Timegate Takes a Bullet for Gearbox

Aliens is the tale of a giant mega corporation up to all sorts of nefarious intergalactic chicanery. Somehow, this giant mega corporation manages to screw stuff up royally and run their projects into the ground. It’s a theme that resonates hard in today’s times; days that are layered in economic uncertainty, and a peculiar sense of granularity that everything that happens on Wall Street really does happen on Main Street. That’s why it’s important to look toward smaller signs of larger vistas to get a truer sense of what might actually happen. So if today’s gaming industry related news is to be believed, there’s a storm-a-brewin.

The recipient of the wrath in the short looks to be none other than Timegate Studios. Timegate if you recall; is said to have done a large portion of the work on Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game was critically panned, and underperformed commercially. It may end up being regarded as the worst game of the year, and is now the subject of a class action lawsuit. The reports are that it’s curtains for Timegate, and everyone is being sent home early today. While there haven’t been reports of a George Bluth Black Friday tactic being used; it’s fair to say this wasn’t expected. Or at least not this soon after the games pathetic performance.

What’s more curious is that Timegate is receiving the brunt of the wrath here, not Gearbox. However this lends credibility to the claim from a Timegate employee that is was their studio, not Gearbox that did the majority of the work on Aliens. It is possible that that’s why their doors are (reportedly) closing today. The other much less pleasant possibility here is that Gearbox simply had more operating cash to suffer the blow, and let Timegate take the bullet. Gearbox may very well have been the primary developer of the game, but if that’s the case, why is Timegate closing down today and not Gearbox?

Money; pure and simple.

Timegate hasn’t ever shipped a multiplatform hit on the same scale as Gearbox. While Section 8: Prejudice was a terrific game, it wasn’t Borderlands. Timegate just couldn’t take a financial blow of that size and keep walking. Meanwhile Gearbox has enough windfall to continue to be Gearbox and do audacious things like reveal videogame characters at SXSW, and buy the rights to Homeworld. Gearbox gets to do all this, and still release an exceptionally terrible game like Aliens. Meanwhile Timegate closes down, and can’t even afford their pizza bill. I expect there will be some legal retaliation on the horizon from either Timegate, or SEGA; perhaps collectively. While the outcome of that is hard to predict with any degree of certainty, I can tell you that Texas is a terrible state for lawsuits. Particularly in the Summer.