The hashtag #BoycottBorderlands3 went viral on Twitter Wednesday over allegations that Borderlands developer Take-Two Interactive (Grand Theft Auto, Civilization, BioShock) aggressively pursued YouTuber SupMatto over leaks disseminated on his YouTube channel.
SupMatto is a high-profile figure in the Borderlands fan community: His YouTube channel, which posts almost exclusively Borderlands content, has more than 138,000 subscribers. His videos in the run-up to Borderlands 3 focused on careful analysis of each new gameplay revelation, which sometimes included revelations that were unintentional.
On April 29, the Borderlands YouTube channel showed off their official Echoclast Twitch extension, which would reward viewers for watching Borderlands content on Twitch. The trailer ended up disclosing more than just the extension, however. Eagle-eyed fans noticed that the company had inadvertently left in the video the usernames of dummy Twitch accounts presumably used to test-drive the Twitch extension. One such account can be spotted below at the 52-second mark, in the bottom-right corner.
Fans who visited the Twitch pages of these dummy accounts could see gameplay footage that wasn’t intended for the public, according to a Reddit post.
In a statement uploaded to his YouTube channel, SupMatto notes that he wasn’t the one to break the accidental leak. He did, however, cover those leaks and many others like it in a series of his YouTube videos.
SupMatto claimed in his video statement that on July 25, two private investigators working on behalf of Take-Two came to his home to question him about his alleged leaks of Borderlands 3 gameplay details. SupMatto described feeling at the time “very tense, as many of you could imagine, having two people in suits you don’t know show up at your home.” A few hours after the two investigators left, SupMatto claims that his Discord server and account were terminated by Discord for “being involved in selling, promoting, or distributing cheats, hacks, or cracked accounts.” The termination notice didn’t give the name of who filed the complaint. Additionally, the following day, SupMatto’s YouTube channel was allegedly met with seven copyright strikes on behalf of 2K Games, a subsidiary of Take-Two, though six of those were later revoked.
#Boycottborderlands3 started trending on Twitter the day after SupMatto’s statement was uploaded to YouTube. On Twitter, the outrage moved away from just SupMatto’s alleged treatment by Take-Two to encompass a whole host of controversies into which the company has stumbled recently. For one, this isn’t even the first time Take-Two has been said to have sent private investigators to people’s homes: PC Gamer reported in 2015 that the company sent people knocking to intimidate a Grand Theft Auto V modder into dropping his modding project.
Other grievances expressed under the hashtag include condemnations of the alleged behavior of Gearbox (a subsidiary of Take-Two) CEO Randy Pitchford, who is currently embroiled in a messy lawsuit with a former employee of his company. Some unsavory accusations made against him in the lawsuit include that Pitchford gave himself a secret $12 million bonus, used Gearbox money to host parties where “adult men have reportedly exposed themselves to minors,” and accidentally left a USB stick containing “underage” pornography, as well as confidential company documents, at a restaurant. There was also bitterness over Borderlands 3’s Epic Store exclusivity, which has become an inexplicable source of rage in the gaming community for the past few months.
Borderlands 3 is set for release Sept. 13 on PS4, Xbox One and the Epic Store, boycott or no boycott. As for SupMatto, he’s “absolutely on hiatus” to give himself time to “decompress” and question his commitment to the game series he has been creating video content for since 2012. Towards the end of his YouTube statement, he addresses his viewers: “I don’t know if this will be a goodbye, a final thing, as I said I don’t know where I stand right now. It’s been a good ride.”