Recently, American McGee issued some statements over trailers for Alice: Madness Returns, saying that Electronic Arts marketing interfered with the tone and focus of the videos, which he said was reflective of a “race to the bottom” by large publishers. After a firestorm of coverage and some angry emails from EA, he issued a correction via his blog.
“'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,” said McGee. “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.”
“We live in a world full of marketing. Marketing tells us the '2013 Land Yacht' is more stylish, powerful and awesome than last year’s model. Or that a certain toothpaste is going to get us laid more often. That a wrist watch will finally force the world to understand just how adventurous and manly we are. Or that a game contains lots of blood and guts – even when the creators don’t think that’s the primary selling point. Alice: Madness Returns does contain a lot of the stuff you see in those trailers, but my concern was that the main character was being portrayed in a way I felt didn’t align with her character as I understand it.”
Continuing, McGee became contemplative over the state of the gaming industry. “There has always been and likely always will be tension between publishers and developers over stuff like this,” said McGee. “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 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 percent… 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,” concluded McGee.