Gearbox denies wrongdoing in Aliens suit

August 1, 2014 // 11:39 a.m.

Tags: #aliens #aliens-colonial-marines #gearbox #lawsuit #legal #randy-pitchford #sega #timegate

Gearbox has finally broken its long-running silence on the case of the Aliens: Colonial Marines law-suit, claiming that any and all blame for the disappointing state of the game at launch lies with publisher Sega.

The history of Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game which revised canon and placed the player in the strangely-not-nuked colony of Hadley's Hope from the Aliens film post-Ripley-visit, began in 2008 with Sega teasing the first details of a game in development by Gearbox since 2006. The promised 2008 launch date whizzed past with little explanation for the delay, and in June 2009 Gearbox head Randy Pitchford claimed the game was still in development with a planned 2010 launch.

In 2013, the game would finally hit shop shelves - an impressive, though hardly Duke Nukem Forever-beating, five years late - to universal derision. The game bore no resemblance to a supposedly in-game trailer released by Sega prior to its launch, with massively degraded visuals, dumbed-down AI, and entire segments missing from the title. Fans were aghast, and Pitchford promised to investigate what had gone on. The company would find itself at the centre of a lawsuit claiming that it had materially misled buyers and investors alike, with rumours circulating that it had used milestone payments from Sega to fund the development of its own Borderlands franchise while farming off the bulk of the work on Aliens: Colonial Marines to tiny TimeGate studios.

Since then, the company has been suspiciously quiet on the results of said investigation. In a motion for dismissal filed in court on Thursday, Gearbox has denied any wrongdoing and placed the blame firmly on publisher Sega. 'Gearbox never belonged in this lawsuit. Gearbox is a video game software developer. It was neither the publisher nor seller of the video game at issue.' the company told the court in its filing. 'For more than a year, Gearbox has quietly abided the plaintiffs' claims so that Sega, the game's publisher and the party responsible for the game's marketing and sale, could assume the defence of this lawsuit. Gearbox has honoured its publisher's request in spite of plaintiffs' highly-publicised-and highly-misplaced-claims against Gearbox. At this point, however, Gearbox is obligated to pursue its rightful departure from this case.'

The filing includes a deposition from Gearbox vice president of marketing Steve Gibson which deny that money was diverted away from Aliens: Colonial Marines, stating categorically that 'Gearbox supplemented Sega's development budget [for the game] with its own money to help Sega finish its games; Gearbox's contributions to Alien: Colonial Marines totalled millions, none of which was ever repaid' due to the title's poor sales. Gibson goes on to deny that the impressive trailer at the heart of the suit was created using a different game engine, without explaining why it looks so vastly different to the finished game.

According to Polygon's analysis of the recent filings in the case, a judgement on Gibson's claims may not be required: all but one of the plaintiffs have reached a settlement agreement with publisher Sega that would end the suit, with the other party seeking to remove the missing plaintiff - reportedly in prison awaiting trail on three charges of assault and terroristic threats - so the case can be closed.

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