Whilst SEGA has already admitted to showing versions of Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines that didn’t match up with the finished product, that’s not the end of the story.
Overnight both Gearbox and SEGA have become the defendants in a lawsuit that claims the game was falsely advertised, the claim mainly citing trade shows like E3 and PAX, the versions of the game shown at those shows and the difference between those and the final product.
Randy Pitchford called the earlier demos “actual gameplay” – and whilst that might well have been true at the time, when the game was finally released it was visually poorer with sub-standard AI, something I picked up on in our review.
The suit also says that by embargoing reviews until the day of release the public couldn’t find out about the differences between the earlier demos and the final code.
This video from VideoGamer highlights the differences.
“Each of the ‘actual gameplay’ demonstrations purported to show consumers exactly what they would be buying: a cutting edge video game with very specific features and qualities,” says the claim.
“Unfortunately for their fans, Defendants never told anyone — consumers, industry critics, reviewers, or reporters — that their ‘actual gameplay’ demonstration advertising campaign bore little resemblance to the retail product that would eventually be sold to a large community of unwitting purchasers.”
I have a couple of issues with the suit, which is detailed here. Firstly, trade show demos that don’t match up with final gameplay aren’t rare (hello, Killzone 2) and there was nothing to stop the public waiting a day or two for the reviews to surface.
Most pre-release videos clearly state that the version shown isn’t final, though.
Pre-ordering is something that has become every more important in the industry, but it’s rarely essential unless you really want those special editions (something the publishers are well aware of).
That said, I do agree that – from where I’m sitting – the game was marketed as being something it wasn’t. The end result wasn’t a patch on earlier demos, in my opinion.
Aliens was released in February on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The Wii U version, long touted as the ‘superior’ version, quietly vanished.