Borderlands 3 gets partial crossplay, but refuses to play by Sony's rules

Borderlands 3
(Image credit: Gearbox Interactive)

Randy Pitchford, the president and CEO of Borderlands developer Gearbox Software, has announced an upcoming patch will introduce crossplay support "across all platforms." Except, well, it won't be across all platforms.

Offering a glimpse into the kind of corporate chicanery that sometimes stops nice things happening for no good reason, Pitchford went on to say that "for certification, we have been required by the publisher to remove crossplay support for Playstation consoles."

Now: folk are getting angry at Sony about this. But Borderlands 3 is published by 2K Games and Pitchford specifies it was removed at the request of the publisher, not Sony. Why? Because Sony wants a cut of any cross-play title that achieves success, believing this is justified to "offset the reduction in revenue." This policy itself only came around in 2019 after many years of the company refusing to entertain the notion whatsoever.

The recent Apple vs Epic case gave some insight into how this works, with Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney explaining that "In certain circumstances Epic will have to pay additional revenue to Sony. If somebody were primarily playing on PlayStation, but paying on iPhone then this might trigger compensation." Epic agreed to pay these additional fees to Sony for Fortnite crossplay. Clearly, 2K doesn't think it's worth it.

Borderlands 3

(Image credit: 2K)

Barring a sudden shift in position from Sony (or 2K) this is likely to be how things stay. This is also likely why Randy Pitchford is making a public deal out of the situation: the more developers and publishers that refuse to play ball with Sony, and embarrass the company in public, the likelier it is that things will change.

As for the future of Borderlands itself, Pitchford hopped on the recent UE5 tech showcase to tease the series' future. He seems to suggest that whatever is coming next will represent a generational leap for the games although, of course, these things are easier said than done.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."