The last decade in video games have been filled with ups, and downs, and unexpected twists and turns. Did anyone expect an unknown studio from Poland would have released one of the greatest open world games of all time with the Witcher 3?
Well this video isn’t to celebrate the many accomplishments the industry achieved over the last ten years, rather we are here to roast the biggest failures, let-downs, and embarrassments that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Artifact was Valve’s response to Hearthstone, the hugely successful card game based on the World of Warcraft Universe. This was Valve’s first ‘big’ game since DOTA 2, and it flopped, HARD. The game launched at the end of November 2018 and had over 60,000 players. Only a couple months later this was down to under a thousand. But what caused this massive drop?
Although the game had phenomenal visuals, depth, and polish, there was still something missing. Players reported that the game was just straight up boring. This past week the number of active users are hovering around 100, I can’t say I expected a new Valve IP to flop like this.
9. The Ouya
The Ouya was one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all-time raising nearly 10 million USD, well surpassing their goal of $980,000. It all happened so fast, within the first eight hours the goal had already been met, and it was averaging a new backer about every 5 seconds.
But what exactly was the Ouya? It was a new micro-game console running on an Android OS. It’s biggest selling point was the price of $99 USD. Their goal was to bridge the more “hard-core” console market with the mobile segment. A living-room android box would allow developers to create games at a much lower price point, while giving gamers a much larger library of games to play.
After Kickstarter backers received their units, the Ouya hit retail, in June 2013. Sales were abysmal according to the NPD group. In an interview one of the Developers of Towerfall (an Ouya exclusive) stated their game only sold 7000 units, it was the best-selling game on the platform. The Ouya went out kicking, they started a fund matching program allowing Ouya exclusives on Kickstarter to receive additional funding, however, it was too little too late. By 2015 they had too much debt and eventually got picked up by Razor, who killed it off.
8. Google Stadia
The months leading up to Google Stadia’s launch was plagued with uncertainty and frustration. Following the announcement of the game streaming service there was confusion regarding what the product was. Many thought the service would include a games library in the subscription cost, which it did not.
As time went on it became clear that Google had little to show where it counts, with software. They had a single exclusive, Gylt, which unfortunately was not received well by critics and consumers alike. Compare this to Microsoft’s introduction to the games industry, with Halo: Combat Evolved, it was a game that truly revolutionized shooters on consoles.
Google wasn’t ready on launch day either, Stadia had a horrendous launch filled with technical problems. Many users experienced large input delays and overheating Chromecasts, making the product effectively useless. Users who were able to get a strong enough connection discovered the games weren’t truly running at 4K resolution, which is something Google had promised. Google then turned around and pushed the blame on developers for this.
Months have passed since the launch of Stadia and the community has been dead silent. With Microsoft’s XCloud (game streaming service) around the corner I’m doubtful Stadia will ever make a comeback, but weirder things have happened.
7. No Man’s Sky – Launch
Following the reveal trailer at the VGX Awards in 2013, crowds were already hyped at the prospect of this game. The trailer showed off a fully procedurally generated universe, from planets and galaxies, to the creatures which inhabit them. In other words, it was Minecraft with spaceships. The hype continued to pile on when Hello Games announced that Sony would be publishing the game as an exclusive. I mean with Sony’s backing what could go wrong?
During these years prior to the games release in 2016 is where things start to get fishy. What we do know is that Sean Murray, one of the founders of Hello Games made some crazy promises about the game. Through interviews, trailers, and E3 demos we saw a game that looked destined for success.
However, when the game launched the whole sham fell apart. Most of the cool features that Sean had promised over the years simply weren’t present, and the ones that were present were grossly over exaggerated. It would take a couple of paragraphs just to list them all so instead I’ll leave you with a link to this 10-minutes montage of features Sean showed off that didn’t make it to the game. The list includes realistic solar system physics, ship variation, docking on space stations, faction battles, multiplayer, complex animal life, and more.
Customers were outraged following release, a reddit thread paints a clear picture of the disastrous and confusing launch. Some were even talking about starting a class action lawsuit for false advertising while others laughed stating it was obviously a scam you could see from a mile away. Either way it makes it even more fun to watch the infamous Game Informer rapid-fire interview where Sean just piles the lies on.
6. Fallout 76
Fallout fans were drooling for the next fallout experience, and Bethesda knew it. They hosted a live stream proceeding E3, teasing the next fallout game. A TV with the words PLEASE STAND BY on a fallout-themed background. During the live stream various people came out and fooled around on set, placing a bobblehead down, giving the viewers a thumbs up, and dumping balloons everywhere. It was just weird.
The actual announcement at E3 went smoothly with a stellar reveal trailer. But more importantly, the fans were hyped.
Unfortunately for Bethesda, upon release the everything came crashing down, the average review score on open critic was 54. On the reddit Review thread people complained of the endless stream of bugs and lack of meaningful content. It was clear Bethesda ran this game out the door, the fans were furious.
Following Fallout 4’s mediocre reception, Bethesda needed to knock it out of the park to gain back their fan base’s trust, and they did the opposite. I think all cards lay on the next fallout game, slowly we are see this franchise deteriorating.
