Gearbox staff miss out on Borderlands 3 bonuses

Gearbox staff miss out on Borderlands 3 bonuses

Staff at Texas-based games studio Gearbox apparently aren't going to be receiving full bonuses from the sales of Borderlands 3.

As reported by Kotaku, staff were expecting significant royalty payments for their hard work on the latest entry in the looter-shooter franchise but were told by CEO Randy Pitchford (pictured) that they would be getting much smaller bonus payments. If staff weren't happy with this then they were welcome to quit, the exec is reported as saying.

Gearbox apparently pays below the industry average, but seems to makes up for it by sharing the profits made by sales of games. 60 per cent of revenue goes back to the company, with the other 40 per cent given out to staff in quarterly bonuses.

This is partly because Borderlands 3 had cost more than the studio had anticipated and due to Gearbox opening a second development in Quebec, Canada.

Pitchford said that Borderlands 3 had in the region of 248,000 concurrent players in the wake of its launch on the Epic Games Store on PC in September 2019. Shortly after its launch, publisher 2K reported that the Borderlands franchise had made more than $1bn to date.

"Borderlands 3 represents an incredible value to gamers and an incredible achievement by the team at Gearbox Software," Gearbox said in a statement.

"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 triple-A. 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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Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.