I'm really happy about this news. I'm not happy that one of my favorite developers is getting hit with some hard claims of injustice or that Sega might finally drop off the map after this debacle, but I am happy that consumers have some voice to speak up for them during a blatantly anti-consumer fiasco involving Sega, Gearbox Software and Aliens: Colonial Marines.
GameIndustry.biz and Polygon are reporting that law firm Edelson LLC, on behalf of Damion Perrine, is bringing a hard case against Sega and Gearbox regarding several hard allegations backed up with plenty of facts and actualities.
The suit first and foremost nails Sega and Gearbox for false advertisement, pushing trailers, screenshots and promotional material since E3, 2011 that was not representative of the game that consumers would eventually buy. Worse yet, for Sega and Gearbox, the suit defends those who pre-ordered the game based on the promo material, with Edelson claiming that consumers had no way of knowing that the awesome game that was being marketed, was not the game that consumers were buying.
Edelson's rep Ben Thomassen stated...
"The gaming community had a strong reaction to the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines," ... "We think the video game industry is no different than any other that deals with consumers: if companies like Sega and Gearbox promise their customers one thing but deliver something else, then they should be held accountable for that decision."
Good. Not every gamer is willing to “turn the other cheek” to get screwed over. Sega and Gearbox are learning the hard way that gamers are consumers and they're not willing to get played like a butt puppet.
What's more, though, is that the media is being dragged back into the fold. I wrote an uncompromisingly scathing piece about the scrotum-licking marketing arm for publishers known as the “gaming media” for having a hand in the whole ordeal, because they were willing to stand behind the publisher even though many of the top gaming sites had access to final versions of the game months before release. Instead of speaking up to warn gamers who pre-ordered or were overly excited about Aliens: Colonial Marines, gaming media kept their mouths shut until after the game released and after consumers rallied up in disgust at the blatantly false advertising.
Also mentioned in the suit is the fact that review code for the game was sent to press with an embargo for coverage of the game's launch date - an immediate warning to any most reviewers - thereby preventing anyone with a pre-order from properly assessing the game's quality. As a class-action suit, the result of which will be applicable to the public at large, Edelson hopes to elicit a ruling for all customers who pre-ordered the game.
According to IGN's associate editor Mitch Dyer, he revealed in a phone conversation that it wasn't IGN's place to hammer the Gearbox representative during their live demonstration of Aliens: Colonial Marines, before the game released, with questions about parity between the finished version and the “vertical slice” from E3 2011, as they're more enthusiast press and not investigative journalists. Gaming Blend's Pete Haas wrote more about the situation, noting that for some products there are NDAs and embargos in place to protect publishers from any negative press before a game is released, which Edelson noted as putting consumers at an unfair advantage when heading out to buy the game.
Furthermore, Edelson is on the side of the consumers and feels that the only way to have justice served is to have all those accountable stand for the poor decisions they've made in the court of law, noting...
"Unfortunately for their fans, Defendants never told anyone - consumers, industry critics, reviewers, or reporters - that their 'actual gameplay' demonstration advertising campaign bore little resemblance to the retail product that would eventually be sold to a large community of unwitting purchasers."
Worse yet, Pitchford's comments on Twitter and Sega's comments to the Advertising Standards Association are being used against them, as everything you say can and will be used in the court of law when you royally screw over gamers with false advertising.
You can bet your bottom dollar we'll keep you up to date on what's happening with this situation and hopefully the pitiful excuse known as video game journalists, from now on, will at least attempt to do their job or be a little less “enthusiastic” and a little more “investigative” when anti-consumer measures are being pounced around by money-hungry publishers.