Activision had Destiny, Ubisoft had Division, and Bethesda had Fallout 76. EA was now pushing to get their ‘games-as-a-service’ title out of the oven. They gave to task to Bioware, the fabled development-team behind Mass Effect and Dragon Age. But when everything was said and done, we were left with was a half-baked game and a devastated studio.
The game launched in February 2019 and was ravaged by reviewers and consumers alike. The game was plagued with bugs, frequent and long load times, poor design choices, a generic story, and a near non-existent endgame. Some players even reported the game bricked their console. Overall reviewers compared it to Mass Effect except without all the ‘good-stuff’ like the phenomenal story and meaningful NPC interactions. Bioware had become a shell of what it used to be.
A month later Jason Schreier from Kotaku gained some clarifying insight from behind the studio’s doors. He interviewed 19 anonymous sources on the development team and learned about the shit-show that went on during the development of Anthem. Communication was non-existent, depression and anxiety ran-rampant, even seasoned developers were dropping like flies. I don’t think BioWare is the heroic studio it once was.
4. Mass Effect: Andromeda
The Mass Effect franchise was one of the most beloved north American RPG franchises of all time. The first was an-instant hit, it brough the ability to truly immerse yourself in the game. It featured deep dialogue trees, real decisions that mattered, a fully-fleshed out universe, and a sense of bonding with party members due to the fully voice-acted NPCs. The second improved in almost everyway and is still considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and finally the third brought a stellar conclusion to the series. Writing for Game Informer, Andrew Reiner proclaimed that BioWare had created one of the most “intricately crafted” stories in the history of video gaming. EA and BioWare could have left behind a lasting legacy, but instead left Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem.
Mass Effect: Andromeda took place in a separate universe than the original trilogy with all new characters and was to focus on exploration, much like the first game did. Think of No Man’s Sky’s exploration with Mass Effect’s superb story-telling. However, EA forced the Frostbite engine down their throat, and development hell for 5 years followed. On release the game was loaded with bugs, poor animations, uneven writing, uninteresting quests, and lost what made Mass Effect special. The game scored a 70 on Metacritic, a huge flop compared to the previous titles.
3. Blizzard-Activision Stands Behind China
In October 2019, Blizzard-Activision punished Blitzchung, a Hong Kongese professional Hearthstone player for voicing his support of the Hong Kong protests. Additionally, a Weibo social media post from Blizzard publicly condemned Blitzchung’s action as against China’s national dignity. Blitzchung was initially banned for 1 year and lost his prize money while both shout casters at the event were fired.
The backlash was instant, with #BoycottBlizzard trending worldwide and notable participation of former World of Warcraft team lead Mark Kern. Later United States senators from across the aisle, including Marco Rubio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez co-signed a letter to Blizzard requesting a full reversal of the ban. The letter went on to state its decision “could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms”. On the flip side companies such as Epic Games stated they “support everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights, we wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics,” This controversy tainted Blizzards brand image forever, it is the first thing that jumps to my head when I think of Blizzard-Activision.
2. Wii U
The year is 2007, the Nintendo stock is at its all time high of $78.41 with the original Wii is selling like hotcakes. By the end of the generation the Wii had sold over 100M units making it the most sold Nintendo home console. So why did the Wii U fall flat on its face? Selling only 13M units in its short lifetime.
The key to understanding the Wii U’s failure was its horrific marketing. It all starts with the reveal at E3 2011, Reggie came on stage to announce the new system, but all he got across was the Wii U was a new controller for the Wii. He somehow glossed over the fact that it going to be a new console. After he showed off the controller, he put up a video with someone playing Mario on their TV with a wii-mote, and in the frame you can see a small console which looked exactly like the Wii on the table. Someone switches the channel and the gamer switches to the Wii U tablet; it was almost like they were marketing the console as if it was an accessory for the Wii. They committed the worst sin, confusing your core, casual consumers.
On release the console lacked games, 3rd party developer didn’t want to develop for it, and the first party games were lacklustre. They tried to emulate the success of the Wii, and to a fault.
1. Xbox One Reveal and Kinect
As this generation winds to an end, let us look back and pinpoint the exact moment that Sony cemented their domination this generation. It all started with the abysmal reveal of the Xbox One, a month before E3 2013. This is hands down, the greatest video game failure of the decade and led to the Xbox one flopping.
Don Mattrick started the presentation talking about all types of media that are consumed in the living room, glossing over games all-together. That was the theme of the rest of the presentation, they showed off Kinect’s fancy “Xbox On” feature, Kinect gestures, movies, TV, and music, it’s like they completely forgot who their audience was. If you want a quick overview of how disastrous the presentation was check out Vinesauce’s “Xbox one reveal fail” video for a montage.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, it didn’t end there. Microsoft have confirmed gamers worst fear. All games, including those purchased at retail would be locked to the user’s xbox live account. This would mean that gamers technically did not own the games they paid for, they couldn’t trade or sell them once they were done playing a game. Additionally, each console would need to “check-in” with Microsoft servers every 24-hours to ensure they owned the licence to the games the console was playing. This meant you were shutout to your games if you didn’t have an internet connect, what a dystopian picture.
The final nail in the coffin was Sony’s response to Microsoft’s DRM system. A simple 21-second video was uploaded to the playstation youtube channel demonstrating how to share games on the PS4. Simply handing the game to a friend, something that would not be possible on the Xbox One. Let’s hope they don’t shit the bed next generation.