Update: Gearbox Software provided a statement regarding the allegations that Troy Baker didn’t return as Rhys in Borderlands 3 due to disagreements about his membership of a union, stating that by Texas law they cannot deny employment based on membership or non-membership of a union. It also alleges that Baker was offered the part and turned it down.
“Troy is an exceptional talent and we were disappointed that he declined to partner on Borderlands 3 after being offered the part. We wish him the best and hope he knows the offer to collaborate with him still stands. Gearbox is a Texas company and is bound by Texas law – which means that a person cannot be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labor union or other labor organization. As a talent-owned and talent-led organization, Gearbox enthusiastically works to ensure our pay and working conditions meet or exceed union standards. We also believe strongly in hiring local voice actors whenever we can which is why we’re thrilled Troy’s career really took off after working with us.” – Gearbox Software – September 30, 2019
Gearbox also provided a link to the website of the Attorney General of Texas regarding unions and Texas Labor Law.
Original: In the weeks following Borderlands 3’s announcement earlier in 2019, there was confusion concerning Troy Baker’s absence. Fans wanted him to reprise the role of Rhys, who he voiced in Tales from the Borderlands. Yet, someone else was hired in his stead. Back and forth between Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and Baker on the matter failed to clear anything up. Now Baker has revealed what he believes to be the true reason behind Gearbox’s going in a different direction. Allegedly, the company didn’t want to work with a union actor.
During a fan event for Troy Baker’s and Nolan North’s Retro Replay, Baker spoke with VG247. In an interview with the publication, the actor addressed his disappointment in being unable to return to the series as Rhys.
So they came to me, and they were like, ‘Do you want to do this?’ Which I said, ‘Absolutely.’ And then they made it impossible for me to do the role. It had nothing to do with money, it had nothing to do with money. They just simply would not go about doing it the way that we needed it to be done. So then it was like, I never said no.
When asked for further clarification, Baker explained that he believed his status as a union actor is what ultimately steered Gearbox in another direction. Supposedly, the studio preferred to work with someone non-union.
No, it was simply a matter of they wouldn’t go union. And I can’t do a non-union gig. And without getting too deep into the weeds of that, we had long conversations about this. We always knew going into it that this was going to be the thing. They were going to take these characters, and put them from the Tales from the Borderlands series from Telltale, into Borderlands proper. I’ve been waiting for this call. They were like, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And I said, ‘Yes’. They never, because they would never move from that position. I’m not mad. It’s invariably a completely different character, but it still stings.”
Unionization in the gaming industry has remained a hot button issue since the voice actor strike in 2016/2017. In the years since then, much of the focus has shifted towards whether or not game developers should unionize.