Did Aliens: Colonial Marines suffer because of Borderlands?

Industry source tells GameSpot that Sega was "very concerned" Gearbox wasn't investing enough effort into critically panned title.

The six-year saga of Aliens: Colonial Marines is reported to have strained the relationship between headline developer Gearbox and publisher Sega over a dispute that Gearbox was focusing too heavily on its Borderlands series.

Talking to GameSpot, one industry source close to Sega said the publisher became increasingly concerned about Gearbox's commitment to the oft-delayed title.

"Sega was very concerned that the bulk of Gearbox's resources/manpower was being spent on Borderlands and that they weren't investing the effort in Colonial Marines that they should have been," said our source, "hence it being repeatedly delayed."

"Obviously, judging from the end result, that issue was never resolved," they added.

Aliens: Colonial Marines received a 4.5 in its GameSpot review. Last year's Borderlands 2, on the other hand, was awarded an 8.5. Aliens: Colonial Marines was announced in December 2006 and was subjected to multiple delays before its eventual release yesterday. Borderlands 2 was announced in August 2011 and shipped in September 2012.

Friction between Sega and Gearbox--and the looming threat of legal action--is also mentioned in a Reddit thread titled "A lot of you are (rightfully) upset at the final product that is A:CM. Maybe I can shed some light as to how it got the way it is."

The anonymous poster, who said they couldn't speak publicly through fear of breaking NDAs but claims to have worked on the game for a year and a half, mentioned that Sega wasn't pleased about the game's delays but kept the project going and allowed Gearbox to outsource development of portions of the game.

"[Gearbox] outsourced a good portion of the game to outside companies," said the poster. "Initially, the plan was for TimeGate to take the majority of campaign, [Gearbox] would take MP, Demiurge and Nerve would handle DLC and various other focused tasks. This decision was made mostly so that most of the developers at [Gearbox] could continue working on Borderlands 2, while a small group of [level designers], coders and designers dealt with Pecan."

Pecan was allegedly Gearbox's internal codename for Aliens: Colonial Marines.

"Somehow the schedules for Pecan and Borderlands 2 managed to line up and [Gearbox] realized that there was no f**king way they could cert and ship two titles at the same time," added the poster. "Additionally, campaign (which was being developed by TimeGate) was extremely far behind, even as Pecan's Beta deadline got closer and closer. In April or May (can't remember which), Pecan was supposed to hit beta, but [Gearbox] instead came to an agreement with SEGA that they would push the release date back one more time, buying [Gearbox] around 9 mos extension."

Gearbox formally announced the delay, and that Aliens: Colonial Marines would eventually ship in 2013, on May 21, 2012.

Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against [Gearbox], asking for an extension wasn't an option.
"About 5 of those 9 months went to shipping BL2," added the poster, "In that time, TimeGate managed to scrap together 85% of the campaign, but once Borderlands 2 shipped and [Gearbox] turned its attention to Pecan, it became pretty apparent that what had been made was in a pretty horrid state."

"Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against [Gearbox], asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in (a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems."

"This isn't because [Gearbox] didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get."

Another alleged ex-developer also said that the game's development was a "total train wreck" and that TimeGate Studios handled the campaign. Sega senior producer Matthew J. Powers has hit back, speaking about Aliens: Colonial Marines at the Italian launch event (via DSOG). "Absolutely not, the game has been developed by Gearbox Software. Other studios helped Gearbox on the production of single and multiplayer."

How much of the game was actually made by Gearbox is still being questioned, however. Over on the TimeGate Studios forums, moderator Rossinna-Sama posted that about 50 percent of the campaign was made by TimeGate. "I thought TG worked on the MP component, but I was wrong. Messaged a few people in TG and found out that TG basically had a hand in everything."

"They are responsible for the weapons, the characters, some of the story, a fair amount of the aliens, and I don't mean conceptualization, they did the actual work of making said weapons and so on."

"This said, the game underwent a lot of changes so [TimeGate Studios] doesn't actually know how much of their content is left. Some had the estimate that 50% of what you see in the campaign is their work, others wanted to see for themselves and would get back to me after playing the game themselves."

Sega did not respond to a request for comment.

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martingaston

Martin Gaston

Hi! I'm Martin, for some reason or another I have managed to convince the people who run GameSpot that I am actually wor
Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

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487 comments
Ducati996R
Ducati996R

We all need to complain to 20th Century Fox and James Cameron so they can sue Gearbox and put them out of business. Tell 20th Century Fox that they're making one of their franchises look bad and I'm sure Fox has enough lawyers to bury Gearbox ^_^ and complain to James Cameron too.

