Judge Maria-Elena James, Sega of America, Gearbox Studios, Edelson, LLC: Support refunds for A:CM purchasers who feel misled by deceptive advertising.
Help support truth in advertising in the video game industry and take a stand against companies who advertise one thing, yet deliver another (of lesser quality).
The following reasons provide supporting information which helps establish that the video game product, Aliens: Colonial Marines, was falsely advertised and led many to purchase the game under false pretenses...
Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox Studios, promised a "deferred rendering", next-gen lighting system, which was not in final product, and failed to provide any notice of its exclusion:
After the game's release, Randy Pitchford would acknowledge the failure to include the advertised deferred lighting with A:CM, when he stated the following on Twitter: "try not to attempt next gen software techniques on current gen hardware; tradeoffs cause expectation gaps." While that may be true, the bigger issue is not providing any type of retraction for an advertised feature before the game's launch, as lighting produces the mood and atmosphere which is considered to be a critical component of the overall game experience.
Randy Pitchford repeatedly claimed that a widely advetised demo of A:CM featured "actual gameplay" and that the game utilized "sophisticated AI", both of which were not true:
Note: At NO time did Randy Pitchford ever state that the "actual gameplay" was a "work in progress," "target render," or a "demo to share intent." By promoting the footage as "actual gameplay," it caused confusion in the markeplace which led people to believe that we were seeing the real game on display and NOT a work-in-progress. It has been reported the demo was created using a different game engine altogether and that it was created with the understanding that its quality would not be possible with the actual game release. Knowing this, Pitchford proceeded to claim that the footage showed "actual gameplay," which refutes his comments that he "always spoke the truth when he spoke it."
According to a source verified by Kotaku, TimeGate was given the following directive from Gearbox in regards to how to construct the demo...
'"We were told many times through demo production, 'Don't worry about performance, just make it awesome,'" said one source. "There was a reason [the demos] were never playable."
The demo looked better than the game does because the demo didn't have to be optimized for old hardware. Though these games are created using powerful PCs, any console game has a "performance budget"—the ceiling above which an Xbox 360 or a PS3 cannot go. The Colonial Marines demo was way over performance budget, and the development team had to cut back significantly for the final product."
Later, Randy Pitchford would admit to there being notable differences between the demo and the retail release, and then promised an "investigation" that never led anywhere:
Note: By Randy Pitchford's own admission, there was enough reason to launch an investigation at that point, which contradicts his current stance on the issue, which alleges that the demo was always advertised as a "work in progress" when it in fact was not.
Sega's marketing materials included a promotional trailer that was advertised as having 100% in-game footage at the time, when it did not:
Sega would later admit to this issue and change the advertising, but unfortunately, this was AFTER people had already made their purchase under false pretenses on or about February 12, 2013:
Randy Pitchford advertised the game's story as clearing up the plotholes between Aliens and Alien 3, which the retail copy of the game fails to address, and never indicated, prior to the game's initial launch, that to experience said story, consumers would have to pay MORE MONEY for extra DLC content:
Gearbox claimed that the length of the single player campaign would be 10 hours minimum, which it was not:
Randy Pitchford claimed that the game was not being built with a cliffhanger ending, where a strong argument can be made that it did end on a cliffhanger, with many purchasers feeling the game was rushed, incomplete, and lacking what a common person would consider to be the type of "cathartic", "gratifying" ending advertised by Randy Pitchford:
Both Sega and Gearbox advertised the game as being developed by Gearbox, without mentioning in promotional trailers, or the product's box art, that the majority of the game was outsourced to other studios. Rather, the game was primarily advertised as being "from the hit creators of Borderlands" and no real mention was ever made which indicated that SIGNIFICANT portions of the game (and its DLC) were actually being produced by other, less reputable studios (one which went out of business shorty after the release of A:CM). When Sega was confronted about the heavy amount of outsourcing, they supplied an answer that was, once again, wholly misleading, claiming that other studios, such as TimeGate, only "helped" to develop A:CM when, in fact, evidence proves much otherwise. The evidence shows that TimeGate, for example, played a much larger role than the parties advertised and that a more honest description of their contributions would have been to label them as a co-developer for the game. In addition, Brian Thomas, cinemator director at Gearbox, is on the record for claiming that the game's multiplayer was made "in-house by Gearbox" when a signficant amount of evidence, once again, suggests otherwise. From the information that has been gathered, the following segments of the game have found to be subject to outsourcing, either whole or in part, and question whether or not Gearbox put enough work into the game to truthfully be advertised as its primary developer:
Aliens: Colonial Marines Outsourcing report
- single player (timegate/ demiurge)
- multiplayer (timegate/demiurge)
- dlc: bug hunt (demiurge/*nerve)
- dlc: recon map pack (*demiurge/nerve)
- dlc: movie map pack (*demiurge/nerve)
- dlc: single player dlc (dark side studios)
- additional wii u sku: cancelled (demiurge)
With additional production assets coming from PolyCount, as well as an art studio in Shanghai, China.
