American McGee: EA tried to “trick” gamers into believing Alice: Madness Returns was a horror title

Monday, 21st January 2013 15:54 GMT By Nick Akerman

American McGee has criticised EA for trying to “trick” gamers during the development process of Alice: Madness Returns.

The well-known games designer pulled no punches in a recent forum discussion.

“What was frustrating was how EA Marketing interfered – telling STS from the start that ALL creative direction and final say would come from them, not from us (the developer/creator of the story/tone),” wrote McGee during a Reddit AMA session.

“That resulted in trailers that were much darker and gorier than the game … and that was a calculated disconnect created by EA”, he continued.

“They wanted to ‘trick’ gamers into believing A:MR was a hard-core horror title, even though we refused to develop it in that tone. Their thinking is, even if the game isn’t a hard-core horror title, you can market it as one and trick those customers into buying it (while driving away more casual customers, like female gamers, who might be turned off by really dark trailers). It’s all part of the race.”

EA released McGee’s Alice sequel in June 2011. It received decent critical success, achieving a Metacritic score of 70 on both the PS3 and Xbox 360, alongside an average PC score of 75.

McGee and Spicy Horse’s next project is Akaneiro: Demon Hunters, which remains in open beta until tomorrow.

Thanks, GI.



  1. YoungZer0

    I think everyone on the EA marketing team should be fired. Everyone. Without any exceptions. Those people are an embarrassment to marketing and … people in general.

    They really piss me the fuck off. Just look at the ads for games like Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3 and Army of Two Mexico Whatever.

    “Your mother is going to hate this game!”

    “Now with useless kinect functions! Look at people talk about it.”

    “Yo, duuuude, i’m just a fucking stupid skater boy, who doesn’t know shit about videogames, but man have you seen how this guy lost his arm, like buuuurggghhh, so cool, man. Look at my hair, duuuuude. It makes your girlfriend jelly. Dude.”

    I mean you read some of McGee’s quotes and you really have to ask yourself, why the FUCK would anyone want to work for a big company like that and why are so many people in marketing fucking stupid dinosaurs?

    Go fuck yourself EA.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Maximum Payne

    So non horror game is advertise as horror game , but games like Dead Space that is at least some type of horror is now marketing as shooter.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ristas

    This article should mention that STS stands for “Shy the Sun”, the company that created the Alice: Madness returns CGI trailers (there you go: ) And these trailers really do convey the mood and atmosphere of the game imo.

    So when McGee is saying “…telling STS from the start that ALL creative direction and final say would come from them, not from us (the developer/creator of the story/tone)” he is merely talking about the trailers, not the game. You don’t get that from this article.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. TheWulf

    Eh. The problem is that American McGee’s games are incredibly average and that he’s looking for just about any scapegoat to handle that burden for him. If a game is good, it’s going to sell well regardless of marketing. Though good marketing can admittedly make bad games sell far, far too well.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. roadkill

    First, I think this is a great game! Incredible really. I love what they did with it. But it’s a horror game. If you play it until the end, and you should!, you’ll see that I’m right.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. DrDamn

    “ALL creative direction and final say would come from them, not from us (the developer/creator of the story/tone)”

    Interesting comment from someone who has just his name before the title of the games he works on …

    #6 2 years ago
  7. YoungZer0

    @7: Still better marketing than EA.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. mobiugearskin

    Dont remember this being sold as anything other than what it was

    #8 2 years ago
  9. NeoSquall

    @3 Thanks, I’ve been wondering what this “STS” was.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Sini

    I dunno there were lots of “horror” theme moments in Madness Returns. And I mean lots, the entire storyline especially the second half once it gets going has horror theme written all over it. It is still third person action adventure game, but definitely with horror undertones throughout.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. xxJPRACERxx

    @3 Yeah, thanks man for clarifying that marketing only had control on the trailer and not the actual game.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. ariessiren

    MCgee should check himself for making a dull boring game with zero bosses that were cut out for time restraints. what you got was a boring platformer that was unfinished and had zero depth. McGee sucks as a developer, he is more interested in selling his name than he is actually making GOOD games. his games are always underwhelming but he makes sure you know your playing AMERICAN MCGEE. like hes a god or something. he sucks hes lucky EA even gave him a chance. hes not that good people

    #12 2 years ago
  13. ariessiren

    EA realized his game was dull and tried to save it. thats the real story. theres a reason EA booted his ass out the door. he cant deliver the goods and they tried their best to make their money back and they did just that. He is more in love with his name brand than he is making deep games.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. BEZZ

    Cool game!

    #14 2 years ago
  15. silkvg247

    “while driving away more casual customers, like female gamers, who might be turned off by really dark trailers”

    Oh for crying out loud.

    I bought both Alice games precisely *because* they looked dark. I was then let down because the games weren’t that dark after all.

    Gotta say I love how females are used as an example of casual gamers.

    The irony is this thinking is what causes girls to go down the path of casual or non-gamer in the first place. This mindset. This assumption that gaming is a man’s world which keeps it exactly that – a man’s world.

    There is no reason whatever for girls all over the world to not be playing video games right now. The problem is they’ve all been led down a path that’s hard to stray from, where the fun things are for boys and the girls should shut up and make babies. It gets worse and worse, nobody seems to want to change things.

    We should ban booth babes. It’s insulting to a man’s intelligence to try sell something with tits, and it’s obviously insulting to women. Event models in the guise of videogame characters I can accept, sexy or not. At least it’s relevant. BUT it should be a mix of male and female. I’m sure the ladies wouldn’t complain about a sexy Kratos flashing his biceps, in fact she might even buy the game and become a fan. Sexiness sells both ways in this regard.

    I guess I got off track but it is actually all related. It’s one big circle of fail. The reason girls don’t play games stem from the comments such as this from AM, type casting women into casual when they might actually enjoy proper gaming more, if only someone would open the door and hand them a controller.

    #15 2 years ago

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