In the era of digital distribution and its accompanying pre-orders, it has become even easier to ensure good sales for the game: if you work hard on PR, you can start collecting money from players already before release. And here the marketing department of CD Projekt RED surpassed all expectations assigned to it: it provided the project with 8 million pre-orders . Cyberpunk 2077was supposed to become the main game of the generation, and from the point of view of the hype, it did: for two months after the release, the brainchild of Poles did not leave news reports, and topics on forums and social networks were bursting with posts about Cyberpunk. They just discussed there mostly not the merits of the game – there were enough of them too, admittedly, – but bugs and nightmarish optimization of the console versions. At the same time, the audience recalled to CDPR all the loud promises that remained unfulfilled.
In light of recent events, we decided to recall four more major scandals of this kind.
Hello, I am Ken Kutaragi, and now I will show you the graphon!
In the first half of the 2000s, game graphics were still hopelessly inferior to CGI videos, and this was actively used by PR specialists, often passing off renders as demonstrating the real capabilities of the engine. Slightly less often screenshots of cutscenes were used for these purposes, the graphics in which were often much better than in the gameplay itself, where the picture quality was lowered in order to save resources. However, there was also a better cheat: pictures specially created in a graphics editor, imitating scenes from the game, but in reality having nothing to do with the engine. The creators of the popular comic strip Penny Arcade in 2005, he called them “bullshotami” – from the bullshit (nonsense) and the screenshot.
The same year, the famous scandal with the presentation of the shooter Killzone 2 at E3 2005 fell . PS3 and games for it were personally presented by Ken Kutaragi – the creator of the PlayStation . According to him, the buyers of the future console should have received exactly what they were shown in the video. A little later, the vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America Jack Tretton clarified that the footage shown in the trailer was taken from the gameplay. Which, of course, I could not believe from the word at all: at that time the graphics in games (even PC-exclusives) did not stand next to such an impressive picture. But how high-ranking Sony employees – and especially Kutaragi – can lie?
It turned out that as much as they can. Although feykovye trailer exposed pretty quickly, the whole story of the false presentation of a series of authors Killzone laid only in 2017. According to Guerilla executive producer Angie Smets, the commemorative video was created for internal use and only reflected the vision of the future sequel. The developers at that time had not even received the PS3 dev-kit yet, but they believed that such quality of graphics would be achievable on the new console. And, of course, the team was not informed that the video would be used at E3, and even served as a “gameplay demo”.
Fortunately, time has put everything in its place, rehabilitating “guilty without guilt” Guerilla. Released in 2009, Killzone 2 received rave reviews in the press, and the graphics quality, while inferior to the trailer four years ago, was still great. At least compared to other console shooters.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
The story of the deafening failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines consists entirely of controversy, scandals and litigation, during which the developer and the publisher tried to shift the blame on each other. According to the investigation of the infamous Jason Schreier, the authors of Borderlands did not take an active part in the creation of the game until 2010, and there were at least two reasons for this. First, Gearbox for some reason undertook to finalize the long-term construction Duke Nukem Forever, which greatly spoiled my reputation. Getting involved in an adventure with other people’s work and trying to put them together in a short time is a big risk: they will ask you anyway. Secondly, due to the resounding success of Borderlands, the studio immediately began work on a sequel. Meanwhile, two teams were involved in the development of Aliens: TimeGate Studios oversaw the single player campaign, Nerve Software – multiplayer.
The head of Gearbox Software is also a professional illusionist. What, in general, hints
The game was fully announced at E3 2011 . In an 11-minute clip, studio head Randy Pitchford chased the pretentious tales of how big an Alien fan he was and with what trepidation his team recreated the atmosphere of the 1986 movie in the game. After the trailers of 2011 and 2012, it was hard not to believe what was said: here you and a team of paratroopers exploring the dilapidated expanses of the colony, and the familiar sound of a pulse rifle, and pitch darkness. Later, Randy sang a lot of praises to the lighting system, which the developers were “very proud”, but in reality, Pitchford was terribly unhappy with TimeGate’s performance and instructed his team to get it all done. By that time, the game had already undergone several transfers, so it had to be brought to mind at the Stakhanov’s pace.
