Randy Pitchford is the CEO of Gearbox Software. As such, he has played an important role in the creation of the Borderlands series and other titles. However, Pitchford is also known for a very different reason, which would the numerous stories of bad behavior on his part in the tech industry.
1. Became Interested In Video Games At a Young Age
Pitchford became interested in video games at a young age. In short, his father was in U.S. Intelligence where he was involved in the making of high-tech equipment, with the result that he brought home computers that he had made. Due to this, Pitchford learned BASIC, which enabled him to make a text adventure when he was still at the age of 11 or 12.
2. Became Interested In Magic At a Young Age
In those times, Pitchford became interested in magic as well. To a considerable extent, he was influenced by the fact that he was the great-nephew of a man named Richard Valentine Pitchford, which tends to be better-known by his stage name of Cardini. For those who are curious, he was a British-born individual who fought in World War One, with the result that he spent in a lot of time practicing card manipulations as well as other stage magic skills as a way of alleviating boredom. In time, Cardini embarked on a multi-decade career, most of which was spent in the United States.
3. Became an Entertainer
Due to this, Pitchford became an entertainer for a time. To be exact, he became a stage magician so that his earnings could be used to pay for his schooling at the University of California, Los Angeles. However, Pitchford remained interested in making video games throughout this period, which became a side activity for him.
4. Started Out At 3D Realms
Eventually, Pitchford’s career as a maker of video games started out at 3D Realms. However, it should be mentioned that he joined up when it was still called Apogee rather than 3D Realms, which can be rather confusing because there is now another video game company called Apogee. In any case, Pitchford’s roots in the shooter genre can be seen in this period, as shown by his involvement in the Duke Nukem series as well as the Shadow Warrior series.
5. Co-Founded Gearbox Software
In 1997, a group of 3D Realms employees departed for the purpose of founding Rebel Boat Rocker, which was set to make a first-person shooter that would be published by EA. Unfortunately, the title was canceled by EA in 1999, with the result that Pitchford plus four other Rebel Boat Rockers departed for the purpose of founding Gearbox Software. For those who are curious, the name was chosen to compare their performance to that of a well-balanced gearbox.
6. Said to Exploit His Employees
One of the most serious issues in the video game industry is the combination of low pay and long hours. Basically, there are a lot of people out there who are very passionate about video games. As a result, they can be convinced to work under grueling conditions on that basis, though there is a limit in that a considerable portion of said individuals will burn out should such situations persist. Supposedly, Gearbox Software employees are underpaid even when compared to their peers in the video game industry, which is based on the stories of current staff as well as former staff related to Kotaku.
7. The Latest Scandal Involves Profit-Sharing
Very recently, Gearbox Software became embroiled in a new scandal because of profit-sharing issues. In short, Gearbox Software employees are underpaid compared to their counterparts at other video game companies. However, 40 percent of the royalties from releases are supposed to be paid out to them in the form of bonuses, which serves as a very attractive lure. Originally, the management promised the employees six-figure bonuses for Borderlands 3. The problem is that the announced bonuses have proven to be much, much lower, which is supposedly because the title’s sales were “below expectations.” Something that is being treated with a special scorn because Borderlands 3 is the single best-selling title in the whole of 2K Games’s history with more than 5 million sales in 5 days. On top of this, Pitchford said that Gearbox Software employees were free to leave if they didn’t like the royalties system, which has become one more reason for outrage.
8. Replaced the Claptrap Voice Actor
The robot Claptrap can be considered the mascot for the Borderlands series. He used to be voiced by David Eddings, a one-time Gearbox Software employee who had risen to an executive position before being rage fired by Pitchford after he had been shoved by Pitchford at GDC 2017. Eddings stated that he was replaced as the voice actor for Claptrap in Borderlands 3 because he had insisted on being paid for the work, while Pitchford made a counter-statement that Eddings turned down a “generous offer to reprise the role.” Considering the other controversies that Pitchford has been embroiled in, it should come as no surprise to learn which of the two who most people believed.
9. Pocketed $15 Million From Take-Two Interactive
After all, Pitchford is said to have pocketed $15 million from Take-Two Interactive, which would be 2K’s parent company. The whole thing was particularly egregious because that $15 million was apparently meant as a bonus for Gearbox Software employees, which presumably didn’t do wonders for employer-employee relationships at said company.
10. Got Sued By a Former Gearbox Software Lawyer
Speaking of which, Pitchford got sued by a former Gearbox Software lawyer named Wade Callender because of that $15 million. The incident started because Gearbox Software sued Callender for using his company credit card for personal expenses, which resulted in Callender counter-suing because of the $15 million that Pitchford had pocketed. Moreover, Callender even provided proof in the form of a contract between 2K Games and Gearbox Software that Pitchford had taken the sum, whereas Pitchford got accused of contempt of court for refusing to provide court-ordered documents during the discovery process. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two sides winded up settling, though the circumstances under which this happened remain mysterious to the public.