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Aliens Legal Throwdown: Sega, Gearbox And That E3 Demo

He said, she chest-bursted

As Sega and Gearbox scrap over liability in the class action lawsuit from folks who bought Aliens: Colonial Marines and felt more than a mite deceived, it's getting a bit messy. Sega have dug out a big bag of internal e-mails to establish who exactly is responsible for some of the misleading marketing, including the E3 2011 demo that looked better than the finished game. Naturally they're saying Gearbox were complicit, and that at times Gearbox president Randy Pitchford was "doing whatever the fuck he likes". Oof.

"It's Randy doing whatever the fuck he likes," an internal Sega e-mail now entered as evidence said about Pitchford's "panel leaking"--saying more than the plan allowed during discussions at events. Allegedly he'd done the same with Borderlands 2 too (published by 2K, not Sega). Sega say Gearbox were not only consulted on marketing and involved, but sometimes did more against their wishes. Gearbox said more than planned through website posts and announcements at community days too, according to Polygon's summary.

The e-mails also suggest, crucially, that Gearbox had told Sega that Aliens: Colonial Marines would be along the lines of the notorious E3 demo. That version looked tense and moody, close to the movie, and not a load of rubbish like the finished game. It set people up for disappointment.

"During one of my conversations with Gearbox today I verified that the E3 Demo is indeed the bar that we should use to determine where the entire game will be," Sega senior producer Matt Powers wrote to other Sega folk. "That is Gearbox's plan and what they believe in." Oh dear.

Quick recap: Sega had reached a tentative settlement for $1,250,000, and said Gearbox could be included if they chipped in an extra $750,000. Gearbox instead tried to get the whole case thrown out, saying they aren't liable as they made the game as contractors. This latest turn is Sega trying to stop that motion, saying that Gearbox are liable too.

There's an awful lot more going on, if you want to get stuck in. Polygon have it all.

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