By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about the rumors circulating surrounding Gearbox’s recent “development” of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Well, for those who have been waiting for the truth to come to light, that day may finally be upon us. This past Friday, an anonymous Sega employee posting under the name “Bryan Danielson” came forward with his own account of what transpired during the game’s lengthy development cycle. This information comes from the SEGA Awakens blog, and, according to Destructoid reviews editor Jim Sterling’s personal sources, is being considered legitimate and truthful. I’ll post the information in it’s entirety, and then provide some brief commentary. This section of the post focuses on correctly attributing blame throughout the various stages of development. Without further ado, here’s the story:
“TimeGate is at fault for: Wanting to even take on this project and their shoddy work. Granted, I heard about their claims about Gearbox having full creative control, but they should have tried to show their side of the argument and fight more if they had problems with Gearbox’s creative control and creative direction. Honestly, I thought they should have risked some arguments and the possibility of losing the contract, if they had problems with the project like the reddit poster said. However, there still is a chance of their claims being a lie or a half truth, but as I said above, TimeGate has some responsibility. I’m not sure about the stuff that was thrown out. There is a chance that TimeGate may have not been allowed to use the already created material (it can cause legal issues), and Gearbox is saying they threw it out to discredit TimeGate. Then again, there could be a chance that TimeGate really did wanted to throw out whatever Gearbox already worked on for some reason.
SEGA is at fault for: Announcing the project in 2007 when no work was done at all. In my views, a game project should be announced publicly when it is 50% – 60% done, so you won’t have to wait 6 years for a game that turns out to be shit. SEGA is also responsible for not permanently cancelling the game in 2008. I don’t know who found out about the mishandling of funds by Gearbox, but it had to be one of the few right decisions the board has done, or this person is one of the few board members who knew what they were doing (from what I heard, this person may have left the board a while ago when SEGA decided to start the project again). This game should have been cancelled permanently, and the final product is undeniable proof of it. Despite that, I believe SEGA wanted to try to get some of the money back, at the fans’ expense. So another blame for SEGA there. SEGA should have also watched the project and development a lot better, because there was a lot of warning signs that said this was a disaster in the making. So whoever was assigned to watch Gearbox and the game has some responsibility too, unless the board was forcing him to do it. SEGA and their lawyers also have some blame on the wording of the contract too, but more on that later.
Now here is the company that should get most of the blame: Gearbox Software and Randy Pitchford. Gearbox stole from SEGA, they robbed us, lied to us about the game, and tried to get another company to make the game instead. Let’s see where the funding went shall we? Everyone said the game went to both Borderlands games, but Duke Nukem Forever gets a mention as well, but it’s pushed out of the spotlight, because people want to forget about that game, and I don’t blame them! Duke Nukem Forever, had a big impact on Aliens: Colonial Marines (ACM) as well. Don’t believe me? Let’s read this article here.
It clearly shows that Pitchford and Gearbox wanted to focus heavily on Duke Nukem Forever, but how would they get the money to hire some of the 3D Realms team and even buy the intellectual property? Sure, they made a lot from Borderlands, but guess where they got the money to fund Borderlands in the first place? Yup, SEGA. So Gearbox essentially lied to SEGA, mishandled funds, broke agreements and contractual obligations to work on other projects, didn’t want to work on a game they were contractually obligated to work on and gave it to another team, poor organization and direction on ACM, took on too many projects from different companies at once, and other things that we may not even know about. Hell, part of me believes that Gearbox wanted this thing delayed as much as possible so they can get more funding money to embezzle from SEGA.
Now before I go on, let me clarify a few things in this post: As I mentioned, most of the information that is already posted online is at least 99% true. I did not hear about this earlier, because I never seen the Aliens movies, I’m not a fan of the franchise, I’m not familiar with it, and I wasn’t even assigned to the project, so I didn’t care about it. It’s why I didn’t hear much until all of this negative press came out, and I had to talk to some co-workers. They told me what I’m telling all of you now: At least 99% of what was posted online is true. This is depressing as hell for all of us, because money that should go towards our paychecks and the well being of the company was taken from us.
As for the legal action, I’m hearing rumors that SEGA still might try to find ways for legal action on Gearbox for the massive train wreck this whole saga has caused, and they should. However, since the game has been released, the contract has been fulfilled, so depending on the wording of the contract, there might be no legal action taken against Gearbox, or having a case against them will be difficult. I strongly believe that SEGA should not have released the game and made the fans pay for it, they should have taken Gearbox straight to court, because they stole money from us to fund Borderlands and Duke Nukem Forever! By all rights, Borderlands 1 and 2 should be a SEGA published game, since they got the money from us to fund the game, and since those games are smash hits, our jobs here at SEGA would be more secure and just having those two games, the SEGA brand might be on a path to being revived somewhat. Instead, we’re going through this difficult period of our lives, and people have lose their jobs from this, and in my view, having ACM game on their resume will damage their chances of getting back in the industry, and I hope they do, well the good people at least, since there are good people on all sides of this mess, who knew something was wrong.
I’m pretty much done, but let me say that this should be a lesson in management for you all. In my view, the board and the people supplying the money should not have any creative control over a product, I mentioned this before with Alpha Protocol. The board, or the person who is representing the board should keep an eye on how the project is coming along and establish good communications with the development team working on the game, and see if there is any problems or mismanagement going on. It’s a fine balance of being involved and not being too involved where the board member tries to hold creative control. In this case, what happened clearly was SEGA had a decent eye on the project, rightfully cancelled it, when they saw the problems, then someone decided to restart the project, leading to this massive mess.
Where is our money Randy? We should get sales from Borderlands 1 and 2, since it was our money that funded it.”
So, while Gearbox certainly deserves the fair share of blame, it seems everyone involved is guilty of at least a couple mistakes. This whole debacle is turning into one of the juiciest stories in recent memory. Of course, please keep in mind this information remains unconfirmed and as such must be considered speculation. Hopefully, someone will come forward and take some responsibility for the game’s horrid launch and lack of polish. I’m personally looking to hear statements from both Sega and Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford specifically.
Are you guys still interested in the ongoing Colonial Marines story? Or would you just like to put the entire thing behind you and move on? Share your thoughts on the developing situation in the comments below.