Escapist Podcast: 091: Sega & Gearbox False Advertisement Suit

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Glad to see you back Janelle! Some great discussions. :)

I am glad that Susan brought up Bioshock Infinite in this discussion. Granted, it wasn't as buggy as Colonial Marines (at least the PS3 version I played wasn't) but I was still disappointed with what I ultimately got because the 2010 and 2011 gameplay videos showed a game that, to me, was a superior product than what I ended up with. I spent almost an hour putting together another post in the general gaming forum dissecting all the differences between the previews and the final product, so I am not going to go through that again here.

As far as what I hope we get from this debacle? I hope we get what Susan was talking about with the hair dye example. We buy a game and if we don't get what we paid for, we can return it to the retailer we got it from and get our money back. Basically what Amazon did with Sim City. Now, it's my understanding that Amazon did that on their own with no guarantee that EA will refund Amazon the money that they lost. If that is true then I can see why retailers are hesitant to start adopting this kind of a return policy for video games. I don't know all the legal stuff that is involved when the publishers and the retailers agree on a deal for buying and stocking games. If the agreement is such that the publisher is legally exempt from having to refund any money to the retailer what-so-ever, then I hope that retailers as a group boycott the industry and force them to agree to terms that allow for reimbursment for copies returned by customers due to not delivering the product that was promised. Because the price of buying 100 units of hair dye is nowhere near buying 100 units of a video game. A retailer can afford to take a hit on the occasional defective box of hair dye or the occasional defective copy of a game to keep customers happy. But if every single copy of a game that they sold gets returned and the publisher won't reinburse them, that is a BIG financial hit for them to take.

While it's certainly the most visible aspect of the controversy, this Aliens fiasco isn't just about the PAX/E3 demo. People on both sides of this argument are too focused on that. Demos always promise more than can be delivered, be it overhyped gameplay or features that have no chance of making the deadline. If that's all this was, I don't think you would see the sense of betrayal that surrounds A:CM. People are familiar with those kinds of passive deception, and it's cynical to think that this controversy is just whining because the game wasn't better. Not that it makes it right or okay, but those kinds of practices have become hallmarks of salesmanship. Not just in the game industry, but everywhere. People get that. Gamers get that. Hell, I've seen great demos for games that never came out, but even that doesn't inspire the hate associated with A:CM at the moment.

A:CM isn't infuriating because Gearbox and Sega raised our expectations and then didn't meet them. It's infuriating because they had countless opportunities since the 2012 demo to make this right and actively choose not to do so. They could have delayed the game (again). They could have cancelled it or released more accurate footage or offered refunds to people who felt betrayed. They didn't and they don't, because they were more interested in getting their check than doing right by their gamers. Even to this day, most of the marketing materials for A:CM contain "screenshots" and video from a game that will never exist. Then when asked about the problems, they wring their hands and point blame and say they don't know what happened.

Of course, the legal case hasn't a leg to stand on and I typically fall into the "buyer beware" camp. I think the best we can hope for is that these kinds of controversies will help to create some better industry standard practices, and ultimately I'd like to see someone step in and end the no-refund policy on games.

But for that to happen, we need to better understand the problem. It's not one demo that creates this sense of betrayal and outrage. It's the behavior of companies that have engaged in these practices and told these lies every day since.

OMG Susan has terrified me into White-listing, if the adds start to roon my enjoyment again I'll buy a pubclub membership; Tis only fair.

LOVE the longer podcasts and it was great to hear from Janelle, Keep up the great work guys x

(Also as someone who over-dresses for work as well, can I just say that; Josh looked THE BOMB! Well payed sir, well played.)

Susan Arendt:
Don't be silly, I don't mind that at all! Very few people have ever crossed the line with me personally on twitter, and I've said something to those who have. :)

well I'm Canadian so expectations and everything

What I wold like to see come out of the Colonial Marines debacle is some "God Damned Respect for the Consumers!". I want companies to start treating consumers like a valued asset whos trust is to be cultivated like a rare and fragile orchid.

Even thought the legal battle will probably be lost it ignores the greater issue that many people will not buy any game from gearbox from this point forward because they are now known to make shit games(yes I know borderlands is good but their overall record is pretty poor atm. remember Duke Nukem?). I am pretty much repeating what Jim Sterling said in his Jimqusition episode about the game but it needs repeating.

