Gearbox Claims It Used Millions of Its Own Cash to Finish Aliens: Colonial Marines, Wants to Be Dropped From Lawsuit

Although published and owned by Sega, Gearbox was forced to spend millions on the troubled development of the Aliens game.

Aliens: Colonial Marines has been controversial ever since its release in February 2013. So controversial, in fact, that some people filed a class-action lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega, claiming that Sega falsely advertised to consumers and Gearbox directed funds for the game to other projects.

This week, Gearbox responded to the lawsuit via court filings (reported by Polygon) and stated that it had no responsibility in the matters raised by the suit. The developer's lawyers requested that the claims against Gearbox be dropped, stating that the company was not involved in the controversy and had no influence over the actions of Sega. Further, the attorneys said that the developer never misdirected funds and that such accusations were false.

In fact, Gearbox executives also revealed that the developer had to sink a significant amount of its own funds into the game, far beyond what Sega provided for its development. Vice president Steve Gibson said, "During the development process, Gearbox supplemented Sega's development budget with its own money to help Sega finish its game; Gearbox's contributions to Aliens: Colonial Marines totaled millions, none of which was ever repaid."

"Gearbox's contributions to Aliens: Colonial Marines totaled millions, none of which was ever repaid."

Gibson went on to deny accusations of Gearbox building levels and even an engine for pre-launch marketing that didn't make it into the full game. "To develop the software, Gearbox utilized the Unreal game engine licensed from Epic Games; this was the only game engine Gearbox used in the design and development of the game," he said. "Contrary to what some believe, the pre-release demonstrations were not made using different game engines."

Discussion and backlash against Colonial Marines began before it was even released. The game received mediocre or bad scores from many reviewers, and publisher Sega was even concerned that developer Gearbox was not investing enough effort into the game. When complaints were filed that trailers for the game published pre-launch were misrepresentative of the final game, Sega admitted that the videos could have been misleading.

Since the launch of Colonial Marines, Sega has moved onto other Alien projects, enlisting the help of Creative Assembly to develop Alien: Isolation. The upcoming horror game launches on October 7 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, and it looks promising. You can read our preview here.

Alex Newhouse is an editorial intern at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @alexbnewhouse
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

164 comments
es496
es496

At least Alien: Isolation could be good. Hopefully.

rdwolf260
rdwolf260

I've actually bought the Collector's Edition that came with the figure and other stuff on Amazon.com...for like $15 shipped.. I think it may have cost like $12 in shipping just to get it to me, they might as well have been giving it away. I can honestly say it is by far one of the worst games I've ever played in my life. Duke Nukem Forever is infinitely better than Aliens: Colonial Marines...seriously. I wanted to gauge my eyes out after a few hours the graphics were so bad. I actually couldn't even finish it. I loved Borderlands, the second Borderlands was more of the same...but experiencing Aliens: Colonial Marines I'll make sure I never pre-order a Gearbox game...I'll wait until reviews come out or the game drops into the bargain bin.

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

Gearbox basically swindled Sega and the gaming public by subcontracting and keeping the money. Sorry Gearbox we know what you did.

Ravanofdarkness
Ravanofdarkness

Should of used all the funding SEGA gave to you for Aliens: Colonial Marines instead of on using some of it on Borderlands 2 and then being like "Oh crap, we ran out of money to finish A: CM time to put enough money into finishing it. Sorry Gearbox but you clearly didn't deliver the quality we all expected from you for Aliens: Colonial Marines, so you are to blame.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

"Contrary to what some believe, the pre-release demonstrations were not made using different game engines."


So they're gonna deny it to their graves. What a slimey company.

vackillers
vackillers

I call that BS. You can clearly see that the prelaunch build, and then WHAT ACTUALLY WAS AT RETAIL are 2 completely different frakking games... SIDE BY SIDE comparisons have been done by just about every media outlet out there. So I call that BS on so many levels, gearbox need to be held accountable for AT LEAST that. Don't really care about the other bs about mis-directing funds ect, thats all internal stuff and something that needs to be sorted/cleared up behind close doors but don't spew out a load of garbage that the engines used were the damn same, thats complete crap, everyone knows it, EVERYONE SAW IT.... this developer is so beyond what I think now its ridiculous to even try to say "suggest" they were the same coz they clearly not. Yes it could be same engine I suppose, but they were clearly 2 completely different games now weren't they? that is what is being brought up, not that the engine was bloody different.


And now this company has acquired the HOMEWORLD franchise, great.......... might as well put that in the toilet as well then!

icekula
icekula

GAMEINFORMER MAGAZINE World Exclusive Aliens Colonial Marines issue 179, March 2008. Aliens Colonial Marines was first released in February 11 2013. So what the hell happened in that 60 months or 5 year time span making the game before it was released?

