Long read: What might the ultimate character creator look like?

Baldur's Gate 3, Street Fighter and Lost Ark developers discuss.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Alice dev American McGee backtracks on EA marketing slur

"'Tricked' is the wrong word. I want to take that back."

Alice: Madness Returns designer American McGee has apologised for comments he posted on Reddit earlier this week that criticised publisher EA.

McGee claimed EA had wanted to "trick" gamers into thinking the game was a brutal and bloody affair, rather than just the odd and darkly beautiful game McGee had actually built.

"They wanted to 'trick' gamers into believing Alice: Madness Returns was a hard-core horror title," he wrote, "even though we refused to develop it in that tone."

The game's marketing was originally put together by external creative agency Shy The Sun, whose "fantastic" work EA then "interfered" with, McGee said.

"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 a part of the race to the bottom [that] EA, Activision and the other big pubs are engaged in. Expect to see it get worse before it gets better."

Two days on, McGee has apologised in a blog post (thanks, Kotaku).

"It attracted a few pissed messages from EA," McGee admitted. "Allow me to expand on my original post while at the same time making a correction (call it a retraction if you like).

"'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. 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.

"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."

"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 favourite creations. And they helped me bring strikingly original content to a gaming world that often seems dominated by bullets and boobs."

McGee explained earlier this week that he has ideas for another Alice game to complete the character's "hero-journey arc", but that the rights to develop the franchise remain with EA.

"Remember when Neo figured out he could mess with the Matrix and reality? Like that," he described.

The designer is currently working on free-to-play PC RPG Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. McGee's Shanghai-founded studio Spicy Horse recently listed the game on Kickstarter, where it has raised just over half its $200,000 funding with 10 days to go.