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Top 10 Games That LOST the Most MONEY

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Kurt Hvorup They spent HOW MUCH? Ouch at least the games were good though, right? Oh no...Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Video Games That Lost The Most Money. Special thanks to our user “trtwatchmojo” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Most Expensive Video Game Flops

Not every game’s going to make it big, but sometimes the losses are greater than expected. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Most Expensive Video Game Flops.
For this list, we’re taking a look at works in the history of gaming which faced major commercial failure, costing their creators large amounts of money and resources in the process. To be clear, these are games that made it to store shelves - rather than being cancelled mid-production - yet ultimately weren’t worth the cost to produce.

#10: “Lair” (2007)

Even the best can fail to live up to expectations. That appears to have been the case with “Lair”, an early PlayStation 3 title created by “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron” developer Factor 5. Pedigree couldn’t save this strange blend of motion controls and dragon-mounted action, a mixture which came across to many as unwieldy and awkward. The gaming community seemed to agree, given that sales of “Lair” were reportedly far below expectations. While the exact cost of production is unclear, it may well have contributed to the 2009 shutdown of Factor 5’s North American branch.

#9: “Shenmue” (2000)

There’s not making a lot of money, and then there’s bringing an end to an entire line of products. The brainchild of Sega AM2 founder Yu Suzuki, “Shenmue” remains significant thanks to its introduction of some of the most enduring mechanics in open-world games. Yet when all was said and done, the game’s 1.2 million copies sold were insufficient in covering the development costs, estimated to be between $47 and $70 million. Sega’s losses are suggested to have been a major factor in their eventual departure from the console market, ending further work on the Dreamcast console in the process.

#8: “Defiance” (2013)

When the Syfy television network was developing the show “Defiance”, they came up with a rather interesting idea: connect the show’s events to an ongoing MMO, and have the two influence each other. To that end $70 million was put into build a full-fledged online shooter from scratch, to launch alongside its television counterpart. It was a novel idea, but was hampered by the game proving to be less-than-compelling to new players, leading to the adoption of a free-to-play model a year after launch. With a limited user base and a TV series that only lasted three seasons, “Defiance” is a clear example of clever idea that never had legs to stand on.

#7: “Messiah” (2000)

For several years, Shiny Entertainment toiled away on this third-person shooter about an angel sent to rid Earth of sin and corruption. When it finally reached store shelves in March 2000, “Messiah” was met with overwhelming indifference and disinterest from critics and general audiences alike. For many players, a unique premise wasn’t enough to distract from underwhelming shooting mechanics and a variety of glitches. Exact sales figures for “Messiah” are scarce, though it’s known that the game sold poorly enough that Shiny opted to cancel the console versions.

#6: “Pac-Man” [Atari 2600 Version] (1982)

How do you mess up a bona-fide classic of the arcade age? Well, Atari managed it somehow with the 2600 version of “Pac-Man”, a glitch-ridden mess of a game. Notorious among gamers for its embarrassing bugs and bizarre instances of slowdown, this nevertheless had Atari’s support once upon a time. Atari spent around $1.5 million just on marketing the game, and that’s before we get into the cost of developing 12 million copies which largely went unsold or were returned by incensed players. In the end, it was just another sign that Atari’s days atop the gaming industry were numbered.

#5: “Duke Nukem Forever” (2011)

We’d make a joke about it being in development forever, but honestly it’s just a very sad situation. “Duke Nukem Forever” was once an eagerly-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed 1996 shooter “Duke Nukem 3D”, but interest soon plummeted as it spent more than a decade in limbo. As it turned out, the game’s production allegedly cost tens of millions of dollars, with the total budget growing alongside delays, downsizing and a change in development team. Any hope of the final release being worth all the trouble was dashed when “Duke Nukem Forever” launched to a negative reception and lackluster sales.

#4: “Too Human” (2008)

Watching a game fail can be quite hard – seeing failure befall an apparent passion project is just devastating. Such was the case for “Too Human”, conceived by Silicon Knights as an epic Norse mythology-themed RPG for the Sony PlayStation but only fully realized on the Xbox 360 after nearly 10 years of being stuck in development hell. Years of hype and build-up, and well over $100 million in production costs, wasn’t able to overcome a mixed reception and widespread disinterest, though. Only a reported 700,000 copies of “Too Human” were sold, far below what Silicon Knights had expected and not nearly enough to make a tidy profit. Worse, “Too Human” factored into litigation with Epic Games, which would come to drive Silicon Knights out of business.

#3: “Daikatana” (2000)

As the second project undertaken by the studio Ion Storm, “Daikatana” existed in part to show the company’s creative and technical potential. However, a lengthy and tumultuous production cycle – during which publisher Eidos would spend $44 million to push the game out the door – ensured that the game’s promise would go unfulfilled. Generally, gamers found “Daikatana” to be bogged down by cliched writing, ugly environmental design, and a plethora of bizarre or broken shooting mechanics.
Needless to say the game did not earn back its budget, serving as the central catalyst for the departure of Ion Storm’s two founders.

#2: “APB: All Points Bulletin” (2010)

Like the saying goes, crime doesn’t pay. At least, that’s the impression many took away when “APB: All Points Bulletin” faced slim early sales numbers and the servers shut down just a few months after launch. This much-maligned cops-versus-criminals online game was developed with a budget of more than $100 million, with the expectation likely being that “APB” would recoup the costs upon release. Alas, the game met criticism for releasing in a bug-ridden state, with game sales suffering as a result. Though it would later return as a free-to-play game called “APB: Reloaded” the game was never quite the retail hit its creators seem to have wanted.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are our Honourable Mentions:

“Superman” (1999)

“Psychonauts” (2005)

“Darksiders II” (2012)

#1: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

If nothing else, managing to upend an entire industry and leave the future of gaming uncertain is quite the achievement. Atari spent an undisclosed amount of money, speculated to be in the millions, on the rights to make a game based on the hit film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. A smart move in theory... but then Atari rushed the lead designer and pushed the game for release in Christmas 1982, resulting in one of the most widely-despised works in the history of the medium. This game not only had a major role in the $356 million debt Atari supposedly had by year’s end, but it’s viewed as the final straw that set off the 1983 game industry crash.

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