Gearbox Software
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Gearbox Software

Gearbox Software, L.L.C.
IndustryVideo game industry
FoundedFebruary 16, 1999; 20 years ago (1999-02-16)
FoundersRandy Pitchford
Brian Martel
Stephen Bahl
Landon Montgomery
Rob Heironimus
HeadquartersFrisco, Texas, U.S.
Area served
Key people
ProductsBorderlands series
Brothers in Arms series
Number of employees
DivisionsGearbox Publishing
SubsidiariesGearbox Studio Quebec

Gearbox Software, L.L.C. is an American video game development company based in Frisco, Texas. It was established in 1999 by developers from companies such as 3D Realms and Bethesda Softworks, with one of the founders, Randy Pitchford, as CEO. The company initially created expansions for the Valve Corporation game Half-Life, then ported that game and others to console platforms. In 2005 Gearbox launched its first independent set of games, Brothers in Arms, on console and mobile devices. It became their flagship franchise and spun off a comic book series, television documentary, books, and action figures. Their second original game series Borderlands was released in 2009, and by 2015 had sold over 26 million copies. The company also owns the intellectual property of Duke Nukem and Homeworld.


Gearbox Software was founded on February 16, 1999[1] by five members of the content team from the defunct developer Rebel Boat Rocker: Randy Pitchford, Brian Martel, Stephen Bahl, Landon Montgomery, and Rob Heironimus.[2] Before Rebel Boat Rocker, Pitchford and Martel previously worked together at 3D Realms, and Montgomery previously worked at Bethesda Softworks.

They started with developing expansions to Valve Software's Half-Life. Porting Half-Life to console platforms (each with new game content) followed, building the company's experience in console game-making, in addition to enhancing and building upon the successful Counter-Strike branch of the Half-Life franchise. Prior to Half-Life 2, they had developed or helped develop every Half-Life expansion game or port, including Opposing Force, Blue Shift, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Half-Life for the Sony PlayStation 2 (including Half-Life: Decay), and Half-Life for the Sega Dreamcast (including Blue Shift). Branching out to other publishers, they pursued additional port work, each game being released with additional content, but this time from console to PC. These projects included their first non-first-person shooter, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, and Halo: Combat Evolved, forging new publisher relationships with Activision and Microsoft Game Studios respectively. Additional new development, in the form of a PC game in the James Bond franchise (James Bond 007: Nightfire) for Electronic Arts, also occurred during the company's initial 5-year period.

In 2005, they launched an original property of their creation, Brothers in Arms, with the release of Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 on the Xbox, PC and PlayStation 2. Later that year a sequel, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, was launched. In 2008 Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway was released.

2007 brought announcements of new projects based on licensed film intellectual properties, including the crime drama Heat[3] and the science-fiction classic Aliens.[4] In the September 2007 issue of Game Informer, a new game franchise was revealed, the sci-fi shooter Borderlands,[5] after which Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford mentioned in an online interview that development on the Heat game had not yet begun, as the planned development partner for the project had gone under.[6] This was followed by an announcement by Sega that they would be helming a new version of rhythm game Samba de Amigo for the Wii, a departure from their signature first-person shooter titles.[7]

In June 2013, 3D Realms sued Gearbox for unpaid royalties.[8] In September 2013, 3D Realms dropped the suit with founder Scott Miller explaining it as a misunderstanding on their part.[9]

In July 2013, Gearbox announced plans to rerelease Homeworld and Homeworld 2 in high definition for modern PC platforms, in addition to making it available through digital distributors.[10]

In February 2014, Gearbox filed a lawsuit against 3D Realms for attempting to make another Duke Nukem game without the consent of the company.[11]

In July 2014, Randy Pitchford formally contested the Aliens: Colonial Marines class action lawsuit stating the game had cost them millions of their own money and the advertising was solely the fault of the publisher.[12]

Acquiring Duke Nukem

In 2008, Sega announced its license of the Aliens franchise and a development deal with Gearbox Software to create Aliens: Colonial Marines. Also in 2008, Gearbox Software's CEO Randy Pitchford announced that the company was working on yet another major unannounced title, hinting that it was "huge".[13] On September 3, 2010, Gearbox announced that they are behind Duke Nukem Forever.[14]

Since 2009, Allen Blum, the co-designer of Duke Nukem 3D and his development team are housed at Gearbox Software under the name of Triptych Games. The team worked on the game in their own homes before Gearbox Software decided to collaborate.

