||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (April 2013)|
|Industry||Computer and video games
|Founded||February 16, 1999|
|Headquarters||Plano, Texas, U.S.|
|Products||Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, Half Life expansions, Duke Nukem Forever, Borderlands 2, Aliens: Colonial Marines|
Gearbox Software was founded on February 16, 1999 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. 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 and the science-fiction classic Aliens. In the September 2007 issue of Game Informer, a new game franchise was revealed, the sci-fi shooter Borderlands, 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. 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.
Acquiring Duke Nukem and Controversies
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". On September 3, 2010, it was announced through their Twitter feed that they are behind Duke Nukem Forever.
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 disparate critical reception on release, with most of the criticism directed towards the unfinished, rushed state of the game. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, creator of Zero Punctuation, listed it as #2 on his list of the worst games of 2011.
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 games 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 about the number of people working on each project. This led to the round of layoffs at Gearbox in late 2008."
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.
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. Also in April, Gearbox acquired the Homeworld franchise from THQ during its bankruptcy auction.
Gearbox have 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 secretly working on their first internally driven and independently owned game: Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30. Developed for both PC and Microsoft's Xbox console, and built with the Unreal 2 engine, this game 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 3 engine from Epic Games, to replace the Unreal 2 engine technology used in previous games, and grew its internal development teams to handle the demands of next-generation technology and content. Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway was the first new title to be announced, continuing the company's flagship franchise.
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.
After the completion of Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, Gearbox began working on their second original game franchise, Borderlands. First revealed in the September 2007 issue of Game Informer, Borderlands was described as "Mad Max meets Diablo", and its FPS-meets-RPG 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), and demonstrates Gearbox's continued support for the Unreal 3 Engine.
On August 2, 2011, Gearbox announced a sequel to Borderlands to be called Borderlands 2. Gameplay for the game was released at PAX Prime. On April 8, 2012, in Pax East 2012, they presented the four new characters in Borderlands 2: Maya, Salvador, Zer0, and Axton.
Following the unexpected success of the first Borderlands, which sold between three to four-and-a-half million copies since release, 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." On August 2, 2011, the game was officially 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. 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.
Gearbox revealed that they would be honoring a late fan of the game, cancer victim Michael John Mamaril, with the addition of an NPC named after Michael in the sequel. Additionally, Gearbox posted a eulogy to Mamaril in the voice of the game character, Claptrap.
Despite the commercial and critical acclaim of Borderlands 2, Randy Pitchford, the CEO of Gearbox Software, has confirmed that Borderlands 3 is not in development as of February 2014.
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. It was released by Take Two Interactive on June 10, 2011 internationally with a North American release on June 14.
In a Wired.com 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.
In the fall of 2010, Frederik Schreiber had started throwing around the idea of doing a Duke Nukem 3D remake. Schreiber then created a test map to give an idea of what it may look like, which he then 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, Vice President and General Counsel of Gearbox Software. Gearbox was interested in helping the project and Schreiber was eventually granted a "personal non-commercial license" to Duke Nukem.
Having received official permission to proceed, Schreiber officially 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 officially 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.
Gearbox have developed using a number of existing game engines for various projects, including GoldSrc, RenderWare, Bungie's Halo, Unreal 2 and Unreal 3. They have completed games on a variety of game platforms, including the PC, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Microsoft Windows.
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.
SHiFT is GearBox Software's way to reward fans with additional in-game items for Borderlands 2, such as in-game keys for chests, loot and other goodies. It is not compatible with redeeming pre-order bonuses like Premiere Club. SHiFT can link to PlayStation Network, Steam and Xbox Live accounts through the Borderlands 2 in-game menu, or through its website. On 5 and 6 October 2012 Gearbox released several redeemable SHiFT codes for all platforms. 5 codes per platform were released. A second round of SHiFT codes were released on 26 and 27 October 2012, for a total of five extra golden keys.
Internal focus testing
In late 2008, they started doing internal focus testing on their current projects. Gamers in the Dallas area have the opportunity to visit their office in Plano, Texas and play unreleased games and give feedback.
List of video games
|1999||Half-Life: Opposing Force||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2001||Half-Life: Blue Shift||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2002||Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2002||James Bond 007: Nightfire||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2003||Halo: Combat Evolved (port)||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2004||Counter-Strike: Condition Zero||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2005||Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|2005||Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|2006||Brothers in Arms: D-Day||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|2007||Brothers in Arms DS||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|2008||Brothers in Arms: Art of War||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|2008||Brothers in Arms||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|2008||Samba de Amigo||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|2008||Brothers in Arms: Double Time||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|2008||Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2008||Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|2010||Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|2011||Duke Nukem Forever||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2013||Aliens: Colonial Marines||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2014||Homeworld 2 HD||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|TBD||Untitled Duke Nukem sequel||No||TBA||No||TBA||No||TBA||No||No||No||No||TBA||TBA||No||TBA|
|TBD||Brothers in Arms 4: Battle of the Bulge||No||TBA||No||TBA||No||TBA||No||No||No||No||TBA||TBA||No||TBA|
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- "SEGA and Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising to bring Alien franchise to next-gen systems". Retrieved 2006-12-17.
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- "Borderlands 2 Panel: Salvador Gunzerker, Maya Siren". 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
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- "Borderlands 3 isn't currently in development". PC Gamer. 2014-02-14.
- Hartman, Garrett. "Gearbox Announces: "We Own Duke Nukem"". RipTen.
- High, Kamau (2010-09-03). "Controversial 'Duke Nukem Forever' Will Finally Be Released". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
- Kohler, Chris (2010-09-08). "Q&A: How Randy Pitchford Saved Duke Nukem Forever". Wired.com. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- Schreiber, Frederik. "Public Announcement". Project Lead. Interceptor Entertainment. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- "Dell Case Study: Gearbox Software: Go Further". Dell, Inc. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- "Big Leap Forward for Animation Production at Gearbox" (Press release). Xsens Technologies B.V. 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
- "Gearbox Licenses NaturalMotion's Morpheme". Retrieved 2008-02-14.[dead link]
- Borderlands 2 Golden Keys Incoming