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Gearbox CEO says Tiny Tina's Wonderlands "shattered" expectations

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford told Embracer Group investors this week that the Borderlands spinoff "shattered all of our target expectations."

Gearbox and Embracer Group seem to be exceptionally pleased with the commercial performance of Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. In a call with Embracer investors held on Wednesday (and documented by the folks at Video Games Chronicle), Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford offered some insight on how the company's tabletop fantasy-flavored spinoff of the Borderlands series is performing.

Pitchford called the release of Tiny Tina's Wonderlands "a major victory" for the company, and commented that "Wonderlands shattered all of our target expectations, both critically and commercially." He said that the franchise has established a "beachhead," and that more experiences are in development. 

Neither Gearbox nor Embracer shared any specific sales numbers for Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, but Pitchford did say both companies are reaping the "financial rewards" of its success. Pitchford said that more "experiences" for the series are already in development.

That doesn't mean Gearbox is done with the Borderlands name (or franchise) for the moment. In just a couple of months, the company will release a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Tales from the Borderlands originally developed by Telltale Games. It just might mean the developers of Gearbox's looter-shooter games might be working more closely with the traumatized pyrotechnic Tiny Tina in the years ahead.

Is Tiny Tina's Wonderlands outperforming Borderlands 3?

Seeing Gearbox find footing with a Dungeons & Dragons-flavored spinoff of Borderlands is fascinating when you look back at reports on sales of Borderlands 3Wonderlands doesn't stray very far from the Borderlands formula, mostly just trading the science fiction worlds of Pandora for the in-universe fictional universe of a game called Bunkers & Badasses, which first debuted in a DLC pack for Borderlands 2 called Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep.

In September 2019, it looked like Borderlands 3 would continue to grow the Borderlands' series' sales numbers. Pitchford said at the time that the series "nearly doubled" the number of peak concurrent players that the company saw for Borderlands 2.

But in 2020, developers speaking to Kotaku revealed that Gearbox "overspent" on the development of Borderlands 3, and employees didn't receive annual profit-based bonuses as a result of that overspending. So the game may have sold a large number of copies, but high-upfront costs may have eclipsed those gains.

Later in 2021, a number of high-profile Borderlands 3 developers would depart Gearbox Software.

A fantasy landscape built on the foundation of a spilled beer can and drowned D6 die.
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands did not shy away from the idea that it was a TTRPG campaign with guns.

Without hard numbers, it's difficult to make a 1-1 comparison between Borderlands 3 and Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. But the success of the latter title does paint the picture of a company that can quickly repurpose the expensive technology of the former game to make a spinoff with fresh appeal. 

Between the years-long cultural growth of tabletop RPGs and the chance to follow-up on a unique DLC pack for the best-selling Borderlands 2, the team at Gearbox saw an opening and managed to make the most of it. 

Hopefully the developers on Wonderlands will reap their fair share of the "financial rewards" that Pitchford boasted about to Embracer Group investors. 

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