Borderlands 3 easily outguns Gears 5 – which flops at UK retail

Summer is over and the UK charts sprang back into action with four new entries in the Top 10 this week. The biggest release by far was 2K’s Borderlands 3, which destroyed Gears 5 at retail, as the Microsoft title performed poorly compared to its 2016 predecessor.

It was surprising just how much Borderlands 3 outgunned Gears 5 at retail. Outselling it by more than four times, across all platforms admittedly, but still selling 77 per cent more units when looked at head-to-head on Xbox One alone. 

Against its predecessor Gears 5 performed poorly too – with sales down 78 per cent on 2016’s Gears of War 4 it’s something of a flop in a box. That drop is well above the typical rate of decline we’d associate with digital shift over the last three years (15-20 per cent). The latest title has launched in mid-September, rather than the busier mid-October though, so there’s time for it to pull back some of those sales pre-xmas.

However, all that must be considered in the light of Xbox Game Pass. Just how many potential buyers were already paying for Game Pass, or (more importantly maybe) signed up to the service specifically to access the title? Which was available five days before its retail release on the service. Only Microsoft knows the answer to that one, but the numbers on Gear 5 must have undergone some very steely analysis in Redmond we’d think as to the potential of the subscription model in the medium term.

The low sales also shine a new light on Microsoft’s decision to bring the title to Steam at short notice, as we discussed with Microsoft marketing chief Aaron Greenberg recently, with the move looking more like a way to buttress poor demand than a smart attempt to bring the franchise to more gamers worldwide, though of course it will do both in some regard.

Back to the victorious Borderlands 3, it’s worth noting that fans have been waiting for a whopping seven years since the original release of the last title. That said, Borderlands 2 has continued to attract gamers’ attention in the interim, with releases like 2015’s The Handsome Collection, which updated the game for current-generation consoles. 

Physical sales for the franchise have dropped by around 50 per cent over the last seven years, comparing Borderlands 2 to Borderlands 3 across all formats. That’s more in line with what we’d expect over such a long time period. Meanwhile it looks to be flying digitally, with Gearbox today shouting about the success of the title on PC

Elsewhere on the chart this week, we saw the rebranded eFootball PES 2020 launch, just a week before the all-conquering FIFA 20 is unleashed. It managed a respectable third, with sales shooting up by 19 per cent on last year’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. The small gap between it and Gears 5 in the charts still says more about Gears losses than PES’s gains. 

Action RPG title Greedfall was the fourth new release to make it into the Top 10. Focus Home Interactive’s title has had good reviews in the run-up to launch, and while sales were modest, a fifth place in September on a new IP, which will likely do far better on PC, is still something to be celebrated. 

Other new entries included Nintendo’s Daemon X Machina on Switch at No.19 (rare proof that not everything the company releases on the platform succeeds) and EA’s NHL 20 at No.36.

Here’s the Top Ten for the period between September 8th and September 14th 2019 (data courtesy of GfK/Ukie):

Rank Title Publisher
1 Borderlands 3 2K
2 Gears 5 Microsoft
3 eFootball PES 2020 Konami
4 NBA 2K20 2K
5 Greedfall Focus Home
6 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo
7 Spyro Reignited Trilogy Activision
8 Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar
9 Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Activision
10 Super Mario Maker 2 Nintendo

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