The launch of Aliens: Colonial Marines hardly went very well for Gearbox and Sega with the game being utterly trashed by reviewers and critics from around the world as well as the gamers themselves. Now, though, it seems like things are just going to get worse for the two companies as a lawsuit, spotted by Polygon, has been filed against them for misrepresenting the game, or to put it another way for false advertisement.
The lawsuit was filed law firm Edelson LLC in the Northern District of California court on behalf of plaintiff Damion Perrine.
Citing several different business and civil codes the gist of the lawsuit is that Damion Perrine believes Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised the game to consumers using various gameplay demos and trailers that were unrepresentative of the final product, despite the fact that they were pitched to sound like they would indeed be representative of the final game.
Of course most gamers these days know to be wary of trailers and gameplay demos because they can be radically different from the finished article. BioShock Infinite is a prime example of a game that has changed massively during developement. Check out some of the demos and trailers from last year or before and you’ll see huge chunks of game that aren’t in the final product, though obviously nobody is trying to sue Irrational. It’s why I strongly recommend that you don’t pre-order games.
Yet Damion has a fair point: Gearbox and Sega never made it fully clear that what they were showing may change completely before launch. Trailers shown on TV did not even sport the warning that what was being shown did not represent the actual game, even though it clearly did not. Happily Sega have now been forced to place the warning on their trailers.
The suit also goes on to say that by sending out review copies of the game with an embargo that did not lift until the morning of the game’s launch those that pre-ordered would have no knowledge of the differences between the product they were shown in demos and trailers and the product that they had bought. Yet again this is why I strongly suggest that you don’t bother pre-ordering games – it usually only nets you a crappy little code for a few little extras and leaves you utterly blind as to the quality of the product you’ve bought.
Each of the ‘actual gameplay’ demonstrations purported to show consumers exactly what they would be buying: a cutting edge video game with very specific features and qualities,” the claim reads. “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.”
Personally I’ve got very mixed feelings about this one. As I said earlier I know to never accept demo footage and trailers as completely of the final launch product. Yet developers are normally carefully to remind people that things can and probably will change and that the footage they’re showing may not even make it into the completed version. Gearbox did make this clear. I can’t help wonder, though, did Irrational ever make it clear that the footage they were showing of Infinite wasn’t actually representitive of the full game? There’s vast swathes of stuff shown in the demos that aren’t in the game, so surely they’re also guilty of false advertising, therefore rendering this all a touch hypocritical – it’s not false advertising if you enjoyed the game anyway, sort of thing.
Keep in mind that’s not my current opinion, but merely one possible way of viewing all of this.
Regardless, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how this plays out. Should it be successful it could open the doors to other lawsuits, and that could be both good and utterly terrible at the same time.