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American McGee AMA: EA ads for Alice were a 'trick'


American McGee, the man (and name) behind Alice: Madness Returns and its predecessor, has a lot to say about developing those games, working with EA, and Kickstarting his latest venture, Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. His recent Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit reveals a few gems, including some insight into how EA handled the Alice: Madness Returns trailers with animation company Shy the Sun. Spoiler: McGee isn't a fan of EA marketing.

"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)," McGee writes. "That resulted in trailers that were much darker and gorier than the game, and that was a calculated disconnect created by EA. They wanted to 'trick' gamers into believing A:MR was a hardcore horror title, even though we refused to develop it in that tone.

"Their thinking is, even if the game isn't a hardcore 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 a part of the race to the bottom EA, Activision and the other big pubs are engaged in. Expect to see it get worse before it gets better."

How's that for dark? McGee notes that his Spicy Horse studio is the largest Western, independent game development company in China, and he discusses how he ended up there and the stress of maintaining a successful indie studio.

"Working as an indie means having a terrifying amount of freedom," McGee writes. "We make decisions that we know might simply put us out of business 6 months from now."

For more insight into how Alice came about – The Crystal Method's "Trip Like I Do" had something to do with it – and all things McGee, check out the Reddit AMA.

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