Slyster1181
Slyster1181

If Gearbox really did use their own money to finish the game it was only after emptying the bucket that Sega gave them for A:CM on BL2. I believe they outsourced much of the game to another company and most likely paid them much less than what Sega was paying Gearbox for making A:CM.


They are in hot water and need to be held accountable for either false advertising ( remember all those BS interviews?!?!?! ) or flat out stealing Segas money.

Techtroll
Techtroll

If sega's at fault why should anyone buy alien isolation

Defender1978
Defender1978

I just want my PC version to look like the original demo.

blackothh
blackothh

I wish Gearbox would stop getting involved in other peoples games, all they do is get shafted and look bad as a result. Stick to games that they alone control and they will be fine.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

The groom doesn't belong at the wedding.
The surgeon doesn't belong at the operation.
The soldier doesn't belong on the battlefield.

This is the logic these guys use to attempt to defend their lie of a game. Gearbox, you shameful clowns.


And for those complaining about DN:F being bad, it wasn't really that bad; just not worth the wait. It functioned as a game. This, however, does not. It never will. It's irreparably bad.

Gearbox. Stick to nothing but Borderlands. It's the only thing you're capable of not screwing up.

Setho10
Setho10

You know I can understand a lot of the complaints but why would a studio spend millions of dollars to develop an engine that looks better than the final release and then not use it? That's called conspiracy theory BS. Unreal Engine 3 can be used to make games of widely varying visual quality. Batman Arkham Knight for new gen consoles uses Unreal 3. So does Bioshock Infinite. But Homefront and Hunted: The Demon's Forge, both super dated looking games, use the engine as well.

So why does the final game look worse than the demo? It's mostly due to either changes in the lighting or vast changes in the overall color setup of each scene. The former are changed during development for one of two reasons. Either dynamic lights were removed to increase performance, or lights were added or brightened to improve the player's ability to see the environment. Both of these seem to be partly to blame here. In certain scenes it simply looks like a bunch of individual dynamic lights were removed and replaced by a couple static lights that illuminate the entire scene. This has a gameplay benefit in that the player can now see what he is shooting, but obviously negatively impacts the tone of the scene. But to make it clear these are likely as much artistic choices as technical choices. Now why those choices were made I don't know, but I would, again, assume that the darkness made actually playing the game difficult and the best solution they could come up with in the time left was just to remove most of the dynamic lights and replace them with big static lights. I would say it is less of a technical issue considering the PC version did not include these lights.

The large color tone changes were likely again changed to increase visibility at the cost of atmosphere. I would bet that the issue here was that six months before release the developers realized during testing that while their game looked great no one could actually play it because of the lighting and color setup. After all the delays up to that point they weren't going to convince Sega to give them time to retool all the dynamic lights so they did the next best thing. They removed them and just popped in a bunch of static lights.

I'm not saying any of this makes the final product okay. What I am trying to say is that there was no conspiracy to trick players. The developers almost certainly thought at the time that what they were showing was what the final game was going to look like. This is true of Watch Dogs and Dark Souls 2 as well which have both had similar complaints. In Watch Dogs case they were showing the game before having any idea what specs current gen consoles would have. They likely just overestimated and had to cut back. And the removal of bokeh depth of field was likely due to simply not having the time to fine tune a feature that would only be able to run on a small percentage of PC's. Depth of field within gameplay requires a lot of tuning so that the player can see what he or she needs to see. It is supposed to aid the player not hinder him or her. Too little and you are just wasting processor power. Too much and the player loses situational awareness. Getting it all down can be time consuming and when you are releasing a game on a half dozen different platforms that type of experimental tech is going to be one of the first things to go.


tl;dr - There is no conspiracy here. No secret unused engine or deliberate attempt to trick gamers. Just a troubled development cycle where the developer couldn't meet their own expectations.

eridian00
eridian00

The only good thing that has come out of gearbox is borderlands. Pretty much everything else has been either "meh" or just plain bad. Duke nukem forever and A:CM have to be some of the worst games I have played. I know there are worse games, but they still chart up there nonetheless

sonicblast19
sonicblast19

More like change from the employees pockets.

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

YouTube, type ''Aliens Colonial Marines what the hell happened''

I bought the game from what i and many others saw from the E3 GAMEPLAY footage. Then to be given this. Lesson learnt. I will NEVER Buy anything from Pre-Ordering or by going off E3 trailers since this happened. 


same thing happened with Watch Dogs and Dark Souls 2 'which i did not buy' and many other games. Its becoming the norm now and its just sickening. It has to STOP....

PS2fweak
PS2fweak

I understand why people are upset, but they should learn this is what happens when you purchase on blind faith. Yeah, it's good to make up your own mind, but sometimes it's not about opinions. Some games should just be avoided. The signs were too obvious with that game. Without seeing any spoilers I figured out I should avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines. 


