After suggesting that EA were trying to "trick gamers" with the marketing campaign for Alice: Madness Returns - with the trailers making the game out to be rather more horrific and gory than it actually was - American McGee has moved to clarify his statement and amend his previous criticism.
Addressing the issue on his blog, McGee responded to "a firestorm of press coverage" following his initial statement and retracted the word "tricked", issuing a carefully constructed description full of buzzwords and marketing speak that seems a teensy bit tongue-in-cheek at times.
“To my surprise,” he wrote, “this ignited a firestorm of press coverage from the game media. It attracted a few pissed messages from EA. Some readers have even suggested this has killed any possibility of my ever being employed by a game publisher again.
“Allow me to expand on my original post while at the same time making a correction (call it a retraction if you like). 'Tricked' is the wrong word. I take that back. Apologies to EA and anyone else whose feelings were hurt. Electronic Arts doesn’t trick customers into buying things.
“They carefully apply proven marketing techniques to achieve the desired customer response. If they were bad at this sort of thing they’d have been crushed by their competitors long ago and you’d be playing Madden Football from Activision or Atari or something.”
Ah yes, "proven marketing techniques". Like targeting kids for an 18+ rated survival horror game. McGee went on to address the disconnect that often occurs between developers and publishers.
"There has always been and likely always will be tension between publishers and developers over stuff like this," he continued. "Truth is, publishers are giving audiences what they want – again, if they weren’t they wouldn’t stay in business very long. Maybe I don’t agree with where gaming content seems to be going – but isn’t that the prerogative of aging creators? To complain that things are too loud, too bright or too fleshy?
"At the end of the day, I’ve got (well, had) a good relationship with EA. They helped put my name on the map. They funded two of my favorite [sic] creations. And they helped me bring strikingly original content to a gaming world that often seems dominated by bullets and boobs. I can’t and don’t fully fault them or their marketing for whatever the 'Alice' games might or might not have done sales-wise. As a developer, do I grumble into my beer about how it could have been different if only… ? Sure do! But I also recognize my own faults, and actions which are to blame for things not being 100%… or for inadvertently igniting firestorms.
"Call this a mea culpa, an apology, a clarification or a cop-out if you like. My feelings around these topics are nuanced and complicated enough that I myself barely understand them most of the time."
We rather presume that EA's extensive legal department might have gotten involved had McGee not presented this clarification, but what do you think? Do marketing departments need to take a little more responsibility for things? EA don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to controversial marketing stunts.