Borderlands 3 sales have been astounding across all platforms – it’s the best-selling game in the franchise, and was the fastest-selling title publisher 2K’s history. According to some employees at developer Gearbox, however, this massive sales success hasn’t been enough to guarantee the bonuses company management promised them.
Senior employees at Gearbox were promised bonuses of six figures following the launch of Borderlands 3, according to a report from Kotaku. The report says that in a March 31 meeting, developers were told that those bonuses would now be substantially lower, due to the cost of the game’s development, the studio’s growth, and incorrect sales projections.
In other words, Gearbox management was unable to pay these bonuses to employees because of its own decisions. According to the report, Gearbox pays base salaries below the industry’s average, but makes up for that with profit sharing – 60% of the studio’s royalties stay with the company and its owners, while 40% is paid to employees through quarterly bonuses. Developers who had been with the studio for a number of years – through the lean times amid Gearbox’s recent flops – were told to expect big Borderlands 3 bonuses, with even bigger payouts based on how long they had been with the studio.
Employees who were present at the company meeting tell Kotaku that Gearbox chief Randy Pitchford informed them that those bonus checks would be much lower than originally promised. Pitchford allegedly added that Gearbox sought advances from 2K on future royalties – and that those unhappy with the royalty system were welcome to quit.
“In the most recent pay period Gearbox talent enjoyed news that Borderlands 3,” the company says in a statement, “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.”
Gearbox notes that as a private company, it is not obliged to provide public statements on its financial outlook, “but we do practice transparency within our own family.”