Cory Barlog is joining the growing chorus from the gaming community that is far from happy about the way Borderlands 3 developer Gearbox is handling itself of late. The studio and its CEO, Randy Pitchford, are coming under fire this week because several employees are alleging that Gearbox isn’t paying out bonuses it promised. Commenting on social media about the story, Barlog tweeted his disdain for the treatment.
“This is a sh— thing to do to the actual people responsible for the things you make.”
Barlog certainly understands what it is to be a person responsible for making things. He is a longtime lead writer in the God of War video game series. That includes being the lead writer for the most recent installment and only installment to debut on the Sony PlayStation 4.
At issue is an article from Kotaku that details a number of employees who reported back what Pitchford said at a recent meeting. That meeting was about the success of Borderlands 3 and its very good sales in 2019 and 2020.
As the website points out, Gearbox is said to pay well below scale for its developers when it comes to salary. In order to make up for this, the company offers revenue share and bonuses. That is something very few studios offer, and it’s something that has helped keep Gearbox afloat.
Those bonuses were promised, according to employees of the company, when Borderlands 3 hit certain sales levels. The game did indeed hit and surpass those levels.
Because of the title’s performance, sources inside the firm said they were quite surprised when they were informed their bonuses were not going to be anywhere near what they were promised they would be. What Barlog and others have an issue with is the way the firm delivered the news.
Several employees in the room reported that Pitchford told them, “if they weren’t happy with the royalty system, they were welcome to quit.” Being someone who has worked in the gaming industry for years, Barlog doesn’t appear to be as upset at the premise of bonuses being lower, rather those same devs were talked to so harshly.
Some advice for new devs: Ignore bonuses or any other discretionary payments when assessing companies or negotiating your contract. Focus on salary. Let bonuses be a nice surprise when you get them, rather than a disappointment when you don’t. https://t.co/LkSykSM94i
— Dan Lowe (@danlowlows) April 1, 2020
It should be pointed out that Pitchford appears to be throwing a “take it or leave it” mentality at his employees during a period of time when he knows leaving is quite difficult. That was possibly in the mind of Barlog as well, considering it’s hard to forget just what is happening to the world during the coronavirus outbreak.
For Gearbox, the story is yet another in what has been a string of negative articles about how the company and its CEO does business. It’s notable that Barlog and other video gaming luminaries are taking notice and speaking out.