Top 10 Video Game Launch Failures That Serve As Lesson For Developers

Tags: #Cyberpunk2077 ,   #LaunchDisaster ,   #Glitches ,   #Fallout76 ,   #NoMansSky

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2022-09-22 18:00:06

Not every game enjoys a triumphant start. However, if the advertising campaign is successful, the first week or so of sales is the best. There are opposite examples too, where a bad start was followed by better sales as the game became popular. Yet, there are examples of a horrible starting period that doesn't get any better. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways for things to go south in a video game launch. This includes server problems, bugs, technical issues, or everything combined. Thus, we are about to show you examples of the worst gaming launches of all time.

10. Anthem

A long-awaited disaster

Over the years, Bioware studio has earned the reputation of reliable game makers constantly producing high-level products. Let's just mention the Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, which gave us some of the best gaming moments. Therefore, the Anthem expectations were very high. Unfortunately, the game's development was very troubled, leading to a disastrous launch. 

Despite a strong advertisement campaign, Anthem received lukewarm reviews. Although this game wasn't as disastrous as some other entries in this list, it was still enough to cause commercial failure. Nowadays, there are rumors that Bioware will try to renew Anthem. Yet, we're not sure how many players are willing to give it another chance.

9. Assassin's Creed Unity

Unintentional nightmare fuel

The Assassin's Creed franchise was one of the most consistent gaming series, with AC 2 and Black Flag particularly popular. Nevertheless, the rest of the games were critically acclaimed and sold well. That was until Assassin's Creed Unity arrived and unintentionally put horror elements in the franchise. The game became infamous very quickly, thanks to the horrific graphic bugs. 

Hence, the Unity characters looked like David Lynch's nightmare, just the tip of the buggy iceberg. There were also framerate problems, random teleportation, glitching through objects, and more. Ultimately, this game was the source of all Ubisoft memes. It was so technically abysmal that Ubisoft had to publicly apologize and give away free games to calm down angry players.

8. Cyberpunk 2077

We hope they'll fix it until the titular year

Traumas from the long-awaited launch of Cyberpunk 2077 are still fresh, yet enough time has passed for some conclusions. The whole launch process was piling up one controversy over another. The initial reviews of the game were encouraging only because the critics were limited to high-end machines. Unfortunately, the last-gen version of CP77 was a disaster, to say the least. 

Cyberpunk 2077 PS4 and Xbox One was an unplayable mess, riddled with graphic bugs and substantial technical issues. Even the high-end version of the game suffered from game-breaking bugs, such as a broken save system. CD Projekt Red offered refunds and had to issue numerous apologies for all this. As a result, Cyberpunk 2077 damaged the reputation of a once-respected gaming studio. We still hope that this tech disaster will be fixed sometime in the future.

7. Fallout 76

The nuclear disaster of a launch

This is another example of a game that ruined the reputation of a gaming studio. This time it's Bethesda, known for Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. After the relatively successful Elder Scrolls Online, the company transferred the other prosperous franchise into online multiplayer. In theory, Fallout 76 was a great idea, but the launch was way less than desirable. 

The plague of Fallout 76 was the lack of initial content and horrible technical issues. Consequently, the game has received horrifying critics, and the player base declined in thousands. The most popular topic about Fallout 76 was the examples of bugs and glitches. Thankfully, Bethesda tried hard to improve this initial disaster by fixing bugs and adding new stuff every once in a while. It's still far from the best Bethesda has to offer, but it's way better than it was on launch.

6. Daikatana

The first overhyped failure of a game

Although Daikatana arrived more than 20 years ago, it's still a major gaming failure. Furthermore, we don't think developers will ever have a better cautionary tale. The lesson is simple: Everyone can make a mistake, and if it's big enough, they can make it only once. The mind behind this blunder was John Romero, at that time the most prolific FPS developer in the world. If you don't recognize his name, let's just mention Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein 3D. 

