Gearbox bonuses weren’t big as employees had hoped because Borderlands 3 cost so much to make, according to a report.
A report on Kotaku states Gearbox Software employees aren’t getting as large of a bonus as promised, despite Borderlands 3’s success.
According to employees speaking with the site under anonymity, company management promised “six-figure bonuses” following the release of Borderlands 3. Employees who have more tenure would receive large bonuses. However, in a meeting led by company boss Randy Pitchford, employees found out the bonuses would be lower than expected due to expenses incurred with the game. Another reason for the smaller than promised bonuses was due to the company’s significant growth, and sales projections not as expected.
The report states one of the expensive factors was switching from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4, which added extra time to the project. In addition, the game would have to recoup not just the base game’s budget – said to be $95 million – but also the budget for all downloadable content before 2K Games and Take-Two would hand out any royalties.
Pitchford supposedly told the developers at the meeting they were “welcome to quit,” if unhappy with the news. He did state, however, he was hoping to receive more money to give employees on an advance from 2K on future royalties. Royalties from all of the developer’s games are split 60/40. It’s stated that 60% goes back into the company and 40% is handed out to employees via quarterly bonuses.
In February, Take-Two said Borderlands 3 sold nearly 8 million units since it released in September 2019. User growth for the game was also up 50% compared to Borderlands 2 during the same lifecycle. The company said at the time it expected lifetime unit sales to be a record for the franchise.
When asked for comment, Gearbox told Kotaku it offers one of the most “generous royalty bonus systems in AAA,” and since the royalty system was implemented employees have “earned over $100 million 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,” reads the statement.
Gearbox went on to say an update was provided to the employees that participate in the royalty bonus “to set expectations for the coming quarters.”
The report also states that Gearbox, a private company, has been seeking to go public.