Randy Pitchford Tries To Defend Aliens: Colonial Marines

Randy Pitchford Tries To Defend Aliens: Colonial Marines

It’s the weekend, which means a new instalment in Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the best writing about games in the past week. Except, of course, when one story is from four years ago.

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Randy Pitchford Tries To Defend Aliens: Colonial Marines

It’s tough to hoodwink game fans, and though it’s been more than two years since Gearbox and Sega shipped Aliens: Colonial Marines, people are still bitter. I get it — I really wanted Colonial Marines to be amazing, too, and felt early presentations were misleading. With a recent lawsuit over the game concluded, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford has been answering questions about Colonial Marines to the press. This lengthy Eurogamer interview valiantly tries to get Pitchford to talk about the game’s development. The conversation is frustrating — Pitchford won’t admit Colonial Marines might be a bad game — but it’s interesting to see him mount a defence. I think it’s praiseworthy he’s doing this at all, as most developers wouldn’t put themselves in the line of fire — period. But he’d probably benefit by a little more “you know, we messed that one up a bit.”

Eurogamer: I’ll make a specific point, which is the graphical quality of the game.

Randy Pitchford: What about the graphical quality of the game? I thought it was great.

Eurogamer: Really?

Randy Pitchford: Yeah. So one decision that was tricky was, there’s platform parity issues, so a PS3 is not as strong as an Xbox 360, which is not as strong as a state of the art PC. So if you play the game on a PC you’re getting the best graphics. And whenever they make trailers, they always use the PC version. But it’s kind of a trick, the fact that PC content is used to market the game when there’s different versions. Pick any game.

Eurogamer: You admit it’s a trick then, so why do it?

Randy Pitchford: Well I don’t do it. I’m not a publisher. I’m a developer. I’m actually not responsible for any marketing. They will put me up there and ask me to talk about the game I’m working on, and I’m excited. I don’t do anything I’m not thrilled about. So you’ll feel the energy come off of me.

And in fact there was one point… I don’t want to get into that. But sometimes I get kind of concerned about how they’re representing the game and I try to make a point.

Randy Pitchford Tries To Defend Aliens: Colonial Marines

This article was published four years ago, but I only came across it this week, and I love the premise behind it, since it summarises so much of hyperbolic arguing on the Internet about favourites. It’s a brilliant way to talk about the best and worst parts of our most beloved games, and I’d happily read a deconstruction of other major game franchises using the same approach. (For the record, Final Fantasy III/VI and Final Fantasy VIII are the best games in the series.)

Why it’s the best FF ever: Every saga has a beginning, and this is where the root of one of the most legendary game franchises of all time took hold. Final Fantasy I is a classic that hews closer to the classic pen-and-paper RPGs that inspired the genre than any game to follow. By assembling a party of your own choosing (out of classes that would become standard in sequels to follow), you decide for yourself how you will tackle the story — much like assembling a group of buddies for an AD&D campaign. There are countless ways to challenge yourself — how about trying to complete the adventure with an all-mage party? And by challenge, I do mean challenge — Final Fantasy has some very tough dungeons, and even the regular enemies pose a series threat to the party, unlike the pushover monsters in the games to follow. And when you do get to the end, prepare for a story twist that’s surprisingly sophisticated for its time.

Why it’s the worst FF ever: FF1 is nearly 25 years old, and it shows in the game’s sloppy construction. The story and the way it’s presented is lame: the game rarely spells out where you need to go next, leaving you wandering aimlessly quite often — this results in hundreds of unwanted, frequently lethal random encounters. These regular enemy groups are incredibly tough, while bosses are a relative pushover. And did we mention how incredibly buggy and imbalanced the game is in the magic department? Half the spells don’t work as advertised, and since the intelligence stat is completely worthless, mages are woefully underpowered at endgame. Sure, you can play Dawn of Souls on GBA for a lot of bugfixes and a revised MP system… if you like Wii-style Baby Mode difficulty.

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Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Jon Irwin spoke to fifth graders about Satoru Iwata’s death; the reactions were amazing.
  • Chris Baker chatted with various analysts about the now-uncertain future of Nintendo.
  • Luke Fox examined what it’s like to record thousands of lines of commentary for NHL 15.
  • David Roberts outlined his unlikely but entertaining theory for Arkham Knight (spoilers!)
  • Maxwell Neely-Cohen argued our relationship with video game violence may be healthy.
  • Asher Vollmer showed how Threes is making tons of money with a free and paid version.
  • Chris Kohler praised an upcoming documentary about collecting every NES game.
  • Drew Toal had a recommendation for video game masochists: play the new Godzilla game.
  • Ian McKellen explained how he made more money on the LOTR games than movies.