In June 2011, Duke Nukem Forever was released and received negative critical reception on release, with most of the criticism directed towards the unfinished, rushed state of the game.[15][16] Despite the criticism the game topped the charts on release and made a profit for its distributor, Take-Two Interactive.[17]

Aliens: Colonial Marines controversy

In February 2013, an anonymous source reported to Destructoid that Gearbox had been taking people and resources off Aliens: Colonial Marines to put them to work on Borderlands and Duke Nukem Forever, and yet was still collecting full payments from Sega as if they were working on Aliens: Colonial Marines. When Sega discovered this misconduct they canceled Colonial Marines, which led to the game's protracted development; "At some point in 2008, Sega temporarily pulled the plug on the game [...] They caught wind of Gearbox shifting resources despite still collecting milestone checks as if the team were full size and lying to Sega and 2K Games about the number of people working on each project. This led to the round of layoffs at Gearbox in late 2008."[18]

The game drew additional controversy due to the accusations that much of the game's development was not by Gearbox Software, but was outsourced to other developers in order to compensate for mismanagement on behalf of Gearbox. While Sega initially denied that any such outsourcing occurred, sources claimed that developers Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software were responsible for the game's downloadable content, while TimeGate Studios was responsible for the majority of the game's campaign, and were unable to create the planned Beta version on schedule despite several delays. This caused the game to be rushed through redesigns, certification and shipping, despite being in a largely unfinished state.[19]

A class action lawsuit filed in April 2013 by Roger Damion Perrine and John Locke alleged that Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised Aliens: Colonial Marines by showing demos at trade shows, such as PAX and E3, that did not accurately represent the final product. Sega and the plaintiffs reached a settlement in late 2014, wherein Sega agreed to pay $1.25 million to the class. A motion for preliminary approval of the class settlement was pending as of January 2015. Gearbox has not agreed to settle, and the plaintiffs continue to litigate claims against the company.[20]

On April 5, 2013, Sega confirmed that the Wii U port of the game was cancelled due to poor reception of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game.[21] Also in April, Gearbox acquired the Homeworld franchise from THQ during its bankruptcy auction.[22]

In May 2013, it was reported that TimeGate Studios filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.[23]

Gearbox Studio Québec

In December 2015, it was reported that Gearbox is opening a second development studio in Quebec City, Canada.[24] The studio will be run by Sebastien Caisse and former Activision art director Pierre-Andre Dery. The team will grow to at least 100 and that it will develop original AAA titles.[25] The core team is built around former Assassin's Creed, Skylanders and Call of Duty developers and Université Laval IT staff.



Gearbox has developed a total of six games in the Half-Life series: the expansion packs Opposing Force and Blue Shift; ports of Half-Life for Dreamcast (which included Blue Shift) and Half-Life for PlayStation 2 (which included Half-Life: Decay); they also did a large amount of work on both the retail release of Counter-Strike and the main portion of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.

Brothers in Arms

During their fourth year, Gearbox began working on their first independently owned game: Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30. Developed for both PC and Microsoft's Xbox console, and built with the Unreal Engine 2, it was released in March 2005. The sequel, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, followed seven months later. The series was published by Ubisoft, who supported both games with PlayStation 2 versions, and later worked with them to develop Brothers in Arms games for portable systems (mobile phones, PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS) and the Wii home console.

In 2005, Gearbox licensed the Unreal Engine 3 from Epic Games, to replace the Unreal Engine 2 technology used in previous games, and grew its internal development teams to handle the demands of next-generation technology and content.[26]Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway was the first new title to be announced, continuing the company's flagship franchise.[27]

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway was launched in September 2008. By 2008, the franchise also spun off a comic book series, a two-part television documentary, a line of action figures, and a novelization and non-fiction history book.

Borderlands series

After the completion of Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, Gearbox began working on their second original game, Borderlands. First revealed in the September 2007 issue of Game Informer, Borderlands was described as "Mad Max meets Diablo", and its first-person shooter-meets-role-playing gameplay was revealed, along with screenshots of the early art style and the first three playable characters. The gaming press saw the game next at the European GamesCon in 2007, and again at GamesCon and E3 in 2008. In early 2009, it was revealed in PC Gamer magazine that they had changed the graphical style and added the fourth player character. Released in 2009, Borderlands is billed as a "role-playing shooter" (a first-person shooter with role-playing elements).