When Aliens: Colonial Marines finally saw the light of day in 2013, the rage of gamers and journalists knew no bounds. The quality of the graphics (especially on consoles) was much inferior to that shown in the trailers a year earlier, the AI curve turned ruthless xenomorphs into blind ducklings and cannon fodder, and bugs climbed from all cracks. Following the hullabaloo raised Frustrated journalists and players, swam human revelation, presented by the former employee of Gearbox Software. It was he who shed light on how things really were: the story campaign was completely outsourced to TimeGate, and Gearbox’s contribution was limited to only minor participation in the development of multiplayer. He called the entire six-year development cycle a “disaster.”
The next day, representatives of Sega (she acted as the publisher) denied this information, saying that it was Gearbox that was responsible for the project, and the participation of other studios in the development was minimal. Pitchford himself also assured reporters that TimeGate contributed approximately 20%, with Gearbox doing the rest. At the same time, the network spread the rumor that Randy spent most of the funds allocated for “Aliens” on the development of Duke Nukem Forever and Borderlands 2 . Gearbox CEO deniedaccusations: according to him, he not only did not steal money, but also invested his 10 million dollars in order for the game to come into being. Curiously, actor Michael Bean, who voiced Corporal Hicks, stated in a 2018 interview that the staff working on the game were not very enthusiastic.
But whoever is really to blame for what happened, the fact of misinformation on the part of the advertising department and Randy is obvious. Subsequently, the developer and the publisher found themselves in the dock in a fraud case. Sega acknowledged that the trailers did not reflect the quality of the final version, and Gearbox blamed the publisher for the unfair marketing. And while the studio’s business has improved since then thanks to several sequels to Borderlands, the status of a “liar” (as it was later dubbed by gamers) was firmly entrenched in Randy Pitchford. The fiasco with “Aliens” is still remembered to this day.
No man’s sky
Sean Murray, the creator of the infamous No Man’s Sky , has managed to win over the players with his charm and oratorical talent. “I acted exactly according to Molyneux’s training manual,” – this is how Thomas Mahler subsequently described the whole situation with the game .
Funky Sean Murray
According to Murray, No Man’s Sky promised dozens, if not hundreds of hours of unique experience: all thanks to a large-scale procedurally-generated world where you could endlessly explore the galactic expanses. The spectacular (and, as it became clear later, fake) trailer was as impressive as Sean’s tales of multiplayer. Financial support from Sony and winning two nominations at The Game Awards 2014 pushed the hype to the limit. But the miracle, unfortunately, did not happen – there was a very loud scandal.
The bitter truth about No Man’s Sky came out two weeks before the release: one of the Reddit users miraculously took possession of a copy of the game and shared not only a gameplay recording, but also his impressions, full of disappointment. According to him, No Man’s Sky was full of bugs, the duration of the story campaign was negligible, and the multiplayer, which Murray trumpeted to the last, was simply not in the game. The story quickly reached the creator, who asked players to wait for the release with the accompanying patch and not spoil the experience. Alas, this was another lie: the multiplayer mode never appeared, and most of the technical problems were never fixed.
The No Man’s Sky scandal once again reminded the entire industry of the problem of bullshots and fake trailers. Following this, Valve , for example, banned the use of such content when posting games on Steam . And the presenter of The Game Awards Jeff Keely, who presented Murray with several awards, took responsibility for himself, promising to continue to believe only the gameplay records, and not the staged videos.
Nevertheless, it is worth paying tribute to Hello Games : after a loud revelation, the team did not disappear into thin air with the money of deceived gamers, but began to actively refine the game. Over the years, No Man’s Sky finally has both multiplayer and new mechanics. The public seems to have forgiven Murray, and the once “repentant” creator of The Game Awards re-presented him with the award in 2020. The latest development was a patch that optimizes the game for the needs of the next generation of consoles.
For Peter Molyneux , two years before his seventh decade, well established title of chief storyteller gaming industry. And not at all because the fantasy Fable became the most popular and long-playing series of the master . A succession of successful releases, received with a bang by the public in the 90s ( Populous , Dungeon Keeper ) and the early 2000s ( Black & White ), turned the head of the man who created a new genre: the god simulator. He praised his projects more than vain politicians who give out loud promises during the election campaign: for example, he called the still in development Fable “the best game ever created.”
