There’s no denying that Aliens: Colonial Marines was a hot mess of a flop. From setting high expectations with an E3 demo showing, to literally scrapping everything about that demo and replacing it with a substandard product, it truly was a big let down for a title that claimed it would improve the overall Aliens canon. Now we thought that eventually we would hear what really happened, but of course no apology or explanation was forthcoming from either SEGA or Gearbox. And speaking about Gearbox, it’s very own head, Randy Pitchford, took to Twitter today to defend the title by saying it’s intent was to entertain and while that may be true from the creative standpoint, it certainly didn’t feel that way for the majority of players.
Linking to an article concerning tricks played on consumers with F2P titles, fans were quick to point out the trickery that was used with Aliens: Colonial Marines to get people to buy it.
Of course it doesn’t stop there. When called out concerning the demo that was shown and saying how exploitative it was, he simply responded with this.
Taking everything into consideration, didn’t most of these final products end up being better or at least near to their demo showings? Sure there were some differences, but for the most part it wasn’t day and night and none of them felt like a huge regression.
Now to counter Mr. Pitchford’s argument concerning the ‘intent of developers”, lets take a look at their promises for the title.
“What’s interesting is it’s fiction, and sometimes the fiction actually has some mutually exclusive ‘facts.’ We’ve identified some of those and taken them to [20th Century Fox] and been like ‘can we come up with something that makes sense? … what happened to Burke? What happened to Hudson? They’re there, somewhere. They’re all fun play spaces that you get to visit after these events unfolded.” Taken from an early 2011 OXM interview with Randy Pitchford. So did they make with this promise? Somewhat, but mostly no.
“Sequel we all wanted”“After this game, Alien 3 is a better film,” he told Joystick in a 2012 interview. We all know how the story turned out for this game. Besides revealing that Hicks is still alive (HOW!!!!), the game left players with more questions than Alien 3 did. Nothing about that film was answered, and nowhere to be found was any clarification on even its own newly created plot threads. Nothing in the Aliens canon was resolved, progressed or even marginally enriched by the product that Gearbox put forth.
Gearbox promised us the pinnacle of “fan service”. They made it clear throughout every written and spoken interview that their intent was clearly to deliver us a game that would fix the issues presented by the third film. However, when it came time to deliver on that promise, it turned out that virtually all of their promises and stated intentions had been nothing but so much hyperbole. Ever since its release back in February, rumors have been flying that Gearbox itself barely even worked on Aliens: Colonial Marines, but instead outsourced it to numerous smaller developers so that they could focus entirely on their Borderlands cash cow.
At the end of the day, despite all of their interviews and promises for a true canon sequel to Aliens, the fans instead received an ugly, buggy, unfaithful and insultingly bad blemish on their favorite franchise. So isn’t this in fact a form of exploitation, when you spend more time crafting a dubious web of broken promises than you do actually creating the game at hand? As for Mr. Pitchford, I’d just like to say that having good intentions at the outset of a project is quite easy, but it’s maintaining those intentions while executing them with artistry and business savvy that has completely eluded the scope of you and your studio’s abilities. It is for that failing that you have been held to the fire, not your so-called “good intentions”.