Gearbox or SEGA? Who's to blame for the Aliens controversy

by Jake Galouzis Featured 10 Comments 18 Votes 7459 Views 21/02/2013 Back to Articles
Our review labelled it as "the biggest disappointment of 2013", and in case you hadn't heard, the new Aliens game we'd all been waiting for turned out worse than Jocelyn Wildenstein's plastic surgery. Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has been taking the brunt of the blame for the scandal (and rightly so), with fans outraged that the final product was merely a shadow of its former self - the demo shown at E3 2011. But is Gearbox entirely to blame?

While it's now well-known (conveniently revealed to us on the day of release) that Gearbox had outsourced most of the development to a little-known company by the name of TimeGate Studios, SEGA bankrolled the project, and as publishers should have kept a watchful eye on where exactly their money was going (down the toilet, as we now know).

So why exactly is Aliens: Colonial Marines so terrible, you ask? The guys at VideoGamerTV sum it up pretty well in the video below.

Get the Adobe Flash Player to see this video.

For the most of you who didn't bother watching the video, it's pretty simple. Back in 2011, we were shown a demo of the game that looked pretty freakin' sweet. Dynamic lighting, eerie environments, big explosions, Aliens: Colonial Marines was shaping up to be an authentic experience for hardcore fans who'd been waiting nearly three decades for a sequel to 1986's Aliens.

However, the end result was nothing short of a botched facelift, and a very blatant attempt at cutting corners in an effort to get the game on shelves. Essentially, we were promised Jennifer Hawkins, and Gearbox gave us Rosie O'Donnell. Gone are the various cool effects the demo gave us a glimpse of, the creepy dark tone of the game replaced with a generic lighter vibe, and visuals that developers probably could've thrown together without much of a struggle in 2007.

That's barely even scratching the surface of what's wrong with the game - Gearbox may never recover from the loss of respect from fans (or people could still buy Borderlands 3 by the truckload, in which case, I'm terribly wrong).

Before you point the finger, let's take an objective look at things first. We'll start with Gearbox - the guys who we thought had been working on the game since way back when in 2006 - only to find (rumoured, i must add) out they'd outsourced the bulk of the development to TimeGate Studios (who the heck are they, you ask? I don't know either).

Nearly a year ago a forum post from an ex-Gearbox employee went largely unseen - had the internet caught wind of the outsourcing back in early 2012, is there a possibility we may have seen a different outcome for the game?

Since release now shortly over a week ago, Randy Pitchford has been dodging bullets left, right and center. The target on the proverbial head of Gearbox doesn't seem to be faltering, either - fresh allegations have recently come to light that the developers in fact lied to SEGA about the progress of the game back in 2008. An ex-developer told Destructoid:

"Gearbox was taking people off the project to put them on Borderlands. This was before the big art style change happened on Borderlands. Our team was getting smaller by the month, making it very difficult to get the game made.

At some point in 2008, SEGA temporarily pulled the plug on the game. They caught wind of Gearbox shifting resources [despite still collecting milestone checks as if the team were full size] and lying to SEGA AND 2K about the number of people working on each project. This led to the round of layoffs at Gearbox in late 2008."

Should it be officially found that Gearbox were in fact lying to SEGA about the development of the game, it's safe to say the story is only just beginning here.

In a nutshell - from what we've heard, it seems fitting to point the finger at Gearbox. Between lying to SEGA and collecting money for a project that was essentially stagnant and (rumouredly) outsourcing development of the game to a team that was clearly less capable - the company's future will presumably be filled with very hot water.

SEGA, on the other hand, have been quiet about the whole situation. Whether they're biding their time or even building a legal suit against Gearbox, who knows. The publisher has come out and stated that the game was, in fact, developed by Gearbox, with minor help from other companies on the production of the single and multiplayer modes. From what we've heard though, it wouldn't be surprising if SEGA were unaware of the outsourcing of the game.

Ultimately, SEGA bankrolled the entire development of Aliens: Colonial Marines and if they do end up suing Gearbox for well, delivering a terrible game, that will then adversely require them to own up and admit that the process of development should have been checked upon regularly (which we know it wasn't).

Both Gearbox and SEGA had six years to get the damned game right - Aliens: Colonial Marines is a title that should have been sentenced to development hell. At least there fans could forever speculate on how amazing Gearbox's take on the Aliens franchise could be.

Aliens: Colonial Marines should never have seen the light of day - both Gearbox and SEGA are just as at fault as each other for allowing such a disaster to occur.

By Jake Galouzis

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Gearbox or SEGA? Who's to blame for the Aliens controversy Comments

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Gross mismanagement from GBX...
Randy Pitchfraud :P

A good read, nice write up! ;)

I hate Gearbox right now, I'm not touching any of their future titles I couldn't care less for them. I really brought into the nice guy image Randy had and his enthusiasm and this is what he did. People say this is how businesses are run but how come I never once lost respect for Cliffy B over the years? he made promises had enthusiasm and always delivered.
SEGA maybe should have kept a closer eye over the project but Gearbox shouldn't have abused them this way. In my eyes its Gearboxs fault 100%, had they done their job properly none of this would have happened.

Nuff said.
Too many projects at once me thinks. Aliens, when showcased had people frothing at the mouth. Alien fans and newcomers. Borderlands had a good rep shortly after but wasn't in need of an immediate title. This time should have been spent on this Aliens project, at least making it an Alien game everyone can enjoy and end this generation with a BANG. Talking about THAT Alien game. From what I've read, the story was meant to be captivating but just falls flat because of the lifeless gameplays and environments.

And if I were Gearbox approaching release date at the quality of the game that is. I would've been digging my grave before it was shelved. I haven't even played it, but watching it was painful. I hope for Gearbox's sake, they get sued. It's just so frustratingly annoying that Fans were shown almost a completely different game
I knew not to make the same mistake again after buying Aliens vs Predator on the recommendation of a friend.
Both. Gearbox have lost my respect though.
Stop auto playing videos or ima sue you for my bandwidth.
I think it was greed from both the companies combined which led to aliens fiasco
Who let the work-experience guy do the final build and release it !
Maybe, the HD version is for the PS4 !?!?!?!?!?
Maybe, there going to dumb down all the PS3 games now that
the the new flagship is coming.
maybe we should all ask for the demo be put up so we can play that instead

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