Now a round table discussion
As many had already predicted earlier this year, the entire mess surrounding the controversial release of Aliens: Colonial Marines has resulted in the first class-action lawsuit. Unsurprisingly, both Sega and Gearbox Software feel that the suit has no merit and will not stand in the court of law.
The Escapist has an update on the suit that was brought about by Edelson LLC on behalf of Damion Perrine. As mentioned in the previous article regarding the matter, Edelson claims that Sega and Gearbox Software need to be held accountable for misleading gamers promotional material, including the E3 2011 demonstration and subsequent screenshots from the E3 build that did not actually exist as a distributable product. Worse yet was the outing of charges of embezzlement, financial mismanagement, political office in-fighting and blame-gaming that followed the initial controversy.
According to a Sega representative...
“Sega cannot comment on specifics of ongoing litigation, but we are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and we will defend it vigorously."
Gearbox Software also had someone comment on the ongoing litigation and issued a damage controlled response to Kotaku, stating...
"Attempting to wring a class action lawsuit out of a demonstration is beyond meritless. We continue to support the game, and will defend the rights of entertainers to share their works-in-progress without fear of frivolous litigation."
I don't think anyone has any issue with work-in-progress videos. That's fine. However, the problem with Aliens: Colonial Marines, is that according to employees who spoke anonymously on several occasions, the demo build from E3 2011 was a completely separate project designed in two months for the sole purpose of wow'ing audiences.
Furthermore, Jim Sterling from Destructoid and some of Kotaku's own interviewed some of these employees and found that the final version of Aliens: Colonial Marines that was released to the public was finished in nine months time by Gearbox Studios, and had no ties to the E3 2011 vertical slice, which was designed entirely by TimeGate Studios, a company who recently filed for bankruptcy protection. In essence, what was demoed to the public and what was released were literally two completely different projects, with the E3 2011 slice being the main media vehicle throughout the promotional campaign for Aliens: Colonial Marines.
There's plenty of merit to the lawsuit based on what's publicly available for anyone to read up about regarding the development and promotion of Aliens: Colonial Marines. What's more is that if any employee from any of the involved parties decide to testify, it would only make matters worse for both Gearbox and Sega.
The general gist is that more and more information has come out that the entire development process of this game was farmed out to other studios while Gearbox made Borderlands 2. This is a very important case simply because we're now entering the time when we need to take developers to task for tactics like this. Beyond terrible advertising like the Dead Island statue, this reveals a level of developer bullshit and secrecy that shows that Dev drama is always going to be there.