Jasper_73
Jasper_73

i have to say i think its pretty obvious where gearbox focused their attention. A: cm was announced way back in 2006. Borderlands in 2011. look at the difference in the games obviously in the beginning they had some good ideas for it. when they started running into problems they got bored with it. they then outsourced it to time gate, and put everything they had into making borderlands. the aliens franchise and the fans of the franchise deserve better. they shouldn't of started working on borderlands, until they either sorted out whatever problems they were having, or if it was just not working should have ditched it entirely. then they could work on borderlands. instead of disappointing everybody

tizmond
tizmond

Gearbox dropped the ball with ACM, but let's be honest, it was destined to never live up to the hype & nostalgia, regardless of how good, or bad it was. The people calling for Randy Pitchford's head and saying they are going to boycott Gearbox need to GROW THE FUCK UP. It's pathetic attitudes like that, that can put a studio out of business. Do you really all want to see it boil down to just Activision & EA ? Because if you choose to boycott a studio based on one disappointing game, that's all we're going to be left with, outside the Indie games market. I also find it funny how everyone is pointing the finger solely at Gearbox, when none of us actually know what went on between them & Sega. We probably never will, but people are still quick to judge. Sure, if Gearbox's next couple of games aren't up to scratch, then we can judge them a bit more harshly, but until then, a full-on boycotting of their work is just juvenile.

gp3tron
gp3tron

What these guys should do is make Aliens: Colonial Marines: Enhanced Edition, just like The Witcher, and thats it.

theexperience13
theexperience13

As much fun as Borderlands 2 is (not insanely boring when playing single player like its predecessor :D), I would've preferred that they delayed THAT game instead of making a game that was supposed to be so much better than that garbage AvP into a steaming pile of crap. But of course, gaming is still a business, so Gearbox wanted to shell out the title that has a wider market and fan-base as soon as possible. Not to mention B2 has a boatload of DLC to make them even more money, so it's no surprise that Aliens was put on the back burner. =\

scifiknut
scifiknut

Hm, how can a game with a 6 year developement cycle be considered "rushed". This is awfully similar to the Duke Nukem Forever travesty. Should have learned back then and not pre-ordered the Collector's Edition, although the powerloader is a small redeeming factor ;-) .

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

I wonder if SEGA would really be willing to sue Gearbox. If SEGA knew that development wasn't going well and still poured money into the project then that suggests some very poor decisions on their part as well.

If SEGA does sue Gearbox then a lot of details about how poorly they handled things could come out and hurt them too. Publishers are supposed to keep up to date on the developer's progress. If a publisher doesn't know what the developer is doing then they're not doing their job either. SEGA might just let the whole thing go to save face.

icekula
icekula

I wont be buying games from gearbox ever again after this deception! (utube video Demo V.S. Final Product) Not to mention I've liked this company since Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 first came out on the original Xbox. Randy Pitchford you've lost more by failing in ACM then you ever could of gained by doing well in Borderlands 2!

ferval100
ferval100

No. It suffered because it was poorly made and rushed.

SciFiCat
SciFiCat

I can't believe this is the same developer that made Brothers in Arms and Borderlands.  As for all the empty promises that Randy Pitchford made regarding ACM I can safely say no one is going to believe a single word that comes out of his mouth to promote any of Gearbox's future titles.

silvergol
silvergol

you taked a 1 year to make a review hahahahaha

TOO LATE! 

silvergol
silvergol

Did Aliens: Colonial Marines suffer because of Borderlands 2? 

Answer: Yes.

ZackRoyer
ZackRoyer

No, it suffer from "Generic-Shooter Syndrome", The objective is just walk and shoot. Even 6 years old kids can play and beat this game.

supertrooper23
supertrooper23

i dont understand why sega would trust gearbox with the aliens license? they should have chosen another developer for the job. 

maybe gearbox convinced them they were up to the task which is why i can understand sega seeking legal action. 

goldenboot76
goldenboot76

After seeing the VideoGamer comparison of the "work-in-progress" and the finished product, it shows that Gearbox didn't give a damn about A:CM. Also, Unreal Engine 3 is showing it's age, time to find another engine Mr. Pitchford.

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

To be honest, I wasn't even impressed with Borderlands 2. I only managed to play it for a few hours before being consumed by boredom over it's fairly repetitive gameplay. I mean, I never thought having such a crazy assortment of weapons could end up being so boring. I have yet to finish it to this day because I just can't find the willpower to so much as launch it again.

I don't know, it just felt too similar to the first. Sure it has talking guns and great humor, but witty dialogue and outrageous themes do not a great game make, especially if the gameplay itself is still lacking. 

