It’s a funny thing when a title with a cult following is remastered. You’d expect it to be celebrated, a chance for the game to shine. That’s what should have happened when Gearbox brought back 2011’s Bulletstorm. A game celebrated for its tongue-in-cheek tone, tight gameplay, and fondness for gore. Excitement for the remastering built nicely, and then the price tag was revealed.
Fresh from a rough run of games and controversies, Gearbox has found themselves in a tight spot. Consumer trust is about as low as Battleborn’s player count. The damage from the Aliens: Colonial Marines still lingers, a constant thorn in their side. Bulletstorm: Full Clip edition marked Gearbox’s most recent attempt at publishing. To say the very least, the whole affair was messy. Charging $50 for a re-release that adds very little, and oddly has fewer options than the original, is bizarre.
4k capabilities may sound nice on paper, but the truth is most people aren’t running 4k ready rigs. That leaves the game’s main selling point in the dust. After the visual upgrade, all you have is some lame DLC and pre-order bonus that lets you play as Duke Nukem. Simply put, that’s nowhere near the valuation of $50, not even close. Things got even worse with the announcement Gearbox was working with G2A to sell a special edition of the game.
G2A has been discussed at length on various websites, including this one. Their practices are well documented and discussed, with most having a dim view of their questionable service. Gearbox ignored all of this and went into business with them anyway. People were not happy, and rightly so. YouTube personality TotalBiscuit opted to boycott Gearbox after hearing the news, prompting the publisher to act.
Better, Cheaper, Ethical
Enter Sega, a company not exactly famed for its quality in recent years. Out of the blue, the 2009 classic Bayonetta is released onto Steam. Steam achievements, Steam cloud saves, trading cards, big picture mode, and 4k capabilities. Add to that a wealth of PC options, and you’re left with the price tag of $19.99. Sega hadn’t just surprised us, they’d impressed us. The best version of the game, with enhanced features, for less than $20? That’s not just a bargain, but a steal.
Gearbox’s publishing antics is left looking even more inept. Is it a problem with Western business becoming too greedy? Is Japan leading the way in how to handle re-releases? Not quite, after all, Konami utterly botched their attempts at Remastering Silent 2 and 3, along with Zone of the Enders. The blame, in this case, falls squarely on Gearbox.
Out Of Their Depth
At this point, there’s value in arguing that Gearbox is simply out of their depth. The mishandling, and subsequent marketing, of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition speaks volumes of Gearbox’s current position. After the success of Borderlands and, well Borderlands 2, the studio has very little to speak of recently. Since 2010, Gearbox has released Duke Nukem Forever, Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel, BattleBorn and Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour along with Homeworld Remastered and Deserts of Kharak.
Both Homeworld games marked high points for Gearbox, but their niche nature never penetrated the mainstream. Beyond that, Gearbox has not released a great game in some time. Aliens: Colonial Marines damaged the studio’s image immensely, as well as discrediting Randy Pitchford (who would then go on to discredit himself perfectly well). Duke Nukem became something of a joke. Battleborn was much the same, a solid game that was poorly marketed to the point no one cared about its release.
The move to work with G2A, as well as trying to leech off the buzz word ‘indie’, has done little to help Gearbox. Bulletstorm: Full Clip could possibly be the best example of a product put out by a company out of touch with their audiences. It should have been easy money, even more so following off the lust for over the top action Doom had left, but Gearbox messed it up. The willingness to work with G2A and the price tag of Bulletstorm: Full Clip has been just another dent in their already weakened armour.
Kudos to Sega for showing how to re-release a game in 2017, complete with enhanced features and a consumer friendly price. Hopefully, Gearbox can learn from it, instead of tarnishing their rich legacy in the industry they’ve helped build.