Randy Pitchford’s Response to Aliens: Colonial Marines’ Critics is a PR Disaster

The Gearbox CEO continues to avoid admitting any wrongdoing by blaming the people who played his awful game.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

It’s been over two years since Aliens: Colonial Marines slithered from out of the cesspit in which it was created and infected our consoles/PCs with its bile, and many still haven’t quite got over just how bad it was. The reasoning behind this is that not only was it an awful game, but that its release was peppered with flagrant lies in regards to its quality from those involved, particularly developer Gearbox Software CEO and president Randy Pitchford. 

Aliens: Colonial Marines was a mess, but the main point of contention with its release is that pre-release footage and screenshots of the game were doctored in order to make it look a LOT better than it actually was. This led to Gearbox narrowly avoiding a lawsuit accusing them of false advertising (which Pitchford later bragged about), and rather than owning up to the quite obvious mistakes made by the company prior to and following the game’s release, Pitchford has instead been acting as if the criticisms leveled against him have been unjustified and, in layman’s terms, has been a bit of a dick about the whole thing.

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But Pitchford’s arrogance regarding the Colonial Marines debacle reached its pinnacle during the Develop conference in Brighton, in which he branded people who complained about the dodgy release of the game as “sadists.” 

“If you’re making entertainment on a grand scale, if you’re reaching millions, there will be tens of thousands of people who absolutely hate us, and some percentage of those will take it upon themselves to let us known how they feel,” he said during his keynote speech.

“I read it in this way: we moved those people, we touched them – even the person who hates [your game] so much, you’ve affected them. That’s why we fight, we’re creating emotion and experience – and some people thrive on that type of feeling, some people are sadists.”

He continued: “There is always the person who’s got to stand on the sandcastle, they must crush it. That’s their way of relating to that. It’s typically a less sophisticated mind. There’s a dark part of us all that likes the idea of crushing a sandcastle, but most of us will respect it and let it be. That’s why we like playing video games where we can blow stuff up and no one gets hurt.”

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First of all, Aliens: Colonial Marines wasn’t a “sandcastle.” It wasn’t some glorious creation that was spoiled by people stomping all over it; those doing the stomping were well within their rights to do so, as they had been sold a game off the back of a lie. There are many awful games released every year, sure, but rarely are they marketed in the way that Colonial Marines was, using demo footage that was nowhere to be seen in the actual game, and visuals that were in no way representative of what the final product had to offer. Even though Gearbox dodged the aforementioned lawsuit, they were guilty of false advertising, and that Pitchford continues to believe that somehow he is the victim in all this, and that the rest of us are guilty of stifling his and the rest of Gearbox’s creative visions by calling him out on his lies to us is insulting.

SEGA, the publishers of Colonial Marines, filed a class action lawsuit against Gearbox in which they claimed that Pitchford “does whatever the fuck he wants” in reference to the game’s misleading marketing, agreeing that footage shown before the game’s release was not representative of the final product. SEGA admitted that the whole situation was messed up, so why can’t Pitchford? 

Also, his statement that people hating a game means that it has “affected them” and therefore warrants the existence of said game, quite honestly makes me want to never buy another Gearbox title again out of spite – hey Randy, Duke Nukem Forever affected me so badly that I don’t want to give you any more money, but at least you’ve created an “emotion” and “experience” for me, so you won’t mind, right?

In short, Randy Pitchford is still coming across like a complete ass, and his masterclass on how not to handle criticism is continuing over two years later. Us thinking his game is shit and that he personally misled us is nothing to be proud of, and that he doesn’t appear to realize this is troubling if not surprising.