Just imagine the consumer outrage if you bought a high end corvette that advertised high quality carbon fiber skirts and 4500cc engine with build in GPS and universal socket for your devices. You put down all the money for the car at once they deliver it to your home and what you get is a car that looks like the picture but the paint is already flaking off, the skirts are made of cheap plastic, the engine is 2000cc and the GPS only works in one language that you do not know. Then when you try to return it the manufacturer tells you that you accept the product as is when you signed the delivery confirmation sheet and you should have known that the product was subject to change.


Susan Arendt:
Don't be silly, I don't mind that at all! Very few people have ever crossed the line with me personally on twitter, and I've said something to those who have. :)

well I'm Canadian so expectations and everything

I don't understand what that means.

Susan Arendt:


Susan Arendt:
Don't be silly, I don't mind that at all! Very few people have ever crossed the line with me personally on twitter, and I've said something to those who have. :)

well I'm Canadian so expectations and everything

I don't understand what that means.

well you know because Canadians are supposed to say sorry a lot. though I do understand that the type of humour I was going for is really hard to convey over the internet sorry.

What I try to do when tweeting at people who don't me/I don't actually know, and even for people I do know sometimes, is that if I don't get some acknowledgement that my contributions were appreciated, even indirectly, then I skip tweeting them the next few times I feel like I have something I might want to say.

Most job interview tip articles I've seen tend to be pretty worthless, but apparently people really are just that dumb.

When it comes to Twitter I get super nervous when tweeting to someone that's well known. I don't know why, but I feel like I'm butting in. Maybe with time I'll get over it, but it's still a little weird to me to talk with someone that I don't know or vaguely know.

With the whole interview thing my dad has some stories about that because he used to work for the state of Arizona and he told me some of the things that people would do during an interview. So when Janelle rattled off some of the tips from that article I wasn't that all surprised, but I'm still shocked that people still do that crap. Maybe I'm just lucky that I never had to do an actual professional interview since it's more of what you know and can you do it rather than sit down and chat about the job.

Said this on the facebook-comments too and, copypasting the meat of it since I have some other things I want to say.

Hm... on the twitter-thing, I personally always TRY to just... not be a dick. That's pretty much it. But I can't resist the occassional snark to someone's one-off remark or, answering questions asked to the stratosphere...
Which to be fair is pretty much me in real life. I'm not a very vocal human being. I am not fond of vocal communication.
Social IQ's hard though, especially in the online space. Personally I feel I've gotten... reasonably alright at it. Usually staying quiet figuring "I will be ignored anyway". Which probably says alot about me. I'm comfortable just hanging back and watching other people communicate. In social situations, I mean.

For the lawsuit... On the one hand I want to see Gearbox and Sega hoisted on the fact that the game was... well, kinda, shit. But on the other hand, I don't think it'll go anywhere. I still feel it has more ground to stand on than some other gaming related lawsuits we've seen the past few years though.

As for the writing, I've been told I'm a good writer by teachers and so on for..just about every english-class I've had over the years. I don't believe them, personally. Ofcourse if I was trying to get a writing-job I probably would try to give that impression.
Though I don't just... the inverview stories baffled me. I'm unemployed right now and have been for a while(which by the way, sucks), and I... I don't get it... how, just HOW do these people do these things? Do they just not want the jobs? Can I have them instead?
I mean I'm reasonably intelligent and can at the very least bullshit myself out of most situations or as a sales-pitch. Oh and I know not to bring the freaking dog to a job interview or pick up my phone during it... Some people just seem too dumb for employment...

Keep on rockin' podcat! Great to see Janelle on it again and, hope for a speedy recovery.

And, absolutely no half-decent questions? That hurt...

Nice podcat. Interesting litigation issues.


I think there is a certain concern that could arise among devs to not show early if the plaintiffs are victorious, though I think it's easy to assume the 'precedents' of these kinds of events will have more lasting gravitas than they do at the time. Splashes in the ocean, yeah?

That said, I think the class action is a impassioned case of principle over the actual compensation. I think the process is part of the punishment for the plaintiffs - giving SEGA and Gearbox a hassle and black eye in the press.