I definitely think Gearbox should get what they deserve, but it would've been more satisfying if people just avoided the game in the first place IMO. 




DrKill09
DrKill09

Screw you Gearbox.  Maybe you weren't the lead dev (god knows who that was), but you still should pay.  That game was a smelly turd!

demondogx
demondogx

As mutch as i wish to see Gearbox burn, this lawsuit will sadly not make it happen
Ofcourse all the morons who pre order are partly to blame, if it was not for them this game that does not deserve any sales and is a slap in the face of any aliens fan would already be a financial disaster for Gearbox and Sega, but instead they most likely made a good profit off it thanks to the pre ordering morons

KBABZ
KBABZ

Well that's a lie because I don't think anyone who's played Colonial Marines could honestly say that it felt finished.

ArabrockermanX
ArabrockermanX

They are going to have to show some proof of this...

everbodypanic
everbodypanic

Lets say Sega paid me $20 million to make game X. I then funnel that money to finish game Y. Game Y is now funded by both me, and Sega's $20 million. Game X has not been allocated funds yet.

When Sega comes knocking on my door asking about game X, I immediately allocate my own funds, $10 million, to pay someone else to develop game X.


If I say that I had to allocate my own funds to finish game X, would that be true? The answer is yes.

dribblesbarbax
dribblesbarbax

Anything that has Randy Pitchford attached to it I avoid. Its a good rule and it has served me well.

PhoenixRush
PhoenixRush

Of course they're going to deny it. What are they going to say? "Hey yeah, we're crooks. Make sure to buy Borderlands The Pre-Sequel!"

danusty
danusty

I want to see proof of gearbox keeping some of sega's money to develop something else, I also want to see gearbox's own money that was allegedly spent in the game other than the one sega provided.

demondogx
demondogx

You know all those vidoes where Gearbox staff was telling you how mutch they love the Aliens franchise and that it was a dream come true to make this game,and then it turned out they outsourced most of the development of the game to some small studio, yeah i dont believe a word of what gearbox says anymore

Mr_Big_Boss
Mr_Big_Boss

Sega just financed and marketed it. The game was their problem, they need to be held responsible for it.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

Additional thought: I guess what they say is *technically* true, but only because they had to top the ACM budget back up to cover what they funnelled off to make Borderlands 2......

playniko69
playniko69

Your company is still garbage, your games are still garbage, you're all bunch of amateur moneygrabbers who have no perspective in quality gaming. You're all bunch of liars who spent those millions on marketing and sloppy second women at E3. You got balls gearbox, now go die and never come back. 

MigGui
MigGui

@Slyster1181 based on what do you claim that gearbox transferred the money for one game into another, or outsourced the game to another company?

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

@Techtroll No one should. It's developed by Creative Assembly, who just recently lied to everyone about Rome II then proceeded to nickel and dime us with DLC while their game was still unfinished.


It's published by SEGA, who are a bunch of scheming scumbags now.


No one should buy Alien Isolation. Ever. Period.

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

@Defender1978 After watching the video (again) I've got to suspect they subcontracted to another dev before Time Gate Studios (who produced the crap they got released). The original subcontracted dev must have had a falling out with Gearbox and none of their original assets engine included made it over to Time Gate.

My only question is who were the artists at work on this before Time Gate Studios. They deserve a gig.

Cleave83
Cleave83

@Defender1978 It looked a lot more like it after the patch. Didn't fix the rest of the game though..

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@Setho10 There were also bits in the demo that were completely absent from the game. Even the enemies were more dynamic in the demo.

Cleave83
Cleave83

@TERMINATOR-SSD E3 demos are vertical slices that are polished up to the max to get people excited and as a target for what they're aiming for with the full game. The game isn't done at that point and during development things sometimes have to be scaled back to get them to run properly on the hardware. It's nothing insidious most of the time, just wait for reviews and you'll be fine.

Shilleto
Shilleto

@DrKill09 what are you on about game was good me and mates are still playing it

daniel79
daniel79

Because people were sold a lie. Dont be thick.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@KBABZ It felt like a bad total conversion for a mid 90's shooter.

hystavito
hystavito

@demondogx Sometimes when you love something too much, you have to let it go :).

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Mr_Big_Boss  A big part of the lawsuit is that the marketing didn't match the game - and the marketing came from Sega.

Gazz64
Gazz64

@Shilleto @DrKill09 They didn't deliver what they were selling us. All through production we were shown screen shots that fans of the movie said 'Oh yeah, wow I remember that', and we were promised the same if not scarier atmosphere of the movies. They did not deliver. My little bro plays it, thinks its great. I get lost because it all looks the same and the graphics are a mess! I don't recognise any of it and I've seen all the movies so many times I can quote them word for word. Not to mention all the glitches!! I've managed to fall through so many walls and platforms only to get stuck its not funny.