Gearbox Software must be an awkward place to work today as news broke last night that the Borderlands 3 developers were not going to get their promised bonus checks which Randy Pitchford promised them. This comes after allegations had also emerged that Randy Pitchford had secretly secured a $12 million bonus from publisher 2K Games.
The whole situation sounds rather unpleasant as employees told Kotaku that these bonus checks are part of Gearbox Software’s compensation scheme and that they are meant to get them after the release of a new game. The studio reportedly pays employees below market rates but makes up for it by offering a 60/40 royalty split. According to Kotaku, these bonuses are still yet to be distributed and they are much smaller than the six-figure bonuses promised to employees.
According to the report, Gearbox software claims that the smaller-than-expected bonuses for Borderlands 3 developers were due to the game costing more to make and selling fewer copies than the company expected to sell. The studio also ramped up hiring during its production in order to get the game finished in time. Not to mention the switch from the Unreal 3 to Unreal 4 engine midway through development which also cost the studio time and money.
The terms are that 2K Games is required to make back all the money from the development of Borderlands 3 and its DLCs from Gearbox Software before royalties would be paid out. However, the game has been a huge success with over 7 million copies being sold and two successful DLC having launched already. By all accounts, the Borderlands 3 developers should be receiving their bonuses as there’s been no hint from the publisher and developer that the game has not sold less than expected.
Randy Pitchford reportedly told employees that if they were upset with the surprise announcement, they should quit their jobs.