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Advertising Standards Authority Gets Involved With Aliens: Colonial Marines

Jonathan Lester
Advertising, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox Software, Sega

Advertising Standards Authority Gets Involved With Aliens: Colonial Marines

SEGA Admits Ads "Did Not Accurately Reflect" The Game

After receiving a complaint about misleading and unrepresentative trailers for Aliens: Colonial Marines, the Advertising Standards Authority has insisted that SEGA runs disclaimers going forward.

Reddit user subpardave contacted the ASA following the realisation that numerous pre-release trailers didn't resemble the finished product, and promised features that never made it into the game.

“I submitted my complaint based on the absurd differences between the ‘in game’ and ‘playthorugh’ footage that was widely used to advertise A:CM," subpardave explained in the Reddit post. "Of course, the game looked and played NOTHING like what was shown to consumers."

"The games industry – like any other – needs to be held accountable for blatantly deceiving the consumer. And doubly so when a wall of silence is the only response to resounding criticism for shipping a shoddy product, having shown off one with all the bells and whistles."

“The ASA has little real power. But negative press? That does.”

Following the initial complaint, the ASA contacted SEGA, who admitted that the trailers weren't representative of the (shoddy)  finished article. Here's their response, which you can read in full here.

“Sega Europe acknowledged your objection that the trailers did not accurately reflect the final content of the game. They agreed to add a disclaimer, both on their website and in all relevant Youtube videos, which explains that the trailers depict footage of the demo versions of the game. The disclaimer will be visible when each online trailer is played.

“On the basis of the advertiser’s written assurance, we have decided to informally uphold your complaint. Basic information, including the advertiser’s name and where the ad appeared, will be published on our website, www.asa.org.uk on 27th March 2012.

“Our role in cases such as this is to ensure that marketing material isn’t likely to materially mislead the public,” the missive concluded. “We consider that with this disclaimer in place, customers are unlikely to get the impression that the trailer shows the finished product, and the ads are therefore unlikely to mislead.”

The disparity between Aliens: Colonial Marines and its trailer footage, screenshots, Randy's numerous promises and purpose-built E3 demo caused both gamers and hacks alike to cry foul over Gearbox' abortive sequel. Is this a step in the right direction, or just a slap on the wrist?

Add a comment9 comments
X10  Apr. 3, 2013 at 12:39

This is nothing really. All marketing takes a poo and polishes it with mis-direction. If I make an awesome demo and a crap game but use my awesome demo (with a note on it somewhere saying that this is demo footage) to advertise everything about the game, does that give you a fair representation of what you will be buying?? No, of course not, this is the state of marketing as we have come to know it and the fact that the ASA was happy with this action goes to show they have no power whatsoever.
If the trailers "did not accurately reflect the final content of the game." why let them continue to use them, they should be forced to make new ones from in-game footage to replace the existing ones.

The only thing that would make this an actual slap on the wrists would be if the disclaimer went along the lines of:

"Footage from demo created to make you think the game is fantastic, actual game total rubbish and nothing you see here is in the finished product."

Last edited by X10, Apr. 3, 2013 at 12:40
X10  Apr. 3, 2013 at 12:41

Ha - love the content filtering, I can say poo but I can't say t.urd!

Quietus  Apr. 3, 2013 at 13:45

I'd say that subpardave needs to get out more.

adam.mt  Apr. 3, 2013 at 13:57

ASA's ruling is beyond stupid:

Quote "They agreed to add a disclaimer...which explains that the trailers depict footage of the demo versions of the game."

Surely the average Joe on the street will consider this meaningless since the demo of a game is usually identical or worse (pre-release) than the finished version and they will expect as such.

How is this forced statement admission that the trailer footage bares little resemblance to what the customer will be actually buying?

Lets just hope other games companies don't adopt the same tactic!

Last edited by adam.mt, Apr. 3, 2013 at 13:58
DivideByZero  Apr. 3, 2013 at 14:15

Anyone know if the SEGA mega patch has sorted this hunk of junk out?

Or is this game still as bad as it was on release?

kinkinkaid  Apr. 3, 2013 at 14:58

I played through the singleplayer campaign on PS3 last week - didnt encounter many bugs or glitches but the game is still really ugly looking and boring/frustrating to play.

Some things you just cant patch...

DivideByZero  Apr. 3, 2013 at 17:15


The PC patch promised so much, it sounded like it may sort the game out.

Will continue to avoid.

Anarchist  Apr. 3, 2013 at 17:38

What a load of tosh.

The world english dictionary refers to 'Demo' (demonstration) as 'an explanation, display, illustration, or experiment showing how something works'

the video they display has no bearing whatsoever on the final product, it does not illustrate how the game works in the slightest.

Another poor show by gearbox and the ASA.

Breadster  Apr. 3, 2013 at 19:20

As Adam pointed out, adding a disclaimer saying it's from a demo version is just going to make people think the full game will either look the same or better. What a joke this is, there should be real repercussions for blatantly deceiving people like this.

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