When THQ went under, it auctioned off a franchise that hadn’t been heard of in almost a decade: Homeworld. While Blackbird Interactive was working to pick up the license, it ultimately went to Borderlands developer Gearbox Software. As CEO Randy Pitchford revealed to Games Industry International, there wasn’t a clear plan as such – aside from re-releases of the original titles – as to what they would do with the IP.
“We didn’t have a clear long-range plan when we started. The other folks that were bidding are great people, but their interests were different. Knowing how important it was to Brian, we had to know that it was not going to end up with folks who were treating it like a commodity. Even if we might not be optimal to make the next game, there’s a whole body of very talented, very creative people. The right kind of team can be put together to do something wonderful. Even though we had no clear path, we had a lot of trust and confidence that the plan would appear.”
Of course, this was due to the fact the developer has (and still has) other things going on. “We’re kind of busy. Borderlands became a massive thing. We’ve put a huge amount of our mindshare and effort into that. Also the next-generation of console is really exciting to us. So, Gearbox has begun developing two original properties. Two new original things for the next-generation. We haven’t announced what those are yet, but the consequences of all that is that our internal mindshare has been very tapped. For us to internally start an effort to make a sequel to Homeworld would have wait.”
Thus Gearbox turned to Blackbird Interactive, with Hardware: Shipbreakers becoming Homeworld: Shipbreakers. Pitchford is satisfied that things turned out this way, but is still thinking about how to distribute the game. “We can do right by the brand, we can certainly promote it, but we’re going to have to figure out the publishing path for this game. There’s a lot of options. Digital is a nice, clean, easy option, but there’s still a lot of value in retail. That’ll be fun to navigate. There’s a lot of interesting, stimulating problems in the business of [making games].”