Top 10 Worst Game Launches With Happy Endings

Tags: #Cyberpunk2077 ,   #GranTurismo ,   #FinalFantasyXIV ,   #Diablo ,   #Gaming

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-09-21 15:43:19

Unfortunately, video game launch failures are nothing unusual now. There are many reasons why they happen, but it's mostly connected to the strict release schedule. Even though some developers work more than 100 hours weekly, more is needed to release a game that delivers what was promised. Of course, we can understand when new software has a few bugs or even requires a couple of days to sort its online servers. However, it's a different story when it's an unoptimized, buggy mess lacking features. While hundreds of these titles exist, only some performed a miracle and recovered. 

10. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Microsoft hyped the Master Chief Collection, but its release was catastrophic
Release year: 2014
What was wrong: Unplayable online mode
Affected systems: Xbox One
Contemporary rating: 8/10
Game info

We love having all Xbox/Xbox 360 Halo games in one package, especially with the improvements made. The developers did a fantastic job, especially when updating the first two Halos, and the single-player was perfectly fine. However, the multiplayer component was beyond broken, so it couldn't get any worse.

While the collection had a massive 20 GB day-one update, that didn't help with online performance. As the servers could not handle millions of players, you would wait for hours to play a single match! Luckily, 343 Industries solved the issues eventually after more than a couple of patches. Moreover, all problems were gone, and the players got additional free content. No wonder this is one of the best games for the Xbox Series consoles.

9. Gran Turismo Sport

A look at how much Gran Turismo Sport improved its single-player component
Release year: 2017
What was wrong: Barebones single player, lack of content
Affected systems: PS4
Contemporary rating: 7/10
Game info

PlayStation 4 got a single Gran Turismo game, and despite delays, it had a rough start. While not a buggy mess, it shockingly lacked content. Although we had 1200 cars in Gran Turismo 6, there were fewer than 200 in Sport! Also, we had only six real-life racing tracks, with 19 in total. Additionally, Polyphony Digital threw out a traditional campaign, so you could only do license tests and single races in single-player. The multiplayer was also very poor, providing few racing opportunities.

Nevertheless, the developers put their foot to the floor, releasing tons of free content every month for more than a couple of years. By now, we have loads of new cars, courses, and even a single-player career. Multiplayer got better with the official FIA championships, transforming a game into an e-sport. Polyphony added so much other stuff, including hundreds of backgrounds to the brilliant Photo Mode, and implemented rain effects.

8. Diablo III (PC version)

The Auction House was a horrible idea
Release year: 2012
What was wrong: Gamers were unable to play due to server errors
Affected systems: PC
Contemporary rating: 9/10
Game info

Blizzard is no stranger to problematic launches, but the Diablo III fiasco is the first thing that comes to everyone's mind. While the game sold 3.5 million copies on the launch date, the company wasn't prepared for it. You see, Diablo III requires you to be online, even if you're playing in a single-player mode. This meant that everyone had to join the servers, which could not handle the situation.

Many players got stuck on the loading screens but were still luckier than those facing crashes. In the worst case, you couldn't even log into your account! Blizzard took down servers many times to fix the issues before eventually figuring things out. Oh, and we shouldn't forget the auction house, which promoted the pay-to-win concept. After considerable pressure, the company decided to phase it out, making everyone happy.

7. DriveClub

Luckily, the gorgeous Driveclub is playable on PS 5
Release year: 2014
What was wrong: Awful online servers, lack of content
Affected systems: PS4
Contemporary rating: 8/10
Game info

The DriveClub is still one of the best PlayStation 4 exclusives, but its early days were horrific. Even though it was supposed to release during the console's launch window, it came almost a year late! Despite delays, the multiplayer component wasn't ready, so it was useless for the first few weeks. Unfortunately, the single-player wasn't doing much better. The trouble was with the content since the number of cars and tracks was seriously lacking.

Fortunately, the developers kept their heads low, and in a couple of months, all the online performance issues were gone. With loads of very affordable DLCs, the number of cars doubled, while we also got free tracks and vehicles. Eventually, we received a patch that added weather conditions, which still looks stunning. Even though the servers shut down in 2020, you still need this unique racer. Unfortunately, as the game is delisted, you can't buy DLCs anymore. Well, that's the era of digital gaming for you!

6. Cyberpunk 2077

Patch 1.2 at least made the game playable on PS4 Pro
Release year: 2020
What was wrong: Tons of bugs, awful optimization, missing features
Affected systems: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Contemporary rating: 8/10
Game info

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the worst recent tech disasters, despite being delayed several times. When it propelled on September 17, 2020, you knew something was very wrong. Despite a massive day one patch, the title still had hundreds of bugs, some seriously impacting gameplay. However, saving was the worst offender, as the file could have been easily corrupted! Unfortunately, there were many other issues, but the performance got everyone talking. While the PC version is playable on decent gaming hardware, the console edition was a different story.