Following the unexpected[28] success of the first Borderlands, which sold between three[29] to four-and-a-half million copies since release,[30] creative director Mike Neumann stated that there was a chance of a Borderlands 2 being created, adding that the decision "seems like a no-brainer."[31] On August 2, 2011, the game was confirmed and titled as Borderlands 2. The first look at the game was shown at Gamescom 2011, and an extensive preview was included in the September edition of Game Informer magazine, with Borderlands 2 being the cover story.[32] Like the first game, Borderlands 2 was developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games, running on a heavily modified version of Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. The game was released on September 18, 2012 in North America and was released on September 21, 2012 internationally.[33][34]

Duke Nukem series

At the Penny Arcade Expo on September 3, 2010, it was announced that development of the long-awaited Duke Nukem Forever will be continued by Gearbox after the project was abandoned by 3D Realms after 12 years, with Gearbox purchasing the intellectual property of the franchise.[35] It was released by Take Two Interactive on June 10, 2011 internationally with a North American release on June 14.

In a interview with Randy Pitchford, it was revealed that Allen Blum's development team Triptych Games have been brought into the office of Gearbox, making them a separate internal developer.[36]

In the fall of 2010, Interceptor Entertainment CEO Frederik Schreiber had started throwing around the idea of doing a Duke Nukem 3D remake. Schreiber created a test map to give an idea of what it may look like, which he took screenshots of and posted on the Gearbox forums. Shortly after posting the screenshots the images and the project made their way to various gaming sites causing a small buzz within the gaming community. He first contacted Gearbox Software, who told him to contact George Broussard and Scott Miller at 3D Realms. Schreiber proceeded to contact 3D Realms. The screenshots for the project were enough to convince Scott Miller to a certain degree about the project, but the game would need Take Two's permission for it to happen.

Schreiber again contacted Gearbox, hoping they would have a better relationship with Take Two than 3D Realms. After following the proper channels within Gearbox, he was able to get in contact with PJ Putnam, the company's Vice President and General Counsel. Gearbox was interested in helping the project and Schreiber was eventually granted a "personal non-commercial license" to Duke Nukem.

Having received permission to proceed, Schreiber announced the game on October 13, 2010, under the name Duke Nukem Next-Gen, revealing he had set up a small team to work with. It was also stated the game would be based on the Unreal Engine 3 and would not require any other game for it to run. On November 4, 2010, the game was renamed to Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded.

The game has been put on an indefinite hold as of September 24, 2011, pending the resolution of differences between the Interceptor Entertainment team and Gearbox Software due to ambiguity on whether or not the finished product would actually be allowed to see release.[37]

On July 15, 2015 Gearbox confirmed that a new Duke Nukem was in development and that concept images have been made.[38]

On September 4, 2016 Gearbox announced Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour. The game includes new levels developed in conjunction with some of the original developers, re-recorded lines by original Duke voice actor Jon St. John, and new music from original composer Lee Jackson. It was released on October 11, 2016.


Released in May 2016, Battleborn is a cooperative first-person shooter video game with multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) elements. It takes place in a space fantasy setting where multiple races contest possession of the universe's last star.[39]


In 2006, they partnered with Dell and Intel to provide development computer systems and technology for their studio.[40]

In June 2007, they purchased a Moven motion capture system that uses non-optical intertia technology, to augment their existing Vicon optical motion capture system becoming one of the few independent developers with two in-house motion capture capabilities.[41]

In February 2008, it was announced that they had licensed NaturalMotion's Morpheme software.[42]

List of video games

Year Title Platform(s)
1999 Half-Life: Opposing Force Linux, macOS, Windows
2001 Half-Life: Blue Shift Linux, macOS, Windows
2001 Half-Life PlayStation 2
2001 Half-Life: Decay PlayStation 2
2002 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 Windows
2002 James Bond 007: Nightfire Windows
2003 Halo: Combat Evolved macOS, Windows
2005 Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 macOS, PlayStation 2, Windows, Xbox
2005 Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood macOS, mobile, PlayStation 2, Wii, Windows, Xbox
2006 Brothers in Arms: D-Day PlayStation Portable
2007 Brothers in Arms DS Nintendo DS
2008 Samba de Amigo Dreamcast, Wii
2008 Brothers in Arms: Double Time macOS, Wii
2008 Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
2009 Borderlands macOS, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
2011 Duke Nukem Forever macOS, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
2011 Aliens: Infestation Nintendo DS
2012 Borderlands 2 Linux, macOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360
2012 Borderlands Legends iOS
2013 Aliens: Colonial Marines PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
2014 Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! Linux, macOS, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
2015 Borderlands: The Handsome Collection PlayStation 4, Xbox One
2015 Homeworld Remastered Collection macOS, Windows
2016 Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak macOS, Windows
2016 Battleborn PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
2016 Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
2017 Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
2018 We Happy Few PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
TBA Untitled Borderlands video game[43]


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External links

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