Randy Pitchford, CEO of Borderlands studio Gearbox, finds himself accused of a staggering set of crimes involving large amounts of money and alleged sexual acts. The accusations come in a lawsuit from Gearbox's former lawyer, a man named Wade Callender. What makes the situation more complicated is that Callender is also being sued by Gearbox for taking company money and using it for personal enjoyment.
(Trigger Warning: The accusations include abusive sexual acts that some readers may find disturbing.)
Among the claims in Callendar's suit against Gearbox are two huge crimes, one involving a huge paycheck and the other involving suspicious content on a thumb drive. The first allegation is that Pitchford took a “personal, secretive ‘Executive Bonus’ 0f $12,000,000 to be paid directly to Pitchford entity called ‘Pitchford Entertainment Media Magic, LLC.’” This supposedly happened in 2016, and Callendar claims the money was meant to be put towards Borderlands development. Instead, he accuses Pitchford of siphoning it into his own outside company.
But perhaps the wildest accusation is that Pitchford hosted parties where “adult men have reportedly exposed themselves to minors, to the amusement of Randy Pitchford.” In addition, Callendar claims that Pitchford once lost a company USB stick at a Texas restaurant. A restaurant employee later discovered it, they reportedly found classified documents about upcoming Gearbox games, as well as risqué pictures of children.
Of course, there are two sides to every story, and Gearbox has a lot to say in rebuttal to Callendar's lawsuit.
In a statement to Kotaku, Gearbox says:
"Gearbox will be filing a grievance with the State Bar of Texas against our former general counsel Wade for disciplinary proceedings for filing a lawsuit that includes accusations that he knows to be untrue. The lawyer’s rules of professional conduct expressly prohibit the filing of documents that are knowingly false. The tell is within Wade’s claim itself – his use of hedged lawyer language and clever application of quotation marks betray that he knows that the impression he is trying to create is based in lies. We imagine that he used the quotation marks and lawyer language in hopes that will give him some angles of defense when we inevitably take action against him for false statements. Wade is engaged in a shakedown and he’s clearly using deceit and lies to try to cause damage by promoting a narrative that he knows is false."
After this story first rose, Ars Technica found a podcast from last year where Pitchford addressed the USB stick incident. According to him, the only sexual content on the drive was a video of an adult woman touching herself. Gearbox also denies the existence of the predatory parties.
Another interesting wrinkle to this story is that Callendar was let go from Gearbox last year. Gearbox also sued him first, alleging that he committed fraud by taking company money and not paying it back. The suit reads that he “abused the privilege of credit card access by charging unapproved, wholly personal expenses, including family vacations, gun club memberships and firearms accessories, and trying to get six-pack abs.”
So now there are two lawsuits and a lot of wild accusations flying around. We'll cover the details as more come. For now, you can read the entirety of both suits in the Kotaku piece on this story.