I think Aliens: CM existed at a particular intersection of things where it was a particularly coveted, touted property with an especially fail-on-its-face trainwreck.


The interesting flipside of this 'rip off' 'big studio' preorders versus an increasingly prevalent early access alpha build pre-purchases from smaller devs. I think it's a really interesting trend and move towards acknowledging the iterative nature of videogames as a medium. Sure they're works of art, all of them, but they come in version 1.2.004 etc.

The whole kickstarter / early access / pledge indie transparency is a much more consumer - cooperative approach. There's transparency, community interaction, etc. It might not be appropriate for all titles, but look how well it's worked for - off the top of my head - Minecraft, StarForge, StarDrive, ARMA 3, Prison Architect, and more to come.

It's an interesting flip to say, "this is riddled with bugs, but you can play it now, for less money and cooperate in addressing your issues". Now, it's interesting that those examples are almost all sandbox or 4X strategy... I think it would be much more difficult for a title like Deus Ex / Dishonored / Bioshock / Uncharted / Final Fantasy / any linear narrative game...

Food for thought. Hope you enjoyed this post.

On the whole ad-block issue, I've had the Escapist white-listed for years but after listening to the pod cast I started noticing that I wasn't seeing external ads, only escapist ads. Then I noticed that my script-blocker was still active and after a little playing I realised that I'd have to white-list hundreds of sites to stop the inadvertent ad-blocking.

So instead I went for a Pub-Club membership, way simpler in the end and I hate the thought of free-loading off you guys.

Huzzah, the triumphant return of Janelle! Hope you are doing well, the Game of Thrones bonus-casts feel somehow lacking this year without you.

Also, Ice Cream van turf wars are srs bsns here in the UK:


Most job interview tip articles I've seen tend to be pretty worthless, but apparently people really are just that dumb.

I feel the same way. And that whole thing Janelle said about not wearing a cheap watch with a suit, that is something I consider a common sense kind of thing. The fact that some of this stuff has to be spelled out to people and was never taught to them, either by a parent or in school, is very disappointing.

what i realistically hope comes from this lawsuit is more consumer awareness and a slight hit on gearbox's credibility, very slight mind you.

I'd just like Gearbox to say they're sorry. For anything really. Even just, "We're sorry you got the wrong ideas about how we make and advertise our games." Show a bit of humanity, sheesh. I mean, sometimes game dev teams divert from the planned path of making their game just to make something good to show at E3 and other press events like PAX. It's a bit dishonest, actually, yeah, it's really dishonest, and mostly retarding -- In that it slows down the actual development and the hacked together scripted events, code or assets are bound to be scrapped right away because it's all kludge ridden unmaintainable garbage... But that's what happens.

What I think would be best and what I think could happen are two different things... What would be best would be to maybe address the issue of Artificial Scarcity in the Information Age, and instead make money by marketing your ability to configure the bits instead of trying to sell that which is in infinite supply (and thus Economics 101 says has zero price, regardless of cost to create). You can't sell Ice to Eskimos, yet folks think selling software to people with computers is a worthy business model... It's not like it's rocket science: You just ask the customer for the funds up front based on your reputation (or installments), and do the work, then since you just got paid to work, you distribute the 1's and 0's for "free", need more money? Do more work. Not getting enough money? Don't work for less than you need. Of course, then you have to be directly accountable to the customers, and you can't pull the wool over anyone's eyes for long... but, It's how mechanics and home builders, and every other labor market works. Crazy, right? "Intellectual Property" is what's crazy -- That's a futures market for ideas, which become infinitely reproducible as soon as they're published; So it's not just crazy, it's economically untenable. That's a discussion for another time though, I suppose.

If I were a big-time publisher I'd try to distinguish myself by getting the word out there a bit earlier and be a bit more open, like some indie game devs do; A less restrictive "embargo" -- Don't try to control the market by manipulating data, that's evil. I get why they do embargos from a marketing standpoint, but it's not really helping them. Perhaps just address the issue of why they have such a hardon for making sales within that first release week (see above: They didn't get assurance to be paid yet from the customers, and so their own IP futures market works against them). If the embargoes are to catch folks unawares before they figure out how crap the game is, well, that's morally corrupt no matter how legal it is, and it hurts sales from repeat buyers. Gearbox lost me as a customer for life, and probably all the folks whom I inform what games to buy...