So what went wrong with Daikatana? First of all, there was an insane amount of conflict inside the Ion Storm studio. Consequently, that caused the four-year delay between the concept and the finished game. When it finally arrived, Daikatana looked like it was made in the mid-90s. The advertising campaign was also very condescending, adding salt to the injury. In the end, this title became a career-ruining disaster. 

5. Code Hero

A futile attempt to make coding fun

The story about Code Hero began in 2012. The developer presented it on Kickstarter, promising they would introduce coding to gamers in a fun and interactive way. Through interactive environments and non-traditional methods of learning, Code Hero was supposed to be a comfortable introduction to programming. 

The Code Hero project successfully gathered the needed $170.000. Yet, that's where problems began as the creators of Code Hero didn't bother to finish coding their own game. To make things worse, the lead organizer quit the project in 2014 and left the developing team without guidance. Quite ironic, the lack of coding ruined the Code Hero.

4. No Man's Sky

A legendary failure and even more legendary comeback

No Man's Sky wasn't the biggest launch disaster on this list, but it failed big time to fulfill the expectations. The main culprit for the No Man's Sky overhype was the head of Hello Games, Sean Murray. He seemingly over-exaggerated the title's features upon release. Because of that, players expected a way more ambitious game. 

To put it mildly, the launch didn't go as planned. Players felt deceived by the game developers, and many of them issued refunds. The game itself wasn't bad, but it was miles away from what was promised. However, Hello Games put great effort into fixing and improving No Man's Sky. As a result, it's now one of the most popular ongoing multiplayer games.

3. SimCity 2013

Even EA admitted this one was dumb

The SimCity reboot was one of the biggest culprits for Electronic Arts' bad reputation. The game requiring an online connection, even in single-player, got a lot of frowns from the player base. As if that weren't enough, the launch was so horrifyingly bad that EA itself called it, quote, "dumb." Players couldn't build cities without an internet connection, which wasn't such a commodity in 2013. 

Moreover, the servers were poor, with cities too small. Later, Electronic Arts offered a free game to anyone who bought SimCity as a sign of apology. It took more than a year to make SinCity playable offline, but it was all for nothing. EA already became the greatest gaming villain.

2. Star Wars Battlefront 2

Loot boxes? In my Star Wars?

Now we're stepping into "big time screwup" territory. Star Wars Battlefront 2 had such a bad start it even included politicians. The game featured the infamous microtransaction system with loot boxes, which some countries labeled as leading minors into gambling. Another highly criticized feature was the absurd amount of time needed to unlock certain characters and items in the game. 

Electronic Arts defended that feature with the famous "pride and accomplishment" comment, which became the most downvoted post on Reddit. As a result, some countries banned loot box games altogether because of gambling elements. Yet, Battlefront 2 kept developing and eventually made a comeback. Nevertheless, this game solidified EA's status as the worst gaming company.

1. WWE 2K20

From wrestling game to Eldritch abomination simulator

The wrestling games weren't always top quality. Still, they were steadily popular and sold well thanks to the faithful player base derived from wrestling fans. Then, WWE 2K20 arrived in 2019, and everyone was appalled by it. Saying WWE 2K20's launch was a disaster would be the understatement of the century. It was regarded as one of the worst wrestling games ever and the worst game of 2019. 

 In short, everything that could go wrong seized the opportunity to do so. The most infamous part of this game was graphic glitches turning gameplay into nightmare fuel. Even if we ignore these, the lack of content, poor career mod, and loot boxes sent the game into oblivion. WWE 2K20 was so horrendous WWE decided to skip the 21 edition and give developers a year more to fix all the mistakes. What was supposed to be a crowning jewel of wrestling games turned into a raging dumpster fire. 

There are lousy video game launches, really bad launches, and those on this list. Fails so egregious and epic they serve as horror/comedy stories among game developers. Thankfully, some of these failed launches come with a happy end. Still, they emphasize the importance of testing the ground and audience before putting your product out.

Did you play any of these games? What are some of the most disappointing games you ever bought?


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