Sega targets Gearbox in Aliens court case

September 4, 2014 // 11:16 a.m.

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

The battle between Sega and Gearbox over who is to blame for the mess that was Aliens: Colonial Marines continues to rage, with some strongly-worded claims from Sega and an unsurprising admission regarding 2011's 'gameplay' video.

For those not up to speed on the story so far, a reprise. In 2008 Sega announced Aliens: Colonial Marines, a first-person shooter set in the same universe as the Aliens film, to launch later that year. Development hell followed, but in 2009 developer Gearbox - hired by Sega to make the game - confirmed development was ongoing, aiming for a 2010 launch date. In 2013, five years after it should have been on shop shelves, the game launched to general disdain - largely thanks to the quality being far lower than a video released in 2011 that claimed to be comprised of real gameplay footage.

As critics sought to get to the bottom of the issue, a tangled web emerged. Gearbox hadn't developed the game at all, instead farming it out to small development house TimeGate - which would face bankruptcy as a result of the game's poor reception - in order to concentrate on its first-party Borderlands franchise. Gearbox head Randy Pitchford promised an investigation into exactly what happened to the game between 2011's 'gameplay' video and the launch, but went silent until vehemently denying any wrongdoing in a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of buyers who felt misled by the video.

Now, Sega has spoken up to defend its offered $1.25 million settlement in the same case - a settlement that would remove it from the suit and leave Gearbox holding the bag for any future claims. In court documents obtained by Ars Technica, Sega confirms that Gearbox was jointly responsible for all promotional activity, and responsible for the release of screenshots, videos and other materials that had not been cleared for publication by Sega. In one particularly salacious portion of the document, a quote from a letter sent in 2012 Pitchford is accused by a Sega public relations staffer as 'doing whatever the fuck he likes' to the detriment of Sega.

The most telling quote, however, indicates that both Sega and Gearbox were fully aware that the 'gameplay' video released for E3 in 2011 was nothing of the sort. 'The E3 demo is indeed the bar that we should use to determine where the entire game will be,' Sega's Matthew Powers wrote in July 2011. 'That is Gearbox's plan and what they believe in.'

Additional extracts from the court documents are available from Polygon.

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