Borderlands 3 may have done exceedingly well in terms of sales when it launched last fall, but that doesn't mean the employees that brought it to life were able to benefit from its popularity.
Publisher 2K Games previously described the game as a "billion-dollar global brand," and employees were set to benefit from this. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford had previously promised special bonuses and royalties to the company, but recently told workers that they wouldn't actually be getting them – at least, in the scope they were originally promised.
Employees are still going to get their hands on smaller bonuses in the form of checks, but this is hardly the thousands that they had been looking for. This is all based on hearsay and reports from those close to the company who shared their accounts with Kotaku, who reported on the matter, anonymously.
The studio should have offered the same profit-sharing it had been doing over the years with royalties split 60/40 with 60% going to the company and 40% going to employees as quarterly bonuses. This ended up in employees receiving massive bonuses when the original Borderlands 2 payments went out, and it was a huge payday for many.
But Gearbox has been having difficulty since then, and even though Borderlands 3 sold extremely well, Pitchford told employees that their bonus checks would be "significantly lower" than expected. He also noted that if employees weren't happy with the royalty system, then they were welcome to quit.
"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," shared Gearbox in a recent statement.
It isn't clear what the truth is here – but it doesn't sound as though Pitchford or Gearbox are being exceedingly clear.