I don't know, to me it feels like gearbox is a way over-hyped developer. They're making too many mistakes and even their top end titles are not what I'd consider among the best in the industry.

Kickable
Kickable

they need an enforceable industry standard for what games can produce DLC.  Just die, bad games

bolomd_basic
bolomd_basic

Okay, once and for all, this is not Sega's fault.  Although they developed games in the past, they are a publisher now.  There was no administrative mismanagement involved.  They trusted Gearbox, a developer that has made some good games in the past, to develop Aliens.  

Normally, yes, putting out one bad game every once in a while is not a sin. But first of all, this wasn't a bad game made in earnest.  They outsourced it.  And secondly, THIS IS ALIENS!  Space marines, abandoned outposts, pulse rifles.  Forget games like Doom.  It ALL started here.  Anyone with any Geek cred at all should know the sentimental value of this franchise, and treat the making of this game as the honor that it is.  They were given everything.  The original sound effects, music, art design, even the involvement of the original actors.  That they didn't even have the heart to make the game themselves is an insult.  Gearbox is not one of us.  They should be banished, with all geek stripes torn from their cut, and their names stricken from the ancient records.  

Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

That's too bad, I would have preferred a AAA Aliens game rather than a AAA Borderlands game. Nothing against Borderlands, I mean I did buy the game and enjoy it, but it was too similar to the first game...whereas if the Aliens game got more of the attention and turned out much better, we would have had a more unique game in existence today. Oh well, I'm still enjoying ACM a lot, kind of like I would watching a B-movie.  

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

It was better for Gearbox to focus on one game and let another slide than to make two mediocre games. This way there is a greater chance that future Aliens games will be made by another dev than Gearbox while BL remain successful. Sega is the publisher, responsible for the administrative and contractual aspects of the project. They should do better work on that: namely, make sure each project is handled competently by devs capable of doing so.

nigelholden
nigelholden

It's obvious that Gearbox took a lot of time with Borderlands 2.  It shows.  But after Nukem and Aliens. CM, this company seems very Jekyll and Hyde.  Sega trusted them with a hot licence.  It's a shame, but I'm going to be very skeptical of any Gearbox release until all the reviews are in.  

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

I love Borderlands 1 and 2... But with this (and I don't even care about Aliens game, it's just the overall feeling this article gives me) and the obscene amount of DLC for BL2... I don't know, it all makes me feel pretty upset that they focused so much effort on exploiting one franchise and leaving another to flounder... oi....

BLADE7715
BLADE7715

Gearbox software is getting worse. There way to obsessed of the Borderlands Franchise. Plus choosing Gearbox to make a Aliens game? The game kinda felt like playing borderlands, Awesome guns but stupid AI. Sega alone could make it better. But we gotta wait and see how Creative Assembly is gonna make theres. At least there getting help from Cyrtek Veterans.

Xenrathe
Xenrathe

What happened seems pretty clear: Gearbox took on a project they weren't ready or willing to handle. Instead of being upfront about it, they kept taking Sega's money and outsourced development to a smaller, less experienced studio. When the results of TimeGate's efforts were less than stellar, Gearbox realized they were in trouble. They may have tried to fix it, but it sounds like they simply didn't have enough time. They focused too much on Borderlands 2.

Sounds like a series of terrible management decisions. I don't know the ins and outs of the gaming industry, but it sounds like Gearbox reneged on their contract with Sega, maybe even spent ACM money on Borderlands 2 development. If so, I reckon Gearbox should get ready for a legal whuppin'.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

No but thanks for asking Eddie.  Wait your not Eddie?  Then why did you write a news article to ask the audience?

MegaPhilX2
MegaPhilX2

I wonder which one GameStop makes the most money from:
The game bought new with pre-order bonuses publishers give them on a silver platter OR the used games GameStop sells at ridiculously high prices.
GameStop: Power to anyone BUT the players.
That being said, no one should buy a console that blocks used games. Remember that there are other outlets for used games besides than GameStop.

MegaPhilX2
MegaPhilX2

60$ people!
Yet they charged 60$ for that pile of crap.

Clearly our industry is messed up. Don't try to tell me it has matured.

IllegallyAwesum
IllegallyAwesum

This is almost as frustrating to read as Battlefront III articles. I hate how WiiU owners were promised the coolest version of this game, but that won't mean much now...

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Dec 2006 is when Aliens Colonial Marines was first announced just 1 month after PS3 launched. So all that time was resulting in a mere 4.5 that is bad 6 years and the Aliens games bombed.

