Oh, Gearbox. You make me so sad.
Did you really think this game needed another negative article written about it? Geez, someone didn't pay off the media enough with this one.
Did we really need another comment about it? Probably not.
Freedomtown is right though. Alex isn't saying anything new nor has he dug up any info on what the hell happened to the game. It's just whinging for the sake of whinging.
I like Alex and I like this feature, but this article doesn't do anything but state the obvious.
What's whinging and who's doing it?
I hope Gearbox learned their lesson here. Any game developer could learn from this experience by:
1. Not outsourcing their work
2. Not taking on more than one project at a time.
That last point is especially important. Speaking from experience, making a game takes a lot of work. The bigger the scope, the more time is needed to complete it. Some developers can't even manage one game properly, so working on two seems like suicide. Gearbox spread themselves thin, and as a result they hurt their relationship with Sega. It won't be surprising if Sega ends up suing them; they were good enough to give Gearbox extensions and everything, but it seems that was all for nothing.
Silicon Knights went through a similar problem with X-Men Destiny. I don't normally condone reading anything at Kotaku, but that one article they had about it is good.
Randy pitchford seems more fitted to be a used car sales man.
Okay, this game was dishonestly marketed and due to insider stories there are serious questions to be asked about Gearbox's dev practices. I still think this whole thing of 'Randy lied to us' is a bit of a red herring. We get lied to by marketing all the time, but the difference is people tend to let the lies slide when the final product turns out to be at least average. If we make more of an effort not to get caught up in pre-release hype, then all the BS of the kind that Pitchford spouted becomes nothing more than one hand clapping.
I hear you man, I think people acting outraged by "Randy lying" is just silly, because what else would he say really? Marketing and advertising is about making noise about your product and getting people excited about it. You don't start a job interview by apologizing, no, you act confident about yourself. Just as a head of a studio should act when asked about the quality of their projects. And we can be sure that all E3 demos are polished and doctored as close to the perfection as possible, because they'll be pitted in the same expo hall against hundreds of others demos, which have gone through similar process.
That said, Gearbox messed up royally and deserve most of the shit they're getting, but the question remains to be answered what really went wrong? I'm guessing some strategical gamble was made or maybe Sega just threatened with a lawsuit if the deadline wasn't met. But I doubt Pitchford is twirling his moustache and patting himself in the back for a job well done, like people who bought into the hype and got disappointed make it sound.
All in all I think the whole case serves as a good reminder to everyone to read the reviews before buying, and not supporting the frustrating pre-order trend.
I would love to see a follow up on the sales numbers of this game. It might have tarnished Gearbox's name but I'm afraid it could be a financial success nonetheless. At least I think they made their money back.
I think my favourite part of all this is the way people have turned on Randy Pitchford for being a snake oil salesman. I remember a few months ago on Quoted for Truth when Tom McShea referred to him as a blowhard that will "lie to your face for one more sale," and people jumped all over him for it. Now everyone is saying that
Because now, everyone has seen for themselves what McShea had seen then.
Mark me as part of the Pitchford Swindler's Club. It's not that I think he said things with definite falsehood in his heart; it's that he did nothing to repair those statements and allowed his team to glorify their couple of truly awful games until the day they released, when suddenly everybody went radio silent. The same happened with Duke, with press release after video teaser, and Pitchford saying himself that "Everyone who's a gamer has to play Duke Nukem Forever." If the man would allow garbage to slink off into the night, I could forgive him, but he's too much a salesman to be a friend.
Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I'm not buying any more Gearbox games in the future. It's not even a matter of a boycott, it's that I think they make some boring-ass and/or terrible games. I'd say "wait for reviews," but Borderlands 2 received more acclaim than the original game; forgive me for saying that does not seem to match the press's engagement in the game or my own personal feelings on it. (It's not a terrible game, I just found it boring. Not the point.) I'll probably try some used (or at friends' houses, should the used market truly disappear) but I think Gearbox just isn't for me.
I do hope that people take this moment and seriously consider what voting with your wallet really means. There are so many games you can buy; the number of people on this site who have played Ni No Kuni, Antichamber, Kentucky Route Zero, Proteus, AND Fire Emblem: Awakening are almost definitely a limited quantity. I'm not saying everyone should play all those games; I'm simply saying that you should maybe get them instead of Dead Space 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, or DmC if those games make you angry. (For the record, I adored DmC and disagree that it's worth being angry about.)