If embargoes are because advertising is more cost effective if drummed up all at once in some kind of digital pump and dump scam, then maybe that's not such a good idea after all? I mean, what? All the games have online non-features in them, and they're trying to funnel the most people into the servers without actually wanting to pay for enough infrastructure to support that initial spike, because the average traffic will be much less later? Yeah, that's just deceitful, manipulative and bad customer relations, but it's what the market will "bear"... If it were me I would just calm down, release some real info about the game, screw media hype at E3 or rushing for a PAX build, let the devs focus on the actual game, let reviewers get their hands on it, get feedback from some of the best feedback sources in the Universe (for free), get a little publicity by being more open, save the marketing money on employing the dev team longer to make better games (instead of running them into the ground right before release, Every. Damn. Time), and thus create a dialog with the public, the people who you're really working for... Then again, I'm an honest guy who just makes games for the love of it, and as a chance to express myself, WTF do I know about anything? And for that matter, WTF do they know about anything? Certainly not economics 101... or even basic information ethics.

"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."
- Commissioner Pravin Lal
Alpha Centauri

Devs/publishers should release demos then.

So nice to hear Janelle again, we've missed that cheerful squeeky laugh.

You touched on it slightly but yes, youtube commenters need to chill out

So for me the big thing with the A:CM is the fact that they continuously used footage from the preview as if it was a representation of the game to the very end. If they honestly at one point thought the preview would be representative, and then realized they didn't have the budget or time or whatever, they should have stoped using the footage. According to Jim Sterling, footge from the preview was used in TV ads after the game was released! At that point, they clearly knew the footage was, to put it bluntly, a lie. Compare to Bioshock Infinite, who showed of a demo, but then continously showed us how the project was evolving. The marketing material prior to release was not derrivative of their initial preview, it was representative of the game in a way that A:CM never was.
If your material is subject to change, stop showing it to us once it has changed!

On the topic of people saying they're amazing at things when they have only their friends/family/teachers to go on: there's totally a reason I don't post tons of art to really public places. I know me. I know how warm and fuzzy I feel when people tell me I can't produce anything worthwhile. Sad thing is they're probably right. I have no formal training in anything art-related. I spent my college time learning programming and tons of lovely math. I'd deserve whatever I got in criticism (except the ones that are "You should just kill yourself now." I'll take "You should never ever pick up a pencil again," but telling me my life is forfeit for not being amazing at something I've never taken lessons in is kinda silly).

And the truly sad thing is: I will never hear just how bad I suck from anyone who cares about me. You'd think they'd be in the best position to tell me, but they never will. Hearing "You're bad and should feel bad!" from random people is one thing. Some people just like to watch the world burn. But hearing "Hey, you know, you show promise and should consider lessons," from family (in contrast to "ERMEGERD, THIS IS SO AWESOME I FORGOT WHERE I LEFT MY CAPS LOCK KEY!!!!1!one!!1!") and friends might actually be helpful. I think, when someone is in this environment, they can wind up not seeing the forest for the trees very easily. Then, when the real world tells them just how awful they really are, they'll either sink or swim (i.e. give up their passion because they suck, or try even harder to prove to everyone ever how great they are), or just start disbelieving the world (it only hurts when people you respect tell you how bad you are. If you consider everyone to be an idiot, however...), depending on how they were raised. I learned "Always get back on the horse and never end on a bad note," so I keep drawing, even though I know I suck (although I still don't feel compelled to be told to what exact degree my life is worthless because I keep drawing). As far as that dude who wanted to be writing reviews for AAA games? He either was never told just how good he really was, or is too afraid to actually hear it. I could be wrong, but that's what it sounds like to me.

