After the train wreck which was Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines took everyone by surprise, it seems that someone has decided to take the developer to court over it. As a result of what he calls false advertising, the law firm Edelson LLC on behalf of a Mr. Damion Perrine have cited a number of civil and business codes they believe the creators of the game breached. A major issue targeted was Gearbox’s infamous high tech “demos” were playable segments which were claimed to directly reflect the overall quality. Featuring graphics far beyond what the game was capable of, scenes and details which were never actually in the game and ultimately a product far beyond what we actually got.
With such a strict embargo being placed upon the game to prevent negative reviews prior to release, and very few actual examples being given of the game’s actual quality, it’s not hard to see why this is being done. The sheer difference between what was promised and what we actually got is something a lot of people have gotten tired of over the years, and who can blame them. The problem here however, is which might come as a result of this lawsuit should it succeed.
Many of these promotional videos and the advertisements which the lawsuit is targeting were those created while the game was still being developed. While the title was in flux and open to considerable changes prior to release. As a result the obvious question here is how do you define actual false advertising and what is something which is work in progress, liable to change.
If this goes through and is successful it will set a precedent for similar “demos” and advertisements to be sued over differences. That if a new game is brought to E3 or similar conventions, then it will be used to gauge the overall quality of the game and if it seems exaggerated in some way it will leave developers open to being sued as a result.
On the one hand the accusations of false advertisement hit Colonial Marines especially hard due to the limited information which was actually given to audiences. With so much being based purely upon the aforementioned fabricated demos. On the other, unless specific dates or definitions are introduced to deal with such problems, then it could very easily become an easily abused method of targeting certain developers.
If you don’t believe that this is possible consider other popular series for a moment. The Bioshock series for example. For as much praise as it’s been given, just about all of which is very much deserved, but it has a habit for presenting either significant or minor differences in demos and trailers. Bioshock Infinite featured sequences which were exaggerated versions of levels within the actual game, frequently being either far more impressive or with significant differences to what we actually got. Elizabeth being harmed by her powers, more frequent involvement by the Songbird, more direct interaction with the locals, and a much smoother and dynamic experience overall.
The obvious difference between the two is that we got almost nothing of what Colonial Marines’ promotional material promised; while Infinite’s overall gameplay experience was more or less the same barring a few alterations. One was barely recognisable while the other we could at least see shades of what we were promised. For those looking to make cash, or are extremely unsatisfied with the title however, they could potentially stand as much of a chance of having a successful lawsuit as against a game with actual false advertising.
Again I want to stress that actually seeing someone confront Sega and Gearbox, trying to show that their actions will not be tolerated, is a good thing. It’s just we might have repercussions we might end up regretting.
Those are just my two cents however, if you disagree or have your own opinion on this matter feel free to outline it in the comments section below.