Ya dun goofed, Randy! Memeland 3 has to be solid or Gearbox may be in trouble.
Good article. This situation is especially depressing for me, due to how big of a Brothers in Arms fan I am. I absolutely adore those three games, and have been eagerly anticipating the next one. However, after all this crap, it'll be very hard for me to hear anything about the return to the series that they have been talking about. If something this mediocre is what I have to look forward to...yeesh. They're going to have to really work in order to earn back the trust of a lot of their fans. I hope they can do it.
I actually feel bad for the guy (RP). They probably had all this great tech and failed in the home stretch for some reason or another. What are you going to do if you promise big and your project starts to crumble in the eleventh hour? Would anybody here really tell everybody that it's not going to be as good as we thought?
To be fair, they screwed themselves by telling us they could deliver. Sucks. Just a sick, embarrassing situation all around. Sadly, with all of the recent studio closings too, Gearbox isn't exactly proving they deserve our money either.
It's like planking, but you pretend you're a hinge. All the kids are doing it.
On topic, though, I'm a little surprised at the amount of coverage this game is getting. Maybe I just wasn't following it as closely as everyone else, but none of the press hype made it look like anything other than a bargain-bin, IP cash-in, and now that it's out everyone's acting like it's the end of the world. Shitty games come out all the time, marketing is weird, why was everyone so goddam excited for this?
hugely let down by this game
@frostedminiwheats: I think a big part of the difference is the cost to the consumer. If I buy a new book that ends up being shit, I'm out 2-15 dollars depending on where I buy it, or I'm out nothing if someone loans me it or I go to a library to borrow it. A bad new album would put me down 5-10 dollars or so from Amazon MP3 or Bandcamp. A bad new movie would leave me out 7-12 dollars depending on what time and where I see it.
With A:CM loads of people preordered a bad/mediocre game based on marketing hype and 9 month old demo footage, putting them out 60 dollars for the game and maybe an extra 30 if they went crazy and got the DLC season pack for it right off the bat as well.
There's a huge difference in cost between those things, and I think the main reason why people are so vocally upset about this is because they're out so much more compared to those different things.
And as for 7/10 being considered low, that probably has a lot to do with games being graded on a 1-100 point scale for so long where 70 (C) was considered an average, as opposed to how it's becoming more common for reviews to be out of 1-5 with 3 being average. Where as most movie/book/music reviews have held that the middle of the scale is average for a long time, not weighted in such a way that 70% is the baseline.
A tester for ALIENS: colonial marines WII-U has spoken out on reddit before the statement was removed and his account deleted. He contradicted the gearbox statement when they said the WII-U version is the definitive version, the anonymous user said it is in fact the worst of all versions. With tedious and dull minigames and even worse AI. He was also slapped with a cease and desist order from SEGA and gearbox.
He also said, and I'm paraphrasing here so bare with me.
"The money Sega paid to Gearbox for working on Aliens: Colonial Marines was used for Borderlands 2 instead."
If this is the case, gearbox games have committed fraud. Misuse of budget for film, television or video games is quite a serious offense. I think we kind of have our answers people. But I am still confused (if the case may be) as to why SEGA are covering for the development team if gearbox half swiped money intended for one product and was used for another? What are your thoughts to this anonymous reddit user? Is there truth to his statements? (Besides the fact that the WII-U version will totally suck.)
Great read good sir. A shame how this game came out
After Duke Nukem Forever, you'd think Gearbox would be less excited to pickup a troubled project like A:CM. Of course the success of Sleeping Dogs is just going to encourage more studios to try saving projects that can't be salvaged.
I worked for a company where the people in charge did exactly this sort of thing. It wasn't video game development mind you but it was a lot of phone talks in the likes of: "of course we can do that, thats no problem for us we've done these things hundreds of times already, ok see you next week *phone click* ok find out if this can be done, and if not who can do it for us and how much" - it was the basic mentality to take on any project, talk it up, then run around wildly trying to figure out how were even going to accomplish the things we promised - all because it was potential money to be earned.
