2K Games ($TTWO) had a hit last year with Borderlands 3, which as of today has sold over eight million copies worldwide. The developer of the game, Gearbox Software ($PRIVATE:GEARBOXSOFTWARE), has a longrunning policy within the studio often used to entice new employees to join. Instead of being paid market rate, Gearbox offers a profit-sharing program where its staff earns a portion of the company's games sales. That could end up being hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on how long you've been with Gearbox.
All of this came crashing back to reality, as Gearbox co-founder and CEO Randy Pitchford informed the team they would not be getting quite the same type of bonuses they were promised (verbally, not contractually, we add). The reason stated was an increase in costs leading to more employees in more support studios in more locations, which cut into the money made from the game.
This has led to an explosive must-read report, where sources at Gearbox have complained about low morale, lies from management, and threats of walkouts. But will any of this lead to subsequent action? What do fans of the Borderlands series think of the fallout?
As it turns out, Gearbox employees might be hardpressed to quit en masse as a global pandemic has made job security all the more important right now.
The Frisco, Texas-based developer has kept its size relatively the same recently, even after it shipped Borderlands 3. Typically when a game releases, there's a purge of low-level and temporary employees who worked on the project, which can include QA testers or marketing positions. But since the downloadable content (or DLC) that was announced pre-launch only recently came out, the team has stayed the same size.
In fact, once the game shipped, hiring at Gearbox went up 300%. What better way to get more game devs interested in working for you than a growing audience, a new best-seller in a popular franchise, AND the loose promise of profit-sharing bonuses for longevity at the studio?
The number of Twitter followers for both Gearbox and the official Borderlands account went up after the game released in September.
Finally, we just wanted to show the increase in 'Talking About' count these last few days, as the story has generated more attention. There's no telling what will happen to Gearbox moving forward, but if any industry is well suited to ride out a global pandemic and recession, it's video games.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.