The drama between former Borderlands Claptrap voice actor David Eddings and current Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford continued and escalated yesterday when Eddings accused Pitchford of assaulting him two years ago. Previously, the dispute has centered around Eddings' pay, or lack thereof — Eddings has gone on record as saying that he was not compensated for his performance as Claptrap over the franchise's entire history.
According to Eddings, the dispute began when the former Borderlands Claptrap voice actor asked to be paid for his work in the upcoming Epic Games Store exclusive Borderlands 3. The voice actor was apparently then told that Gearbox did not have the budget for him, something he publicly derided on Twitter while insinuating that Pitchford's alleged $12 million secret bonus could've been used to pay him and many others. Pitchford then responded, calling Eddings "bitter" while also disclosing that the employee had been terminated and then offered the industry standard rate for a voice actor, which Eddings allegedly turned down.
It was only a matter of time before the former Borderlands Claptrap voice actor responded, and his most recent revelation is a shocking and disgusting one if true — according to Eddings, Pitchford physically assaulted him in a hotel lobby during the Game Developers Conference in 2017. Eddings didn't provide details on the incident, instead choosing to describe his perception of Pitchford's character, which is predictably not a flattering one. In a lengthy tweet thread, Eddings attempted to shed more light on his side of the story:
I was fine moving on after Gearbox. But when my former boss starts mouthing off about various aspects of my employment including “how highly compensated” I was and how “generous” he is, I feel obligated to correct the record.— David Eddings (@davideddings) May 7, 2019
I ultimately offered to do it for “free” in exchange for past royalties owed plus an apology for something I’ve never spoken about publicly until now: Randy physically assaulted me in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis at GDC 2017.— David Eddings (@davideddings) May 7, 2019
2K says they won't give a statement regarding an ongoing lawsuit but if the allegation is false then it sure seems a lot easier to just deny it since that's the only reason they're mentioned. The whole thing stinks.— David Eddings (@davideddings) May 7, 2019
Eddings had a lot to share, and it's basically all the stuff of nightmares for both Pitchford and his company, which has already been struggling with public perception after the Borderlands 3 microtransaction controversy. Now, the former Borderlands Claptrap voice actor has added an assault allegation the growing list of problems for Gearbox, most of which have stemmed solely from the company's CEO. Since the allegation was made public, Pitchford has made exactly one tweet, in which he discussed his excitement over the new Sea of Thieves update:
Excited tonight to finally play the new Sea of Thieves update. I've been working too much this week. Need a crew for tomorrow!— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 7, 2019
It's likely that Gearbox and Pitchford are preparing something of an official statement, as this could be the beginnings of a lengthy and messy legal matter should either side of the former Borderlands Claptrap voice actor dispute decide to involve lawyers. Shooting from the hip has been Pitchford's style forever, but lately it's been near-universally backfiring for him. From a rant that inappropriately criticized a Game Informer journalist for doing their job to the strange exchange between the CEO and former Rhys voice actor Troy Baker, Pitchford's public image has already been a disaster lately.
Adding an assault allegation on top of an exploitative pay structure — while the rest of the industry is just beginning to come to grips with and rally against the notion of video game developer crunch — is nothing short of cataclysmic. While our hands-on with Borderlands 3 gameplay made it feel like an absolute delight, it's hard to get excited for a game that now has so much negativity swirling around it, with seemingly more added every day.