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Borderlands 2 DLC Throws Old Voice Actor Under The Bus

Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary, the latest Borderlands 2 DLC, introduces players to Jim Foronda, the new Claptrap voice actor. Beyond Borderlands 3 trailers, the expansion marks the first time Foronda has featured in the franchise. Foronda replaces David Eddings, the actor who originated the role, a development steeped in controversy.

For those new to the situation, David Eddings and Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford have engaged in an ongoing dispute via social media. According to Eddings, he did not reprise his role as Claptrap in Borderlands 3 because Gearbox refused his demands for compensation. "For the first time, I insisted on getting paid for my performance and all of a sudden they couldn't afford me," tweeted Eddings on May 2. The tweet also references an alleged $12 million executive bonus taken by Pitchford without the knowledge of his employees.

Gearbox addressed Eddings tweet in a statement the following day: "We offer the opportunity for salaried employees to voice characters in the game, but is not a mandatory responsibility to their job requirements," an official 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." Eddings worked as Gearbox's VP of business development for almost 12 years before accepting a position as Rooster Teeth's head of game publishing.

Not content to let the matter lie, Pitchford took to Twitter on May 4 with a statement of his own. "There was no "force" – He wanted it (and reveled in it)," Pitchford said. "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."

Pitchford's response struck a chord with Eddings, who fired back with a chain of tweets on May 6. In the chain, the former employee claims that he offered to voice Claptrap for free in return for past royalties and an apology from Pitchford. "Randy physically assaulted me in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis at GDC 2017," said Eddings. "Personally, I think Randy's been on tilt the last few years. He's not the victim he portrays himself to be." In a subsequent interview with Newsweek, Eddings claimed that Pitchford "rage fired" him for uncovering knowledge of Gearbox's potential sale.

Though many fans have accepted the new casting choice and set their sights on Borderlands 3, it seems Gearbox may not be ready to let the conflict go. Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary, intended to bridge the gap between Borderlands 2 and 3, includes a Claptrap sidequest called "Claptocurrency." The questline centers on Claptrap's attempts to amass a fortune through backstabbing and other nefarious methods. The scheme goes horribly wrong, culminating in the robot begging Lilith to give him his job back.

Some players have interpreted the quest and its conclusion as a pot shot at Eddings, including Eddings himself. "Yet another sad attempt by Randy to paint me in a false light," he tweeted on June 23. The message included a screenshot of his response to Joel McDonald in November 2018 when first asked about returning to voice Claptrap.

While Pitchford does not oversee all aspects of development, it's difficult not to draw parallels between the quest and the ongoing feud. Portraying Claptrap as a disgruntled employee who betrayed their boss's trust in pursuit of a money-making scheme seems a bit on the nose. At one point, the robot even tells Lilith "I'm sorry I abandoned you in your time of need," to which she benevolently responds "okay."

Intentional or not, hopefully Borderlands 3 won't include any further personal attacks. Between Eddings' allegations of bullying and assault, ongoing lawsuits between Gearbox and former general counsel Wade Callender, and conflicting stories surrounding the recasting of Rhys, there's a lot of blood in the water. Despite the controversy, Borderlands 3 claimed a spot on GameStop's list of E3 2019 games with the most pre-orders. Coming in at number 5, it beat out Link's Awakening and Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order.

Borderlands 3 releases on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 13 with a later launch planned for Google Stadia.