To support the notion that produciton issues were caused due to this large degree of outsourcing, Jurgen Post, Sega's European boss, stated how with Creative Assembly's upcoming Alien game, their title is being produced...
"...in-house so it's easy to manage the production of it."
This declaration suggests how Sega acknowledges that outsourcing issues plagued A:CM, and are keen to avoid similar problems in the future. Be that as it may, the parties invovled should recognize that any future actions for another game title do NOT undo the quality control problems that outsourcing brought upon A:CM.
Randy Pitchford promoted the game as a labor of love, misleading fans into believing they would be getting a quality product from Gearbox, which we did not. Instead, due to what is reported to have been a dysfunctional development cycle and preferential treatment for their "Borderlands" franchise, consumers unknowingly paid full price for a shoddy product at launch because a review embargo helped to conceal its inferior quality:
Then, giving further explanation for the game's review embargo, and the intent to knowingly withhold the poor quality of the game, as to trick consumers of its quality at or near launch, a verified source said the following:
"People at Gearbox knew the bad reviews were coming, our source said. They knew that the game wasn't good."
In addition, Michael Biehn, who played the iconic role of Hicks in Aliens, was involved in the game's development and described Aliens: Colonial Marines as being a "passionless" project that felt like nothing more but a a cash grab based on a popular license. Given this, Mr. Biehn provides another account which refutes Randy Pitchford's many comments that A:CM was a labor of love:
The actionable claims related to these issues were deemed to have merit by a credible law firm and a lawsuit for false advertising was filed against Gearbox Studios/Sega as a result:
Then, adding further insult to injury, even with litigation currently in motion, Randy Pitchford, instead of offering an apology and/or an explanation to those who feel deceived by fraudulent advertising, addressed the situation on Twitter,while expressing no remorse whatsoever. Instead, Pitchford tried his best to spin the truth and allege that the PR tactics behind A:CM should actually be supported, making the claim that his company's actions are common industry practice, using examples of game demos from titles such as HL 2, Starcraft 2, and GTA 3, but this is simply not the case. Responsible companies make sure that consumers understand that their games are a work-in-progress and subject to change. In Gearbox's case, they created confusion in the marketplace by repeatedly advertising a demo in such a way that consumers were falsely led to believe that what they were witnessing was real, actual gameplay of the product they could expect to purchase. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as the demo was wholly unrepresentative of what the final product was at launch, on either the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, or PC platforms. Given this, a successful court outcome can establish legal precedent in this area and help ensure that these types of bait and switch scenarios don't continue in the future.
NOTE: This petition addresses the retail copy of Aliens: Colonial Marines that was first made available to purchase on or about February 12, 2013. It does not take into consideration any updates post launch, as most who pre-ordered the product expected the game that had been advertised at launch, and not several months afterwards. Assuming patches could bring each sku up to pre-release expectations, this does not undo the fact that people bought the title at full price at launch and if they needed to wait several months for any fixes, they could have chosen to purchase the product at a later time, saving a lot of money in the process.
*This petition is dedicated to Gearbox forum user ii2cnii, as well as anyone else who purchased Aliens: Colonial Marines in good faith and, due to material misreprestations by both Gearbox and Sega, wish to have their money be returned to them*
PETITION GOAL: With A:CM reportedly selling approximately 1.3 million copies (at or near release), the ultimate goal of this petition is to reach out and attain as many signatures as possible from all those consumers who feel misled by their purchase. While successfully reaching out to all these initial purchasers is a tall order, since litigation often takes years to conclude, this petition will be left standing to (a) keep the pressure on and (b) accumulate as many signatures as possible. On the way to the ultimate goal, this petition will try to spur momentum by setting smaller goals at increments of 50-100. So, with all that being said, if you support this cause, please help by spreading this petition to all major gaming sites, message boards, and the like, where word can spread and this petition can help make a bigger impact in the on-going lawsuit against Sega/Gearbox for false advertisement.
PETITION UPDATES: By supporting this petition and leaving your contact information, you will be kept up to date with any and all developments regarding the current lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega. In the event a class action settlement is reached, your information will be forwarded to Edelson, LLC in order to help you become part of the aforementioned class, and directions will be made available to you on how you can receive your share of any settlement that is reached.
To conclude, for those of you who do not yet know me, allow me to introduce myself - my name is JustaGrunt, and if you'll induldge me, I'd like for us to change the (gaming) world. #endtransmission
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