The release and aftermath of Aliens: Colonial Marines has been one of the biggest video game industry fiascos for some time. There’s been plenty of rumours circulating regarding the alleged friction between Sega and developer Gearbox which may have resulted in the poor quality of the final product. But there are precious little facts.
This may all change due to the news of American law firm Edelson LLC’s filing of a class action lawsuit against Sega and Gearbox for the false advertising of Aliens: Colonial Marines before launch.
There’s no doubt that Aliens: Colonial Marines was an absolute travesty that betrayed the trust of everyone that was willing to pre-order it. But does Sega deserve to be punished for letting this happen in the first place? Hit the jump to find out what we think.
Mike Kyzivat: Does Sega deserve to be punished for Aliens: Colonial Marines? The short answer is yes, but the harder question is how much should they be punished, and that, is a tougher question.
It depends on a lot of factors, like did Sega know that Gearbox was farming out the single player campaign to another company? Did Sega know that the demo released prior to the full release was not representative of how the game would actually be played? Did Gearbox purposely give Sega false information as to how the game was coming along? How hands on was Sega in keeping up with Gearbox’s progress? All these factors have to be taken into consideration when doling out punishment to Sega. In other words the more Sega knew about the game prior to release the more severe the punishment should be.
Sega will probably argue that they didn’t know a thing until the game was ready for release. But one thing we do know is that Sega, after getting the final copy of the game, must have played through it and seen how it misrepresented what came previously (as well as just how bad a game it is) yet still decided to release it even in it’s current state.
At the 11 hour Sega would have known that this game was not what it had previously said it was, and so should have done the right thing and not released it. Instead they did the greedy thing. and they should at least be punished for that.
Tommy Carver-Chaplin: There are so many different factors as to what made Aliens: Colonial Marines so heartbreaking, and while they are nearly all the fault of Gearbox in some way, it’s harder to put the blame on Sega without the full story. As an outside party we’ve latched onto every scrap of information we could and while it’s certainly painted a picture, it’s not the full one.
Did Sega knowingly put out unrepresentative trailers? Maybe, but maybe it was pure deception by Gearbox. Why weren’t Sega more aware of the poor development of the title – were they lazy or misinformed? What was Sega’s role in TimeGate’s involvement? Ultimately, I think it’s going to come to light that Sega are partially at fault for the mess, but not nearly to the extent of Gearbox, but it needs to be investigated.
Kris Knigge: This is kind of a challenging topic. On the one hand, we don’t have all the details of Colonial Marines‘s development, so we don’t know if it’s more of a Sega problem or a Gearbox problem. On the other hand, it seemed like Sega, with staff acting as producers of and PR for the title, should have been more honest, or at least released a product more in line with what they showed. An apology would be nice, but punishment sounds a bit harsh. Then again, if I’d preordered Colonial Marines and didn’t hear about the issues with the product due to the review embargo, I might be calling for blood. I’m going to take a neutral stance on this one.
Josh Newey: As we’ve seen in the constant flow of embarrassing news stories and even more shameful reviews, there are a lot of complex elements pulling at all sides of Aliens: Colonial Marines, and attempting to judge the liability of either company from the outside is a frustratingly muddy venture. Sega’s fishy handling of the game’s publicity and release is certainly damning, but demanding some financial restitution for misleading advertising strikes me as a bit over the top.
In my mind, the condemnations of the press, the myriad scorned consumers, and a potentially irreversibly marred reputation are Sega’s punishment. Yes, the initial game was profitable, but with that fleeting success came one of the most publicized and horrifying gaming scandals since 2008’s Too Human. It’s now up to the gaming community to vote with their dollars. We as consumers regularly make the willing decision to preorder games and purchase season passes with little to no solid information ahead of time. We need to stop supporting such disgusting practices, and while a lawsuit could help in that fight, I think it takes some of the ownness off of us for supporting it through years.
Michael Westgarth: If you’d have asked me even five years ago if I thought Sega would ever publish a game so bad that it’d be sued over it, I’d have called you mad. But it’s only been in the last few years that the industry wide publisher-customer relationship has started to crumble, and the only mad people are the angered Sega customers who spent their money on a faulty product. These are the people that put the most money into Sega’s pockets, thinking that the infamous Aliens: Colonial Marines demo footage would be indicative of the final gaming experience, and these are the people that have suffered the most because of it.
Yes, Gearbox may have deceived gamers, the press and Sega, but I simply cannot entertain the idea that Sega was not aware of how unfinished Aliens: Colonial Marines was before launch. If Sega really did put its name on a product without even checking its quality, then those involved at Sega are stupider than this whole fiasco is already making them look.
I’m a Sega fan. I want Sega to succeed in this industry. But what Sega have done to their own fans and fans of the Aliens franchise absolutely deserves punishment in some form or another. In fact, I believe Sega owning up to its mistake is the only way it’ll recover its dented reputation.
Assuming the general stories (as to how everything went down) we’ve been hearing are true, I’m completely with Mike. Gearbox should pay 75% of the fine, Sega 25%. The captain of the ship is responsible for everything going on in their ship.