Hey guys. It’s me. Randy Pitchford.† The Randster. I realize that many of you might be a little cranky that I recently gave an interview to Game Industry rather than the folks here at SEGA Nerds.
I feel your pain.
That’s why I insisted on dropping by to clarify my comments. G*ddamn, I’m such a great guy.
As many of you know, SEGA tasked my company, Gearbox with creating Aliens: Colonial Marines, which essentially turned out being the equivalent of taking a six-year-long dump. A beefy, melty, mucus-lined Dumbo-dump. I get it. We made a sh*tty game. But that sh*t happens sometimes. Like any other forms of entertainment, most games aren’t great, and many of them are garbage. Colonial Marines, in context, is a rather unremarkable case study in that sense.
What makes the Colonial Marines story persistently fascinating is the lawsuit that followed. Both SEGA and Gearbox were accused of misleading and lying to the public to sell our game. Suddenly we were held to new, ludicrous advertising standards, and we were asked to defend work-in-progress trailers, concept footage shown at trade shows, and TV ads which showed sizzle-footage used to promote the game, despite none of it ever being labeled as final, “in-game” footage.
Our ad campaign was not unlike that of most other video games. Game commercials are filled with material that is designed to give you a “sense” of the game rather than to show off the game itself. EA and Activision both do this as a general rule. How many games since the mid-nineties have shown cut scene footage in their commercials with the intention of the viewers believing that it is actual gameplay? Maybe all of them?
Of course our trade show footage also looked better than the final product! The same could be said for Ubisoft games like Watchdogs, Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed Unity. The same could also be said for “concept footage” of the Nintendo 64 (Project Reality) and the PlayStation 2 platforms when they were announced. The final product didn’t look anywhere near as impressive as the earlier reveals. Over-promised and under-delivered? For f*ck’s sake! Have you never heard Peter Molyneux say- well- say anything?
You want to call it misleading? Maybe, maybe I could go with you there. But when you want to call it “lying” and go so far as to sue over it when there is no deliberate message being laid out that what you are seeing is the actual game, well, I wonder what century you’re living in.
“Misleading.” Jesus Christ. Media advertising is always calculated, targeted, and manipulated to drive revenues. Take movies, for instance. How many people remember how quickly Steven Seagal died in Executive Decision? The same could be said for Michael Douglas in The Ghost and the Darkness. Those guys were headlining actors for those movies, and the trailers sure seemed to over-emphasize their role. While we’re at it, who saw the movie Stepmom? That thing was blatantly billed as a heart-warming comedy, but unlucky suckers nationwide were duped into seeing a very unfunny movie about a broken family dealing with their matriarch slowly dying of cancer. Hilarious. Sounds like a law suit to me.
Things change in mid-development in other media as well. Again, let’s follow Hollywood’s lead. Remember that scene in the Iron Man 2 trailer when Pepper kisses the Iron Man helmet before tossing it out of the back of a plane? That didn’t make the final cut of the film. The Crow became a completely different movie after Brandon Lee died. Return of the Jedi was originally promoted as Revenge of the Jedi. Some of these changes may be small, but in no way was anyone legally entitled to see a particular version of a movie that they themselves felt they deserved, or were “promised,” no matter how large or small their petty qualm demanded.
You may be wondering why I sound so level-headed today as opposed to the other times I’ve been here at SEGA Nerds. Well, this may be the first time I’ve said anything in relation to Aliens: Colonial Marines that actually makes a lick of sense.
The lawsuit was frivolous. As I said in the Game Industry interview, it “was a huge waste of time,” and “the market proved it was doing its job perfectly… by punishing what it doesn’t (like).” The plaintiffs “lost since they didn’t have a legitimate case.”
Even in losing though, game creators and game players are both worse off for for the case moving forward in the first place. The only result will be a closing off of communications between developers and the public for fear that something discussed off-the-cuff or shown as a “work-in-development” will later be defined as a set-in-stone, contractually binding pact enforced by the threat of multimillion-dollar punitive damages.
You’re pissed that you dropped $60 on a bad game? I get it. F*cking hell, though, Gearbox had just dropped a Duke Nukem on the industry less than two years prior. If, after that, you still blindly bought Aliens on day one without waiting for the reviews to come in, you either weren’t paying attention, or you’re a very, very “something-something,” and even this lawsuit isn’t going to prevent your myopic drivel-brain from making the same mistake time and time again. I hope you’ve got a good lawyer.
Now f*ck off.
Oh, and buy Borderlands, kids.
†Disclaimer: Randy Pitchford has never actually communicated with anyone at SEGA Nerds regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines. The depiction of him on this site is intended for comedic purposes only.
Customer: Hey! My Whopper doesn’t have any tomatoes!
Lie-peddling cashier: Oh, I’m sorry sir. We’re out of tomatoes.