To call the launch of Aliens: Colonial Marines disastrous for SEGA and Gearbox would be something of an understatement. The game was met with a swathe of bottom-rated reviews and widespread criticism of its sub-par gameplay, but most of all was heavily criticized for failing to live up to the quality that was indicated by the misleading demos and trailers being peddled by the publisher. Beyond a few testers, no one ever g0t to see the Wii U version of the game, which was apparently the worst of the lot. So much so that SEGA eventually gave up and cancelled the platform’s release altogether.
Now Californian law firm Edelson LLC has filed a false advertisement lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega on behalf of plantiff Damion Perrine, claiming that the demos of Aliens: Colonial Marines that were shown at conventions like E3 and PAX were not representative of the game and were misleading to consumers.
Right about now, SEGA are probably really wishing that they hadn’t publicly admitted that this was true, which they were forced to do after a UK gamer complained to the Advertising Standards Agency. Even Gearbox delivered a mea culpa in the form of a tweet from Randy Pitchford, which called the accusations of the demos not matching the game “understood and fair.” His comments are being cited by Edelson in the suit.
Edelson has previous experience with gaming lawsuits, having filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit against EA and Sony over the PS3 release of Battlefield 3 and the noticeable lack of the promised Battlefield 1943 bonus that should have been included. On their website, the firm speaks of having a keen interest in keeping tabs on the industry:
“There’s little doubt about it: video games have become a mainstay of the consumer entertainment industry. Every year, millions of individuals, from a wide swath of age groups and demographics, will individually spend $60, or more, to own and play the latest video game releases. Tense competition between video game console manufacturers and video game producers — all vying for a piece of this multi-billion dollar industry — ensures that there are no shortage of promises, promotional deals, and special offers all directed at today’s gamers.
“But what happens when those manufacturers and producers don’t live up to the promises they make?”
“Attorneys at Edelson continue to monitor the industry, communicate directly with individual gamers about their experiences and frustrations as retail consumers, and look to keep the booming video game business honest.”
The suit also cites the fact that critic reviews of Aliens: Colonial Marines (including Game Rant’s own 1-star review) were kept under embargo until the launch date – when it was too late for those who had pre-ordered the game or bought it early to know about the many, many problems and discrepancies between what was advertised and what was delivered. Therefore, damages are being sought for anyone who bought the game on or before the release date.
Whether you agree with the lawsuit or think it’s frivolous, it would be nice to have big-name developers be more aware of potential repercussions for deliberately misleading their customers and pouring funding into highly polished demos instead of a decent finished product. With Aliens: Colonial Marines‘ sales dropoff of 84% and player base loss of 65% within the first couple of weeks of release, however, the fear of consumers showing displeasure by closing their wallets is probably a greater threat for games publishers than a high-profile lawsuit.