  • That Colonial Marines article was a frustrating read. Pitchford goes from evasive to stonewalling to even playing the persecuted victim!

    He needs to sack up, admit he allowed a turd of a game to be released and thank the makers of Isolation that he didn’t manage to ruin the Aliens gaming franchise forever.

    • He won’t, of course. Pitchford is a smug asshole who’s gloating openly about how he ripped off all the stupid suckers he conned into preordering his crappy game with fraudulent prerelease material and got away with it. He has no standards, morals or decency whatsoever.

  • I think the thing Randy Pitchford should be doing is admitting that A:CM was a pile of putrid dogshit and apologise for releasing the game.

    • Not just that, but also for destroying Duke definitively. Gearbox nearly lost me as a customer on DNF. They did lose me after A:CM

      • That is a little short sighted, I mean they had what six months to polish a steaming pile of shit (yeah I concede it was shit), but its not like they were the key developer. Taking the reigns for the last six meters of a 180 meter race and losing is not the same as running the first 174 meters and losing.

        I have seen many interviews with Randy (plus an odd “cribs” geek style of house where he basically breaths games) and I personally think he just likes his company way too much. It must suck to know that in order to acquire the IP he had allow his companies name to be tied to a title that is synonymous with Hype train failure (read as the cause of anal warts).

        As for Colonial, yeah don’t know what the fuck they were thinking on that one. While I do believe that he should apologise for both titles, I think people hang a lot of shit on him for a guy that has had a part to play in many more great games than the duds people like to keep bringing up.

        • I was willing to let forever slide because the doctor who cloned me DLC was still pretty fun even if it wasn’t quite Duke nukes. However A:CM killed all my willingness to give them any more chances.

  • That was painful to read. Randy pitchford seems like the new peter molyneux. Shooting his mouth off, then feigning ignorance.

    Also borderlands isnt a valid scapegoat. If youre critical of his work, randy will just say “but borderlands”.

  • Randy Pitchford is a lying sack of shit and a snake in the grass. Cannot be trusted.
    Do not trust him.

  • The fact he claims PS3 couldn’t handle the same graphical power as the Xbox shows how much bull he spouts. The PS3 was about on par with, maybe slightly more powerful then the 360 but was a bit of a pain to develop for.

    Suck it mate, admit you stuff up and move on.

  • I call him Panzy Bitchfraud as it sums up what has happened well, while still making an excellent pun of his name.

  • Man, that was difficult to read but for reason opposite to what most people think. First off I agree that he is an infuriating git and an absolute master of handwaving. However he made a very valid point amidst the pile of vague misdirection, with which I can simpathise as someone whos’ been part of collaborative creative projects:

    No one sets out to create a bad product and asking someone “why did you create this piece of shit?” is both offensive and myopic. It’s clear that lots of people worked really hard for a long time and tried their best and had the best hopes for the game as they worked in it. It is clear that at some point some one (or some people) dropped the ball, flushing the hard work of others down the drain. However, I think it is admirable that Randy resists the temptation to single out the people and events that caused the downfall. How much easier would be to publicly shame the people to blame and making them escape goats! But standing up with your team is at least a sign of good leadership.

    He agrees that there were polish issues and that he wishes he had more time but it is clear that they were forced (likely, by Sega) to release the game in that date, in whatever shape they managed to whip it. So yeah, there were undeniable issues, the game was not in the state of quality that Gearbox would have preferred but after all this time, I think they deserve some slack and understanding.

    I mean, that game already costed them millions of dollars, valuable partnerships, good will and access to a really popular franchise. When you compare it to the, what $48 or whatever lesser, Steam-Sale amount that you lost, I think that two years of hate and vitriol should be more than enough to make up for it and it’s time now to move on. What else you want of the man, anyway? Maybe he needs to go public saying “Yes, I admit it, ACM is a cancerous piece of camel excrement which we created in a dark dungeon out of bile and children’s screams to fulfil our pact with Satan to bring misery and despair to the world. However, your incessant nagging and vitriolic comments on the Internet have made me see the error of my ways and now I’ll go to each of your houses, fell prostrate at your feet, lick them clean and then refund you twice the cost of the game to you, even if you pirated it.”

    • Well… it’d be a start.


      [Edit: In general, I sympathize with the point you’re making about trying not to throw anyone under a bus, and the frustrations that come from being left holding the bag for someone else’s fuckups, but the buck has to stop somewhere. Otherwise everyone would just say, “Not anyone’s fault! Collaborative project!” and no responsibility would be taken, no admission of wrong-doing made. There is never a situation where it’s acceptable for no-one at all to be held responsible for a fuck up. The buck stops somewhere.]

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