, I quickly noticed some familiar faces from the 2K and GBX staff. I didn’t know that I would be getting the Battleborn presentation from no one other than Randy Pitchford himself. Afterward the presentation and the gameplay session, I got to meet Chris, Jeff, and Erica. We talk about the game and all the cool stuff that I apparently was creating. This is also where I met up with Scott Pytlik for the first time and found out he was a fan of my work and was committed to supporting me. Which was noticeable throughout the Battleborn marketing campaign.
2K Games started to provide me with info and assets ahead of the Battleborn announcements. This was great as it enabled me to create awesome content.
This started with a heads-up like; “We are going to announce a new thing tomorrow”. The information was very limited at first but as this partnership continued, they entrusted me with more details and the heads-up became more comprehensive. Assets like character renders were only given to established print magazines and while influencer Marketing was becoming more common in 2016, big companies were still testing the waters.
Eventually, I started getting full update descriptions accompanied by screenshots and in-game video footage ahead of the public announcement.
My 1st Press Trip
A few months before Battleborn’s release, Dennis from 2K Benelux called me up again. This time he asked if I wanted to travel to the 2K Headquarters in the UK. They had a press event in England where they would preview the still unannounced Incursion PvP mode.
I was really surprised that someone like me would get invited to a thing like this. 2K Benelux did invite me for a few gameplay sessions at their office before. But a paid-for trip to another country was next-level and it was an awesome experience. Getting to play Battleborn, hang out, and eat pizza with the game’s Creative Director, Randy Varnell.
The Next Big Thing
For some time there was an announcement for Borderlands 3 hanging in the air. No one really knew when it was going to drop but everyone was excited about it. Then Gearbox Software and 2K Games dropped the bomb, Borderlands 3 is coming and we will have a big reveal on May 1st, 2019.
A few weeks after the announcement, Gearbox and 2K staff members were starting to ask if I had a passport. This confused the heck out of me, why would they want to know that? I don’t need to have a passport to visit Germany when they will show Borderlands 3 at Gamescom. I can travel there with my ID card.
Very little that I know that they would fly me to Los Angeles for the big gameplay reveal event… WTF! MINDBLOWN!! THIS IS INSANE!!! I loved every moment of that trip but it was just mental. I never thought that I would ever achieve this with my hobby.
It’s crazy to see how a small community project has led to all of this. One day you decide to make something and continue to challenge yourself to push the bar higher and higher each time. I think 2K and GBX saw the momentum and started supporting my passion. And while those trips and game sessions are awesome, I really also just like meeting my new friends that I have made along the way. And when there is no “BIG PR” thing around the corner but they still send me a x-mass card, that’s when you feel appreciated.