Waiting for the Hammer to Fall – Aliens:CM Lawsuit

Last week I wrote about how developers and publishers in the video game industry seem to be taking our business for granted, and how we shouldn’t be rolling over and letting them get away with it. One of the examples I dredged up from the sewers of shame was the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, made by Gearbox (kinda) and published by SEGA. It had disappeared under the radar for a while, probably because we had other releases to go and be disappointed with, and the companies slunk off to lick their wounds and pretend like it never happened.

Well, it would appear that they’re not as off-the-hook as they appeared to be. A class-action lawsuit has been submitted, calling out Gearbox and SEGA as being guilty of ‘false-advertising’.

To be fair, it’s kinda hitting the nail on the head in terms of its justification. Gearbox presented a ‘gameplay-demo’ that was actually a heavily rendered and scripted video that a) wasn’t being played as much as presented and b) isn’t what we got in the final product. That and the fact that non-disclosure agreements stopped the press who managed to get behind-the-scenes looks from warning us about the upcoming catastrophe. The lawsuit claims:

“We think the video game industry is no different than any other that deals with consumers: if companies like Sega and Gearbox promise their customers one thing but deliver something else, then they should be held accountable for that decision.”

 See the differences here between what was advertised and what was delivered.

SEGA, being the grown-up publisher that it is, is taking what seems to be a fairly sensible stance on the whole affair, saying:

“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 on the other hand, seem to be a little indignant about it:

“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 feel that this attitude of ‘how dare you say such a thing’ seems to be a little misplaced considering, y’know, that they’re in the wrong. Still, it should be mentioned that not all our problems should be solved with lawsuits and class-actions – just because we don’t like something doesn’t mean we should sue it away. This time though, people were deceived and wrongly sold a product that was not as advertised.

For now, let’s just sit back and watch this game get nuked from orbit, and hope that this might be the first step towards redemption for the AAA games industry.

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