The basic PS4 and Xbox One versions suffered from frame rates that barely hit 20, and even Xbox One X and PS4 Pro could have been better. Since then, the company has been hard at work, as they've released tons of patches to improve performance and stability. Furthermore, with Phantom Liberty expansion, and additional features, the game finally became what it should have been.

5. No Man's Sky

Who would have thought that No Man's Sky will live long enough to get PS5 and Xbox Series version?
Release year: 2016
What was wrong: Lacking promised features, online performance
Affected systems: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Contemporary rating: 9/10
Game info

No Man's Sky looked like a dream to anyone wanting to explore space. The procedurally generated content meant 18 quintillion planets to visit, and that's a scary number! However, players soon discovered that the game feels so empty, with little to do. Also, the planets all looked similar, while the online component wasn't ready. This led to some pretty extreme stuff, including death threats sent to developers.

The situation got much better after the first two significant updates, allowing players to have more than one spaceship and build bases. However, the key was the Atlas Rises expansion that added a trading system, more planet types, and even massively improved the story mode. By now, it's one of the best-received MMOs with a bright feature and lots more content to come!

4. The Division

Survival was a turning point for The Division
Release year: 2016
What was wrong: Massive performance issues, bugs, graphical downgrade
Affected systems: PC
Contemporary rating: 7/10
Game info

When Ubisoft introduced The Division, it immediately caught everyone's attention with its gorgeous graphics. However, once it finally launched, gamers were both angry and disappointed! The main problem was the gameplay riddled with bugs, boring missions, and lifeless environments. While many decided to abandon it, those with the patience were rewarded!

The improvements started with exciting Survival expansion as you had to fight enemies, cold, hunger, thirst, and diseases. The new modes kept coming, the old ones got better, while the map size also grew. The Division was a story with a fairytale ending, as it sold more than 10 million copies and earned a worthy sequel. However, it also made many people hate Ubisoft.

3. Street Fighter V

Here's the whole history of Street Fighter V!
Release year: 2016
What was wrong: Appaling lack of content, unregulated online play
Affected systems: PC, PS4
Contemporary rating: 9/10
Game info

Gran Turismo Sport and Driveclub seriously lacked content on their release dates. Still, next to Street Fighter V, they looked feature-rich! With only 16 fighters available, the game was far behind all of its rivals, but the lack of modes was even worse. In the offline play, the story mode consisted of two to three single-round fights against incapable AI. Online was tragic, as the servers barely functioned. Also, anyone could rage quit the match without being punished. Finally, the bugs were everywhere, which is rare in fighting games.

Despite the awful reviews, Capcom kept investing time and money, adding new content through tons of free updates and paid DLCs. The servers also got into the top shape while adding modes. Even the gameplay improved with better balance and new techniques available to all the characters. It took a couple of years, but Street Fighter V is now one of the best fighting games you can find. Just make sure to get the latest version with all the updates in one package.

2. Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight looks and plays great now!
Release year: 2015
What was wrong: Awful optimization, tons of bugs
Affected systems: PC
Contemporary rating: 8/10
Game info

The launch of the last Batman Arkham game on PC couldn't be any worse! Everything went wrong, so the game was poorly optimized, had many bugs, and sometimes didn't work! The whole thing was so embarrassing that Warner Bros. Interactive decided to pull the plug and stop selling the game. Only six months later, the title was offered again, already pre-patched to solve many issues.

The PC version got many additional graphical settings and was no longer locked to 30 frames per second. The performance improved significantly, and most of the bugs were eradicated. As an apology, gamers also got free DLC that included everything except console-exclusive content. With a few additional tweaks, the game was totally fixed and is now one of the best Batman games ever.

1. Final Fantasy XIV

Just some of the reasons why Final Fantasy XIV is such a success
Release year: 2010
What was wrong: Pretty much everything 
Affected systems: PC
Contemporary rating: 8/10
Game info

So far, we've seen that some developers took drastic measures to (successfully) improve their games, resorting to massive patches or even suspending sales. However, that pales compared to what Square Enix did with Final Fantasy XIV. Released in 2010, this MMORPG was a massive disappointment, offering awful performance and a confusing interface. However, when no patches could save the game, the company decided to build it from the ground up!

So in 2012, Final Fantasy XIV was reborn as a completely new experience, often dubbed Version 2.0. This was a radical change, as the graphics engine was completely new, with an improved interface, gameplay, and even story elements. A decade after the launch, the game had over 20 million players and four successful expansion packs. With a version for PlayStation 5, Final Fantasy XIV will be online for a long time!

When the developers and publishers are willing to accept their mistakes, the gamers are ready to give them a second chance. All these titles we've discussed are very enjoyable now, with a few ranking among the best games ever. We can only hope that everything mentioned on our top ten list will become a thing of the past.

What is your favorite game that has successfully recovered after a tragic launch? Do these launch disasters influence your decision on future preorders? We'd love to hear your opinion!  

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Mike Garden Says:

DriveClub never fully recovered - while the game was eventually fixed, it was too late.

August 10 at 10:01:05 AM

Gods Says:

Cyberpunk should be very playable by now, but I'm still waiting to upgrade my PC.

August 02 at 08:34:02 AM

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