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Report: Gearbox overspent on Borderlands 3, and devs see bonuses cut in response

Sources speaking to Kotaku say Gearbox dangled the carrot of six figure bonuses in front of underpaid developers, only cut promised profit sharing at the last minute.

Developers at Gearbox say they rely on yearly bonuses to balance out what they say are below-industry-average wages offered at the studio, but now tell Kotaku that Gearbox is cutting significantly smaller checks to developers this year, despite toting series-best sales on Borderlands 3.

Gearbox’s longstanding profit share plan makes it so 40 percent of a game’s income is redistributed back to the developer team as bonuses, while the remaining 60 percent is fed into the company itself.

Staff were reportedly told in a meeting yesterday that Gearbox had spent more than expected making the game, hadn’t accurately projected how Borderlands 3 would sell, and increased the studio size as a whole, which all contributed to news that the usual profit share bonuses would be less than developers had previously expected.

On top of that, Gearbox’s deals with 2K meant that the publisher has to break even before Gearbox sees a cent of royalties, or any money that qualifies for Gearbox’s 40-percent-to-developers profit share promises, meaning this quarterly payout came in significantly below what individuals were expecting and budgeting for based on earlier comments from management.

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford reportedly told those in attendance that they could quit if they were unhappy with the arrangement.

In a statement shared in the full Kotaku story, Gearbox highlighted that this was the first quarter where Borderlands 3 crossed over into that profitable threshold, and thus the first of multiple bonuses it says developers will see for the game’s success.

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