@thevampireboy: Would a tester, not the QA lead but just a regular tester, ever be in a position to actually know how the money from a publisher was spent?
What i'm particularly confused about is all this outsourcing that Gearbox apparently uses as standard practice.
I don't consider myself "in the know" when it comes to devs and their business practices so outsourcing may not be a new or uncommon thing, but to me it seems to be the most egregiously recognizable with Gearbox.
They outsourced what appears to be vast parts of this game for years and with the development hell its gone through and it just being on the back burner in general i can understand why. But even their hallmark franchise (Borderlands) they outsource all their DLC.
I'm not trying to suggest that outsourcing part of your game is wrong but i just genuinely don't understand it and looking for clarification especially when you consider all the interviews pitchford does where he says him and the team care so much and are so passionate about the game like it's their baby
Great read Alex. It's sad that Aliens was such a gigantic clusterfuck.
@CircleNine: I don't know whether or not you misread what I wrote. I too have my own reservations about the statement, I too have the same thought going round my head. Whether he is Q/A or just an outside tester, how does he know of money changing hands? That I feel is a deeper question. Maybe this person has inside ties to someone within gearbox? I dunno. But I mentioned all the doubts of the solidity of his statement I have. I read it on gaming blend, I'll get you a link. Gotta read it all, but the statement is in there. 6th paragraph down I believe.
Astute observations, Alex!
At least Gearbox made sure Borderlands 2 functioned before lying to Sega and telling them they were working on Aliens
Gearbox were signed on to make this game in December of 2006, a game like this that is only 4-5 hours long with a multiplayer component that is bare should have only taken that studio a year and a half to make, not 6 years. Unless you're Rockstar then you don't have an excuse to take anymore than 3 years to make a shooter and Sega should have known better since it's their money Gearbox is wasting.
This game is the equivalent of Duke Nukem, everyone waited a long time, and got nothing for their patience. Plus GearBox, who CAN make good games did nothing to further the industry along with this. And guess what? They did the same with Duke Nukem lol.
like many things that happen when the internet gets its drawers in a twist, I fail to see the exact problem. They made a game that game reviewers think is average at best and broken at worst.
But the way it's being discussed makes it sounds like the game won't even make it past the menu stage or that your game playing device will start smoking when you put the disc in.
I don't get it.
Well-loved license in the hopper for better part of six years from a trusted games' maker helmed by a very public spokesperson. The game produced barely resembles what was promised by that spokesperson all those times over the long years of development. Media shitstorm ensues.
Some of you people are fucking morons. People were LIED to, that's why they're pissed off. When you call a demo actual in game footage and none of that footage ends up in the fucking game that's a lie. When you say you're a massive fan of the series and it's a dream project then pawn it off on 3 other studios that's a lie. When you pass something off as one thing when in reality it's something entirely different, as seen in the demo to retail comparison video, that's a lie. Then to call that "story", if it can be called that, canon is a fucking insult to each and every single person that worked on any of those films. Even the shitty ones.
Watch that. That's what people were basing purchases off of. NONE of that shit ended up in the game. Do not for one fucking second tell anybody that spent 50-60 bucks they have no reason to be pissed off. This should be the fucking poster boy for false advertising. Because, and I'll be honest, if that was the game I got I'd be happy. But that wasn't the game I got. It wasn't even in the same galaxy much less neighborhood.
Gearbox fucking stinks and I can say with absolute certainty I won't be playing any of their games anytime soon. I wouldn't even waste bandwidth and torrent the shit they shovel. But I did learn one thing, never ever pre-order. I typically never do but my inner fanboy got the better of me.
Hey, at least it's not on rails!
I'm surprised there were people that actually thought this game was going to be good. I've been under the impression that it was gonna be a shitshow for a while now.
Great article, Alex.
Last month, I was visiting my brother and sister, and their families in Chico, California for a late Christmas Gathering. I was doing my best to recover from a Mucus chest cold at the time. My brother took me to the Mall so he could get me an X-Box game at Gamestop for a Christmas Present. I chose Dishonored, which I don't regret: It's a great game. We proceeded to the check-out stand, and the salesman told us they were doing pre-orders for Aliens: Colonial Marines. Tom, my brother, instantly did the order, because his young son Jason, loves the Alien movies, and he loves X-Box games.
