Claptrap voice actor accuses Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford of assault as pay row grows

Claptrap voice actor David Eddings has claimed he will not be reprising his role in Borderlands 3 because Gearbox “all of a sudden […] couldn’t afford [him]” when he asked for payment for “the first time”.

Eddings has portrayed Claptrap in all preceding Borderlands games but did so whilst working as vice president of licensing and business development at development studio Gearbox. While asked to return to reprise the role for Borderlands 3, Eddings says that as he no longer worked for the company after a move to Rooster Teeth in March 2017, he asked to be paid a performance fee “for the first time”.

Responding to a question about his return on Twitter, Eddings said: “No. For the first time, I insisted on getting paid for my performance and all of a sudden they couldn’t afford me.

“Now I’m not telling them how to run their business but maybe next time they should put the $12M payment from 2K in the Gearbox bank account instead. Just sayin’…”

Talking via his personal Twitter account, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford added that “Mr. Eddings” was offered a “relatively generous offer to reprise the role”.

“Mr. Eddings was paid very handsomely during his employment,” Pitchford said. “After his employment he was made a relatively generous offer to reprise the role. Unfortunately, he turned that opportunity down.

“There was no “force” – He wanted it (and reveled in it),” Pitchford added a day later, clarifying that Eddings’ voice work was not forced upon the then-VP. “The issue today is that Mr. Eddings is bitter and disgruntled about having been terminated. He was offered 2x scale, he refused. I don’t want him to do it unless he wants to do it, as motivation affects performance.

“He was offered 2x scale – twice union rates. He refused the offer.”

However, Eddings claimed overnight he left Gearbox in March 2017 because Pitchford “physically assaulted [him] in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis at GDC 2017”.

“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,” Eddings via a long thread tweeted overnight. “I had a lot of mixed feelings when asked to reprise the role of Claptrap late last year and eventually realized I was willing to put differences aside and do something cool for Borderlands fans with my friends at Gearbox.

“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.

“As an aside, seems a bit conspicuous that he chimed in on my salary but didn’t mention anything about the $12M of revenue he siphoned away from the employee royalty pool. FYI – GBX employees are asked to take lower salaries with the promise of royalty shares.

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,” he concluded. “The whole thing stinks.”

The “$12m of revenue” Eddings refers to was cited in a lawsuit against Pitchford by his ex-lawyer, Wade Callender. Callender accuses Pitchford of contract violations and fraud involving Gearbox, a separate real estate company that they both owned, and Callender’s contract of employment. The filing accuses Pitchford of being “a manipulative and morally bankrupt CEO who shamefully exploited his oldest friend”.

The filing also included allegations that Pitchford received a “secret” $12 million “executive bonus” and lost a USB drive that contained sensitive corporate documents not just for Gearbox, but also 2K, Sega, Sony, Microsoft and others. It further alleges the USB stick also contained Pitchford’s “personal collections of underage pornography”.

Borderlands alumni Troy Baker and Nolan North have also confirmed they will not be returning to reprise their respective roles in Borderlands 3, either. Initially, Pitchford told his followers on Twitter that he’d been “told by the audio director” that Baker had turned the role down, but the voice actor refuted this claim and insisted he would “love to come back” but “[Gearbox Software] said I’m not coming back”.

“Their timeline tells an interesting story,” Baker said, referring to the comments made by the Gearbox CEO (thanks, PC Gamer). “I think it’s interesting that Randy Pitchford tweeted out that I turned it down, and then he said he heard that I turned it down. So maybe… I would fact check before I tweeted out to the internet.”

“Gearbox works to treat and compensate all voice actors at industry standards. We offer the opportunity for salaried employees to voice characters in the game, but is not a mandatory responsibility to their job requirements,” a Gearbox spokesperson told IGN.

“In this particular case, now that he was no longer an employee, we offered him an industry standard rate, but were not able to reach an agreement. We are confident and happy with Jim Foronda as the voice of Claptrap, and we are confident our fans will be too.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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