"We think the video game industry is no different than any other that deals with consumers," says the plaintiff's representative, Edelson LLC.
Sega and Gearbox have been targeted in a class action suit, taken up by legal firm Edelson LLC on behalf of Damion Perrine, alleging that Aliens: Colonial Marines was falsely advertised by showing demos which bore very little relation to the final product. The suit argues that, because of the press embargo that only lifted on the game's February 12th launch, those who bought early or pre-ordered would have had no idea that significant discrepancies between the demo and final game existed.
"Each of the 'actual gameplay' demonstrations purported to show consumers exactly what they would be buying: a cutting edge video game with very specific features and qualities," the claim states; but, as we know now, that wasn't entirely so. The class action cites a specific Tweet by Randy Pitchford, Gearbox head, in which Pitchford seems to acknowledge that differences existed and were significant. "That is understood and fair" Tweeted Pitchford, in response to a statement by a fan, who argued that the people just wanted an explanation as to why the game was so different from the demo. "We are looking at that," Pitchford went on to say. "Lots of info to parse, lots of stake holders to respect."
Edelson LLC, the firm representing Perrine, argues that the video game industry is no different from any other industry that deals with consumers. "If companies like Sega and Gearbox promise their customers one thing but deliver something else," said Edelson's Ben Thomassen to Polygon, "then they should be held accountable for that decision." This isn't the first time Edelson has delved into the game industry's murkier waters. It previously acted on behalf of gamers upset over a mishandled promotion, and broken promise, concerning Battlefield 3's PS3 release. Edelson describes that case as "presently in settlement posture," but goes on to say that it continues to monitor the industry, with a view to keeping "the booming video game business honest."
Update: Sega and Gearbox have both responded to the suit.
Sega: "Sega cannot comment on specifics of ongoing litigation, but we are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and we will defend it vigorously."
Gearbox: "Attempting to wring a class action lawsuit out of a demonstration is beyond meritless. We continue to support the game, and will defend the rights of entertainers to share their works-in-progress without fear of frivolous litigation."