So here’s a funny thing. Does anyone remember Aliens: Colonial Marines? Of course you do, it set the gaming world on fire with it’s very mediocre campaign and accusations of misused funds, false advertising and fake demos. It had the whole list. That game managed 1.31 million copies sold as indicated by SEGA’s end of year fiscal report (or shipped, unconfirmed), proving that as long as you have a beloved license you can tear said license to shreds and still sell a lot of copies.
I don’t care that A:CM is an (admittingly) pretty terrible game. I’ve played many, MANY bad games and I’m willing to throw this one into the pile of ‘never again’. I’m a LITTLE mad about the whole E3 mess, which kinda points towards a HUGE flaw about E3 and expos in general, that being, what is the point of having an expo and showing a demo that could potentially lead to a class action suit being filed against you due to false advertising? What is alarming however is the fact that Gearbox has shrugged this mess off with little to no harm, regardless of Randy Pitchford’s claims, while fellow developer Timegate Studios have closed their doors after the A:CM fiasco. The red flags don’t show up until we are given allegations that Gearbox misused funds given to them to work on A:CM and instead use those funds to work on Borderlands 2, something that is not only shady but could be downright illegal. I like Gearbox. I look forward to their Borderlands panel at PAX Australia and I have no intention of confronting them with these sort of allegations that for all we know, aren’t even true.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Ever since the controversy hit peak, everything has been hush-hush, with Gearbox avoiding all questions and accusations, and Randy Pitchford calling damage control on his very vocal Twitter account, blocking any account that would ask him these questions. Gearbox are a company that have done right by me. Both Borderlands and Borderlands 2 I have enjoyed immensely, and the co-op experiences I had in BL2 will be remembered for a long time. Am I beating a dead horse? Probably. But the fact remains that there are questions that have been swept under the rug and it frightens me a little that everyone has been so nonchalant, that a game shrouded in bad dealings could still sell well over a million copies despite being a painfully mediocre game. Is it ok to outsource a game to other developers, to misuse funds given to make a game you promised to make, to ‘trick’ an audience into thinking that a product will be superior to the final result? I don’t know.
Apparently patches and additional DLC have received a warmer reception at best, but Gearbox lost me at day 1. Randy’s outright childish attitude to criticism and genuine feedback has left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Is this a man who has grown such an ego that he is impervious to negative feedback? This entire debacle has been a despicable practice and not only is Randy unapologetic, he practically encourages the sort of behaviour brought forward by A:CM. Borderlands was fun. Borderlands 2 was great. But as a loyal customer, the actions of Randy and Gearbox Software have lost me completely. A studio has been shut down because of this, dozens of people are out of jobs and all Randy can say is, as quoted from his Twitter;
‘”To share intent with work-in-progress should be encouraged! The alternative is to never discuss any upcoming game until it is completely finished and available for purchase.”
Sure thing Randy, it’s ok to lie to an audience. Go for it.