Published on May 11th, 2013 | by Fraser Brown5
For shame: Aliens: Colonial Marines got 1.31 million sales
There’s a substantial disconnect between the perception of certain video games, their publishers and developers, and the success of the games themselves. Writing and discussing the industry daily makes it easy for me to forget that the majority of people who partake in our beloved hobby simply don’t give a shit about reviews, controversy, or, indeed, what anyone else thinks.
That’s why Aliens: Colonial Marines, a broken mess of a first-person shooter that we didn’t even waste time reviewing (though others did, and they ripped it to shreds), has ended up being one of SEGA’s best selling games in the last financial year. According to SEGA’s recent financial report, the title reached sales of 1.31 million copies by 31st March, despite being an absolute embarrassment.
While 1.31 million copies is no longer the huge success that it would have been only a few years ago, thanks to the inflated expectations of large publishers, it’s still a substantial figure for a title that few professional journalists had anything good to say about.
What could cause a game so poorly received to squirm its way into so many consumer’s homes? The reasons are likely as many as the game’s vast array of flaws and bugs. Anticipation is surely one of them, what with fans of the Alien franchise waiting years for the game to come out; much in the same way they did with Duke Nukem Forever, which was also eventually taken over by Gearbox and subsequently ended up being a disgusting pile of festering shit.
The hands-off demo is also surely responsible for some of the sales, and certainly the preorders made before reviews came out, based on a demonstration which had little to do with the finished product. Indeed, this insidious, unrepresentative “slice” of the game led to a class action lawsuit against SEGA and Gearbox for alleged false advertising.
And then there are those who possibly just picked the game up to see if it was really as broken as players and reviewers claimed it to be — like the desire to see a dead body, or the way one can’t quite take their eyes off a shocking car crash.
Certainly, the sales figures are not enough to make Aliens: Colonial Marines a true success; not with all the bad press, resulting controversy and the closure of TimeGate Studios. SEGA are at least not attempting to spin this into some kind of victory in the way EA has done with the solid sales of SimCity, which also got critically panned yet sold rather well.
This does, however, raise some concerns, building up within me and being spit up onto this digital page. Is it not about time we started to be a bit more discerning when it comes to our video game purchases? If a name and a hands-off presentation is enough to shift 1.31 million copies of an awful game, then there’s something terribly wrong.
There has never been a time in the history of the medium where we have this much choice. We are simply inundated with options, so why do so many of us consistently lap up excrement when we are so damn spoiled? Folk harp on about the decline of the AAA game and the rise of the indies, but it becomes increasingly hard to take such rhetoric seriously when we see what people are really doing with their wallets.