And here it is ladies and gentlemen, the latest Gearbox release, Aliens: Colonial Disaster. Not only a disaster regarding the game it self, but also all the bad PR revolving around it.
Let me state right from the start that I’ve never been compelled to join Gearbox’s forums or write about them before to say how awesome they were, I praised them for their amazing work with the Borderlands franchise and I showed so by buying and pre-ordering anything they threw at the market with a Borderlands logo. Or in a more common lingo – Voting with the wallet.
All of that is about to change…
At first I was finding it strange that my work colleagues were telling me on the release Tuesday that the reviews [of Aliens: Colonial Marines] were being terrible and destroying any idea that the game might be good. I dismissed it and thought it was bad and unprofessional journalism / amateur reviews.
After starting to read and investigate by myself, including the famous tester statement on Reddit, I still didn’t want to believe on these ‘rumors’ and opinions. It was a busy week for me so I didn’t have time to open and play my pre-ordered A:CM until yesterday, Sunday.
Before actually playing it thou, I was still curious and followed up these forums very closely, and that’s when I first bumped into this and even worse, this.
There is no escaping the facts when watching those two videos, they are not opinions, they are not make-belief, it was a real side-to-side comparison with what was, and what is.
As you might imagine I couldn’t wrap my head around it, how did something so big, something with such budget, something so revered by film lovers, and something with six years of development time, train wrecked so hard into release.
I’ve read all the conspiracy theories, money going to Borderlands, Outsourcing to TimeGate, Nerve and whatnot, SEGA knowing about it, SEGA not knowing about it. 8Gb Patch (not) coming. But to be quite honest, after all this dust settles and fingers stop being pointed I care only about one thing: How will Gearbox fix it, and will they fix it?
It’s hard to even begin to conceive how such a developer, publisher and literally bullet proof IP managed to achieve such negativity and failure after a six year project, but I’m repeating myself. My point being, Gearbox and SEGA cannot leave this as it stands, they can’t sit this one out, not in 2013, not with the amount of funds involved, and not with the Aliens trademark. We’re talking about an estimated 40 to 60 million dollars involved, obviously enough we can’t dig any official figures yet.
For someone waiting as long as some of us have, for a decent, really good game involving Aliens™, and specially after knowing it would be a direct (albeit parallel) sequel to Aliens, the E3/PAX demo was a Godsend, it was going to be an interactive Aliens, further exploring Archeron and mostly, discovering what happened inside the SULACO, mostly.
And those guys managed to screw it up…
Gearbox can’t even sleaze their way out of this one by blaming outsourcing, Gearbox is the name on the box, Gearbox for all intents and purposes is the main developer, it was their duty to verify, double-check and fix what was wrong prior to release.
But Gearbox couldn’t do that now could they? SEGA wouldn’t provide them more time after so much postponing, it would look bad asking for more time. Money was buried (or not) into Borderlands 2 development instead of Aliens, staff was short as well, so outsourcing was ‘required’, but the end result was looking so bad that something had to be cooked up out of thin air, something to show it’s actually looking good, and the E3 demo was born.
Are we close to the truth? Maybe, maybe not, we’ll probably never know. We’ll probably never see an apology or any taking of responsibility, not when the President of the developing studio says thing like “always profited from criticism” and giving away Shift Codes for A:CM with “Friend of Gearbox” on your customized armor, when he knows how poorly the game was received.
Don’t get me wrong Mr. Pitchford, it’s a great and humane attitude to “profit” from criticism if it involves learning from mistakes and improve yourself as a person. But that door swings both ways, if you don’t admit your mistakes in the first place, than you haven’t learnt a thing.
Considering the amount of revenue your company received from such a PR and critical fiasco, I think a “Fix” to this game is the least your fans deserve.
I’m not even asking for an apology, just action.
Remember “A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else.” – Gandhi.
Make things right Gearbox, and you’ll win back your pre-orders, but most of all, win back respect by the consumers and the media.