Molyneux promised to release an RPG that will bring an unprecedented experience. Players, they say, will be able to create families, plant trees and watch their growth, and the children of killed enemies after reaching a certain age will certainly want to get even with the protagonist. In the end, none of this was implemented. Sometime later, Molyneux even addressed fans on the official forum with an apology. Here’s how he explained his empty communication: “Everything I talked about was in development, but in the end it was left out. For example, three years ago I talked about growing trees. But when the team started to implement this feature, it became clear that it puts a heavy load on the processor. ” (Fable was developed for the Xbox – ed.)
Looking ahead, we note that one of Molyneux’s distinguishing features will subsequently become the habit of shifting the blame onto others: either the journalists misunderstood him, or the publisher ruined the game with his excessive interference. Nevertheless, Fable was warmly received by the public – the enchanting atmosphere of the fantasy world, coupled with sensible combat and excellent technical performance by the standards of the console, made the audience forgive the storyteller Molyneux. Although the sediment, of course, remained.
Can these eyes lie?
Peter began to lose credibility and weight in the industry a little later – and it all began with an ambitious Project Milo for the then-upcoming Kinect controller . The head of Lionhead Studios has once again begun to issue loud promises, positioning the project as something unique to the industry. In the memorable promo video (below), one could observe how a real girl communicates with a virtual boy Milo, who reacts quite vividly, depicting emotions and answering questions. Of course, such an impressive presentation could not but stir up interest in the future device. However Microsoftfor some reason, I personally dropped all the works of PR specialists to a well-known place just a couple of months before the release of Kinect. It turned out that Project Milo was just a technology demo that was not going to be turned into a game and released to the market.
All this time, Molyneux insisted that he was working on the game, and when the truth was revealed, he made excuses for a long time, explaining what had happened by the fact that he could not convince the management of Microsoft (by that time the company already owned Lionhead Studios) of the need to release the game. Say, the bosses did not fully believe in the success of the project. A little later, in an interview with IGN, he did say that his employer was giving him a headache, and the “air trade” was as much a shock to him as it was to the public. However, after the story with Fable and its sequel, about which Molyneux also lied from three boxes , the audience less and less believed Peter’s beautiful stories.
Molyneux’s words finally lost their weight in 2013, when he parted ways with Microsoft and the game designer founded a new studio 22Cans . Since the rights to Fable remained with the former employer, Peter decided to try his luck again with another god simulator. Molyneux collected money for the future Godus on Kickstarter , distributing promises to gamers (and in this case also to investors) according to the already proven scheme. To warm up interest, the head of the studio decided on a creative experiment, releasing the game Curiosity – What’s Inside the Cube? In it, gamers had to disassemble a giant cube, and whoever did it first was promised a reward.
About five million people took part in the social experiment, and Brian Henderson became the winner – he was entitled to a special status in Godus and a free excursion to the development office. As the winner later said, the game did not cause him much enthusiasm, and subsequently the studio stopped communicating altogether, so Henderson did not receive any privileges over other gamers. Molyneux explained this by the dismissal of the employee who was responsible for communicating with the winner.
The situation with Godus turned out to be no better: in the “best traditions” of Peter, most of the promises, including multiplayer, were never realized. As one of the creators later said , the release of the game in the form in which it was presented on Kickstarter was not possible in principle. According to Molyneux, they began to write threats to him on the Web, so in a big interview with The Guardian, the game designer swore never again to communicate with the press and not talk about his projects. And, of course, Peter laid the blame on gamers and journalists: they say, if you just share your ideas with the public, they are immediately regarded as promises. Later, a journalist from The Guardian noted: “An hour after publication, we discovered that the day before our conversation, Molyneux had given an interviewportal Rock Paper Shotgun, where he also promised not to communicate with the press. Another unfulfilled promise . “
As for Godus, the weak demand, largely due to the lack of a multiplayer component, led to the fact that the developers themselves very quickly forgot about their brainchild. The situation was not corrected by the later spin-off Godus Wars , which gamers smashed to smithereens for dull gameplay.
Of course, this text does not exhaust all the cunning that game developers have allowed themselves in the entire history of the industry – we have paid attention only to the most resonant cases of recent years.
What examples of the most egregious swindles do you remember?