Just seeing all these negative reviews, and how everyone is screaming bloody murder at Randy Pitchford makes me very nervous about whether Jason will truly love the game or hate it. As for me, I'm convinced this game is not good, and I don't think I'm going to buy it.
Super bummed out that this isn't about Reality Bites.
I love that movie.
Nice read, Alex.
Yeah but at least Ken Levine has openly said "The game is no longer what we showed. We had to change it." etc etc.
I feel confident in saying the Brothers in Arms series, while not perfect, are the most polished games Gearbox has put out.Borderlands, while good, has obvious short cuts, blurry textures disguised by its art style, stiff animation, basic gameplay, simple but loot driven enough to be casually addictive.Aside from those Gearbox hasn't really made great games, the Half Life expansions were pure content and too old to count for anything now, and the Halo port was good enough despite weird 30 fps limited animations.Gearbox has made 'good enough' games, it remains to be seen if that is good for their future.
It definitely sounds like the exact scenario as what happened with Silicon Knights. They agreed to make a licensed X-Men game but diverted a lot of the time and money towards building an Eternal Darkness sequel prototype (assuming what I heard was true).
Wouldn't be entirely surprised if that's accurate. They knew Borderlands 2 would be the guaranteed breadwinner over Aliens, and they clearly didn't have the time for both.
Also, Randy Pitchford has been anything but forthcoming with any studio failures. Didn't they brag about how even though DNF was bad, it still sold well?
Gearbox is privately owned, right? So they don't have to answer to anyone?
I feel kinda bad for Sega, they were screwed over by Gearbox over Borderlands 2.
To imply that gearbox "shovels shit" just because YOU got burned on a shitty product is a bit presumptive. Because YOU were the dummy that bought a game where all signs pointed to it sucking. Because YOU didnt wait for reviews. Guess what, it's Pitchford's job to talk up his games, just like its any product creator's job to talk their product up. If someone wants to sue pitchford or gearbox(be it a class action lawsuit or sega suing because they were mislead by gearbox) that is different. But to just run around the internet and slander a company that makes good product normally , just because YOU are the dummy that ate the shit?
Thats an asshole thing to do, because in the end you dont know the story behind what happened at Gearbox that made the game come out like that. I bought Street Fighter X Tekken and it was probably the worst game i played. The online was trash, no one was playing, the mechanics were broken, and the characters were out of balance. But i didnt go online and bitch about how "i got mislead by capcom" and how Ono should lose his job for misleading fans. I understand that it is their job to hype up their game. I got burned, i moved on and dealt with it. I'm not telling you that you shouldnt be pissed, im telling you you shouldnt be an asshole.
To take it a step further: just because the game, and the result, means nothing to you, doesn't mean it means nothing to the industry, especially with this whole part about using Sega money to fund Borderlands 2. This IS a big deal and it goes further than "over-hyped game turns out to be shit."
@undeadpool: But in the end that is all rumors and heresay. Sega would have to take them to court to find that out. Even then it would most likely be a tough case. Especially if gearbox has good book-keepers.
I feel kinda bad for Sega, they were screwed over by Gearbox over Borderlands 2.
Let's hold our horses on this. There's no proof that this is what happened. There's no doubt that development of Colonial Marines was a clusterfuck with all of the fingerpointing and hearsay, but saying that Gearbox screwed Sega just so they could produce Borderlands 2 is just making assumptions.
@draxyle: I reckon this happens more then we care to realize. A publisher lends money to a developer and they squander the money on a game which is being published by a rival publisher (2K in this instance.). It really does paint gearbox in a bad way and future publishers may find it difficult to trust them if they make this a niche of theirs. But like I said, the picture isn't fully in front of me, so I'm counting it a speculation... Highly plausible speculation, non the less.
this is absolutely VITAL games journalism thank you for exposing the true horror of this monstrosity to the public you are doing humanity a great service
It really bums be out that this game turned out so poorly. I was really looking forward to it.
Oh, I didn't hear about that. Dang. And I wasn't trying to say 'this means nothing to me and is thus unimportant', I was just unclear on what made this particular game so special. Shady business shenanigans I can understand though.
great article, nice to see all the info in one place