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Gearbox accused of withholding employees bonuses, again

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford

The company helmed by mega-a-hole Randy Pitchford is in hot water again, and it’s basically something that was already an issue with the company coming up again. A new report from insiders posted by Kotaku has alleged that Gearbox Software has been accused of not going to give its employees the full bonuses that were promised to them if Borderlands 3 was a commercial success.

This was already a problem last year when it was revealed that the face of the company, Randy Pitchford, had been allegedly pilfering employees bonuses into other projects. This is in addition to him also doing some really stupid stuff, like sharing footage of animal cruelty online and harassing and attacking employees. In short, the general consensus is that Randy Pitchford is a poor person to work for, to put it lightly.

The report states that the company pays a lower than average salary than its competitors to its employees. The company then counterbalanced this undercutting with a promised bonus based on Gearbox Software’s profits in a given quarter. This revenue share scheme could be a good idea, but it would probably be better if you just paid better wages. Then again, the games industry is notorious for low wages, lack of job security, and crunch culture, so it’s not too surprising that a company would be accused of not paying out. Some employees claimed they had been promised a bonus of at least $100,000.

Borderlands 3 was a financial success for the company, with its strong sales and hype. So the employees were hopeful of a decent windfall, which never materialized to their expectations. The bonus checks were paid out, but were much lower than expected, and employees were told by Gearbox CEO Pitchford that the costs of development and opening a new studio in Canada had to come from somewhere.

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“We expect lifetime unit sales to be a record for the series,” said Strauss Zelnick, CEO of 2K parent company Take-Two, on an earnings call in February. So understandably, people have some questions.

And maybe Pitchford wasn’t the best person to deliver this news, the man has a notorious track record with money. From 2014 to 2018 he somehow allowed a personal assistant to bilk him out of an alleged $3 million.

In response, the company supplied this statement to Kotaku:

Borderlands 3 represents an incredible value to gamers and an incredible achievement by the team at Gearbox Software. Our studio is talent-led and we believe strongly in everyone sharing in profitability. The talent at Gearbox enjoys participation in the upside of our games – to our knowledge, the most generous royalty bonus system in AAA. Since this program began, Gearbox talent has earned over $100M in royalty bonuses above and beyond traditional compensation.”

“In the most recent pay period Gearbox talent enjoyed news that Borderlands 3, having earned revenue exceeding the largest investment ever made by the company into a single video game, had officially become a profitable video game and the talent at Gearbox that participates in the royalty bonus system has now earned their first royalty bonus on that profit. Additionally, a forecast update was given to the talent at Gearbox that participates in the royalty bonus to set expectations for the coming quarters. Gearbox is a private company that does not issue forward looking statements to the public, but we do practice transparency within our own family.”

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