Gearbox CEO under fire over misconduct

Al Ridley gives us the latest gaming tea. With assault and microtransactions, it's hard to say which is the blacker mark on Gearbox's Randy Pitchford's record.

Al Ridley
13th May 2019
Image Credit: Flickr.com (Michael Thielen)

That pillar of corporate cock-up culture that is Gearbox have done it again. Mere days after the much-maligned CEO Randy Pitchford was embroiled in a Twitter feud about a contradictory company line on microtransactions, he’s found himself back in boiling water after alleged misconduct with the company’s most famous vocal talent.

David Eddings, once the instantly hateable voice of Borderlands’ Claptrap, is no longer working on Borderlands 3. In a thread on Twitter, Eddings claims that when Gearbox approached him to renew his role as the series mascot, he had serious misgivings but was willing to do the job on two conditions; the assurance of royalties Eddings was owed but had never been paid, and an apology from Pitchford for allegedly assaulting him at the 2017 Game Developers Conference. Neither were provided.

The royalties are their own can of worms; Eddings claims that Gearbox employees are encouraged to take lower base salaries with royalty shares. Those shares, however, never paid out. The fund was mostly drained to form the cool $12 million bonus Pitchford gave himself at the end of the fiscal year, while Gearbox employees who opted for royalties laboured under a severe, undisclosed pay cut.

Neither Gearbox or 2K have made any statement about these allegations at time of writing, but Pitchford has sprung to his own defence on Twitter.

But the assault allegations are something else. If they’re true – and Pitchford, strangely, hasn’t even denied it – then there’s the possibility of some dangerous legal trouble for the Gearbox CEO. At this stage, it’s too early to determine the veracity or import of the assault, but if charges are pressed, who knows?

Neither Gearbox or 2K have made any statement about these allegations at time of writing, but Pitchford has sprung to his own defence on Twitter. One wonders how far this walking PR nightmare will push the buck this time, and whether this time the company will be forced to take action.

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