On the topic of job interviews (too much to say and not a concise person, sorry >.<), I get why that article was written. No one teaches how to job interview as a part of regular schooling (I got some, but most of what I learned I had to go to the library for), and 99% of hiring individuals (HR, managers, anyone who is interviewing) don't want to give ANY feedback, lest they get sued. The few times I have seen feedback given, the person applying has handled it poorly. So, I get why you wouldn't want to be yelled at for trying to help someone, even if being sued wasn't the most important reason. No feedback + no notion that these things are inappropriate = someone who has no idea what they're doing wrong. Hell, most jobs I've applied and interviewed for never told me I wasn't chosen for the job. They just never responded to me after my thank you note (interview pro tip: every job I got loved that I sent a note thanking them for their time. It totally works). If you're a hiring manager/person/whatever and you can tell someone that you found their texting extremely rude: tell them. They may not thank you, but then we won't have these unbelievable suggestions floating around.

As someone who was born and raised in Florida. My home town is either a geriatric ward or the wild west. When i was 11 i was standing in our quite suburban gated community driveway. A mini-van pulled into out drive way and a man started running toward me. He then ran past me into our back yard and out of site. Ten seconds later 15 cop cars surrounded my house turned out the dude just robbed a bank. Luckily they caught the guy no one was hurt. The moral of the story is Florida people be tripping. Personal opinion is that it is a combination between the water and the sun.

Love you guys thanks for all you do. Thought id share that lil gem with you.


People still wear watches? Maybe just me, but as for the interview topic, I haven't worn a watch in forever and I seriously would just opt for not wearing one at all than having to worry about wearing the "right" watch.

I think if you wear a watch, you're more likely to look at it in general, and may seem like you're in more of a rush and not caring about the interview you're in.

So the only person who compliments my writing is my English professor and she raves about. I told her that I have no interest in English or writing, so she's not doing it to save my feelings. Does that mean I'm a good writer?

Those ice cream people upstate could learn a thing or two from how Mr. Softee operates down here in the city!

One double-parked right next to me, trying to distract me, while the other guy cut off my brakes with a crowbar!" the first-year fro-yo slinger said of a tense 15-minute episode.

"They tried to do it [so] we wouldn't notice. That was the point--so when we leave we wouldn't come back again. If you see a Mister Softee truck, you know bad things are coming!"

The Yogo vendor declined to use his real name for fear of reprisal, and cops were kept out of it, said the rookie, as the two competing bosses resolve matters privately


The friction is not limited to rival vendors: at least one ice-cream man claimed to be the victim of Softee-on-Softee violence.

"They walked up to the truck and said, 'Next time we see you here, we shoot you,'" said Leon Zaid, 34, a seven-year Mister Softee man who said he had parked his truck in Columbus Circle recently and was greeted by gun-toting Softee thugs from another truck.

Reached for comment, Benjamin Van Leeuwen tells us that his driver, Travis, was being followed by three Mister Softee trucks as he tried to find a place to park near Lexington and 55th Street. When he pulled over, they surrounded him and "threatened to kill him" if he didn't leave midtown. Van Leeuwen tells us, "They do that all the time," but so far this is his company's first brush with the Mister Softee mafia in midtown. He tells us that Travis considered calling police, but in the past they've been "really unhelpful" and reluctant to file a police report, and Travis wanted to get back to work.

I love the idea of a demo for every game, and is the main reason why i am looking at buying a PS4 verses the new x-box if i decide to buy a console this year.

The twitter thing: Twitter is a public space. if you post something to public space, expect it to be commented on by anyone. If you dont want people to tweet to you i got the best tip for you: stop using twitter. because twitter was made for people tweeting random personal crap. the whole idea was tweeting what you ate for breakfast and the fact that people use it for better things is a good side-effect if anything.

Coverup thing: Just because its the industry standart does not mean its not the cover-up.
It is very sad that the lawsuit will fail, as such things should not be allowed to happen.

When did they start having podcasts with a camera? I have not seen any podcasts for a while.

since podcast 84

Someone mentioned it already, but I'm surprised that the crew didn't think of the "helicopter parent" as a possibility for the parents inappropriately accompanying their kid to a job interview. I see the parent "being dragged along" as a great deal less likely than the parent insisting on dragging themselves along.

I thought it was interesting how a lot of the "Well, they did this thing and that is not cool" got handwaved away by saying "Yeah, but that's industry standard." I just don't know if that should be a sufficient excuse. Release-day Embargos, puppet theatre with fake videos of fake gameplay... "Industry standard" shouldn't make that okay.

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