SEGA is preparing to pay a $1.25 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit which claims that it falsely advertised Aliens: Colonial Marines by using a fabricated trailer and demo to show off the game at E3 and other trade shows.
The claim is being pursued against both SEGA and Colonial Marines developer Gearbox, having been filed in April 2013 by Roger Damion Perrine and John Locke on behalf of customers who bought the game. Attorneys for the couple are seeking compensation for anyone who feels that they were mislead by SEGA and Gearbox's representation of the title.
Should the court accept SEGA's proposition, the publisher will play no further part in the case, its responsibilities considered divested. On the other hand, Gearbox is still fighting the case, having made a formal request to have the case against it dropped. Whilst the acceptance of SEGA's settlement would carry no implication of guilt, rather being considered a pragmatic decision when balanced against potential costs, Gearbox is entirely adamant that it is not to blame for the apparent deception.
In a separate case in the UK, SEGA took some responsibility for the disparity between early demos and the final game by accepting a judgement from the Advertising Standards Agency.
"Gearbox never belonged in this lawsuit," the company's lawyers wrote in a July filing. "Gearbox is a video game software developer. It was neither the publisher nor seller of the video game at issue. For more than a year, Gearbox has quietly abided the plaintiffs' claims so that Sega, the game's publisher and the party responsible for the game's marketing and sale, could assume the defence of this lawsuit. Gearbox has honoured its publisher's request in spite of plaintiffs' highly-publicized-and highly-misplaced-claims against Gearbox. At this point, however, Gearbox is obligated to pursue its rightful departure from this case."
Should the court accept SEGA's offer, as the plaintiff's legal team expects it to, $312,500 will be paid to attorneys, $200,000 will cover admin and court costs amd $2,500 will go to the main plaintiff, John Locke. The rest of the money will go into a fund destined for the claims of other customers. In order to apply for remuneration claimants must answer a three question form, have proof of purchasing the game before February 13, 2013 and be approved by the court. No claims will exceed the value of the game itself.
Colonial Marines scored between 40 and 50 per cent on all platforms, according to aggregator Metacritic, despite a single stand-out 90 per cent from EGM magazine. Nonetheless, it saw some commercial success, hitting number one on the UK retail chart.