OverallYeah
OverallYeah

TimeGate studios was responsible for what we get on the single player campaign, Gearbox handed the single player campaign to them since they were busy working on Borderlands 2 ( which is gearbox's signature franchise ). Unfortunately, TimeGate didn't do so well since they remodeled a lot of what we see on the ACM E3 Demo, which is absolutely brilliant. Gearbox wasn't happy with what they did and they had to start developing the game from scratch while SEGA kept on demanding them to not delay the game further. So basically this game is unfinished and Gearbox had to finish it before the release day, they knew it was gonna suck. At least that's what this article told me ; http://kotaku.com/5984068/how-aliens-%C2%ADcolonial-marines-fell-apart?ta%C2%ADg=aliens&post=57369919  

AshTrai
AshTrai

The story with what happened to this game is gonna play out for a loooooooooooooong time to come i suspect. I was stunned when i saw how many 3rd party studio's there were that helped in the creation of this game. 

I thought publishers handing licenses to different studio's so that they could release a  game every year instead of every 2 years was the bottom of the barrel. Nope. Gearbox, u have gone a step lower and outsourced virtually all of the game you were supposed to be making to not 1 but 3 other studio's to cover up the fact that u couldn't be bothered with this game whatsoever. This game will haunt u for the rest of your operational lifespan :P

erix43
erix43

Honestly, I was more excited about  this game than BL2. BL sucks, in my opinion, and it's the same, mind numbing looting, killing stupid characters with the same dialogue over and over again.... Why wouldn't you invest quality in such a great title? I thought these companies were greedy, wtf? Poor Sega. Sega seems to be doomed and I hope they're not the next Atari. So far, everything Sega has its name on, SUCKS. Bless Sega, I miss you. 

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

SEGA why are you protecting those lazy devs??!! ah well all guns prepare to fire...take aim...(whiper;  SEGA you brought this on yourself)........F)(*(&KING FIRE!!!!!

ACWH
ACWH

LOL They are actually going to release DLC for this?? Good luck with that!

FlameBoyBen
FlameBoyBen

Sounds like gearbox really fucked sega


not to mention all the poor souls who bought this crap :(

skullomania2
skullomania2

I can see this game being $2.00 on steam real soon. 

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

If anything good came out of this, then perhaps that all those that preordered will never do so again, helping to put an end to this "trend" of paying for unfinished products whose marketing material doesn't even resemble the final product.

They had to learn it the hard way, but at least it's more memorable that way - Wait until the game is out, inform yourself about facts about what the game is like (reviews, hands on playtest, forums, spoiler free sneak peek videos, ...) and then make your buying decision.

The preorder boni these days are worthless gimmicks anyways, so why bother in the first place - Postorder instead of preorder and save yourself the trouble and wasted money.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Seeing how those two games are nothing alike, no I don't think it suffered because of Blands. Either way it's a crappy game and that is no one's fault but the people who made it.

kozzy1234
kozzy1234

Gearbox has messed up again... first the bs with Duke Nukem Forever and now this.

They make good game with BL2 but this right here with Aliens is not acceptable, shame on you Gearbox and Pritchard. I hope Sega sues them to be honest.

sarevokmb
sarevokmb

"Industry source tells GameSpot".  You mean, Industry source tells Reddit?

Kaz32
Kaz32

I actually don't like Borderlands 2 that much. The characters are probably great to others, but to me they are the most annoying childish morons I have ever seen. Except tiny Tina, she's awesome. The graphic is a hit or miss, to me Theres too much black lines that it makes me sick. It's so boring changing weapons again and again because enemies keeps on levelling up, which confuses me, why the hell do I have to replace guns each and every single time? How the hell can they give more damage? They're guns not swords or spear or that other things that make sense if its stronger because they are much more refined later on.

Now I know its a great game and it deserves its rewards, but its not for me. If I have to describe the feeling of playing the game, its like eating a tasty beef tenderloin steak but I have beef allergy. It's good, but it makes me sick.

Alien Colonial Marines however, is an ok 50-60 game. I haven't bought the game yet and will never ever buy it, but I'm watching the playthrough and it's just like the marine campaign in AVP2010, only that now you can upgrade your weapons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX4CmsDtCKU

Lamachina
Lamachina

HAH! everyone involved been pointing fingers on this turd. hilarious

kohle36
kohle36

So Gearbox couldn't handle the project, that much is obvious. Who do you guys think it should have gone to instead? Who could have made this the game it should have been?

SY_shoot
SY_shoot

haha, junk food and faucet water

botswanky
botswanky

Well, I recall someone posting inside information, either here or on IGN's site that the game was turning out to be a turd, but the comment was censored by the site... hmmm.