In a time when Gearbox and 2K Games should be beginning to ramp up promotion for Borderlands 3, more stories come out threatening to overshadow it. The newest piece of intel may be the most damning against Gearbox president Randy Pitchford. A new document in the ongoing legal battle between Pitchford and former Gearbox counsel Wade Callender has given evidence for one of the case’s most alarming allegations.
While Pitchford sued Callender initially, the latter quickly countersued, holding evidence harvested from a personal USB drive of Pitchford’s left at, of all places, a Medieval Times. Most notably, Callender insinuated that Pitchford personally took $12 million in Borderlands bonuses meant for the studio as a whole. While Gearbox and Pitchford denied the allegations on all counts, a new filing provides some unfortunate evidence against the Gearbox founder.
The filing, which was submitted on June 12, 2019 from Callender’s camp, includes an amendment to the original Borderlands 3 contract signed by Gearbox and 2K. Somewhat shockingly, the amendment, known as the “Bonus for satisfaction of dedicated executive requirement,” actually mentions the contentious $12 million. To put it simply, the developer (in this case, Gearbox) is eligible for a “recoupable” bonus of $15 million.
Should the milestones laid out in the clause be met, this $15 million would be distributed to Gearbox in three payments of $5 million each. As employees of Gearbox, Pitchford and fellow founder and current CFO Stephen Bahl (who supposedly copped the remaining $3 million), would be entitled to these funds. However, the clause was amended to authorize 2K Games to transfer the $12 million to Pitchford’s personally-owned company instead.
While the evidence is damning, and does indeed show that this $12 million meant for Gearbox as a whole ended up going to Pitchford, the situation isn’t quite cut and dry. Pitchford currently owns 50% of Gearbox, while having majority operational control at 51%. Because of that, and the fact that this amendment specifically mentions Pitchford and Bahl, the situation becomes a little murkier. While a trial is currently set for January 7, 2020, it’s entirely possible to see this settled out of court before that happens.
This is only the latest controversy in a time when Borderlands 3 anticipation should be at an all-time high. Of course, the entire controversy surrounding microtransactions within the game caused plenty of confusion. In addition, there’s whatever happened with Troy Baker, who was the original voice actor for Rhys. Perhaps most alarmingly, though, are the physical assault allegations against Pitchford.