Top 10 Most Expensive Games That Bombed

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Top 10 Most Expensive Games That Bombed

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
All of these games deserve to be burried in the desert! For this list, we'll only be including games we can put concrete budgets to, or that showed evidence that their sales were not as high as anticipated. Our countdown includes “Daikatana” (2000), “Darksiders II” (2012), “Too Human” (2008) and more!
Transcript
Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 10 Most Expensive Games That Bombed


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 most expensive games that bombed.

For this list, we’ll only be including games we can put concrete budgets to, or that showed evidence that their sales were not as high as anticipated.

So which pricey game failed the worst in your eyes? Do you think all copies of it deserved to be buried in the desert? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

#10: “This Is Vegas” (Cancelled)

Most of the games on our list were actually finished, but not this one! “This is Vegas” was intended to be an open world game set in Las Vegas, with an apparent emphasis on night club management. While that doesn’t seem like it would’ve set the world on fire, gamers never got a chance to find out, since, the same year “This is Vegas” was due to release, the development studio’s parent company, Midway Games, filed for bankruptcy and was sold to the video game division of Warner Bros, who cancelled the game. Estimates at the total amount invested in the creation of the unmade game range between 40 and 50 million dollars. Sounds like a bad weekend in Vegas.

#9: “Daikatana” (2000)

One of the gaming industry’s most infamous disappointments, “Daikatana” was a much-hyped game, due to it being the first game developed by John Romero since leaving id Software. However, “Daikatana” was plagued by a mountain of behind-the-scenes drama, from engine changes, to staff reshuffling, to numerous delays. That meant that by the time the finished product hit, it was a massive disappointment, and many considered it outdated for the time. Its sales reflected that disappointment, since, despite having a budget of around 44 million dollars, “Daikatana” only sold around 40 thousand units its first year, instead of the projected 2.5 million.

#8: “The Secret World” (2012)

MMORPGs can be a tough sell, outside of a few titles, but “The Secret World” offers an intriguing modern-day setting with horror elements that is fairly unique in the genre. However, despite its interesting premise and the ability to re-spec your character basically whenever, “The Secret World” proved a disappointment at launch; selling only around 200 thousand copies at launch, against a 50 million dollar budget. However, a rebranding as “The Secret World Legends” and a relaunch in 2017 helped improve on that somewhat, though not to the point where we’d call it a success.

#7: “Darksiders II” (2012)

Hack and slash action RPGs were all the rage in 2012, and “Darksiders II” upped the ante by having the player control Death himself, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The game even managed to be the best-selling game of August that year. However, the problem was, that its sales, which were around 1.5 million copies by November, couldn’t match up to the 50 million dollars THQ poured into the game. THQ went bankrupt, and the property was sold to Nordic Games, which released a remaster. Nordic Games’ CEO Lars Wingefors has claimed that the original budget was too much. Hopefully he kept costs down on the new version.

#6: “Shenmue” Series (1999-)

The “Shenmue” games have been some of the most influential and beloved games of the last few decades. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been as successful as the games they’ve inspired. The first and part of the second entry in the series cost between 47 and 70 million in development and marketing, breaking records at the time. But sales for the first game were only a little over a million copies (likely due to it being on the failing Dreamcast system), and the second entry was never even sold in North America on its original system. While a Kickstarter campaign managed to get a third game developed, it wasn’t a runaway success either, at least in terms of hard copies.

#5: “Defiance” (2013)

“Defiance” is a game developed in tandem with a mildly popular Syfy original TV series, and while that may sound like an absolute gold mine of cross promotion, it unfortunately was not. The developers not only sank over 80 million dollars into MMO FPS, but they also made it free to play, almost ensuring that they’d make a loss on it, given that it wasn’t an established property. While the game continues to be supported to this day, albeit no longer on XBOX 360, its ability to turn a profit seems to have been destined for failure from the start.

#4: “Halo” MMORPG a.k.a. Titan (Cancelled)

“Halo” may be trying to rebound from a rough patch at the moment, but the franchise’s highs have made it one of gaming’s most successful. Still, even its early days were not without failures. Between 2004 and 2007, the team that would eventually go on to make “Halo Wars” worked on a “Halo” MMO, which was codenamed “Titan.” Precious little is known about it, but for how little the developers had to show for it, they seemed to have thrown a lot of money at a failed concept, with the budget clocking in at around 90 million dollars. One potential reason for its failure was the advent of more casual gaming during this period.

#3: “APB: All Points Bulletin” (2010)

Developed by Realtime Worlds, the developers of “Crackdown,” “APB: All Points Bulletin” was designed as an online open world game featuring factions of law enforcement and criminals competing in missions against each other. Its budget was 100 million dollars, making it one of the most expensive games ever made. However, all that money couldn’t save it from the numerous delays that left the finished product feeling unfinished to many reviewers. Ultimately, its exorbitant costs led Realtime Words to go into administration - the British equivalent of bankruptcy. A revamped version was released a few years later as a free to play game, but by then the damage had been done.

#2: “Too Human” (2008)

Development hell is a frequent culprit as to why so many of these costly games failed, and “Too Human”’s lasted for almost a decade! Along with its many delays and several system switches, “Too Human” also got involved in a costly lawsuit regarding its engine, which forced a recall. All told, its budget came in at somewhere between 60 and 100 million. And for a game that only managed around 700 thousand units sold, it was a definite bomb. While some have praised aspects of its lore and story, “Too Human”’s failures are too many for it to be a success.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Uru: Ages Beyond Myst” (2003)

$12 Million Couldn’t Help It Stack up to Its Predecessors

“Death Stranding” (2019)

No Exact Number, but It Definitely Didn’t Make Its Money Back

“Brutal Legend” (2009)

Between $20 and $25 Million, and Brutal Sales Figures

“Duke Nukem Forever” (2011)

$20 to $30 Million of the Developer Head’s Own Money, at Least!

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

There are a lot of failed games on this list, but none of them approaches the degree of failure of this licensed movie tie-in. Although Atari’s purchase of the rights to use “E.T.” cost around 53 to 66 million of today’s dollars, the game’s 5-week development time and numerous bugs ensured that only 1.5 of the 5 million copies Atari produced were sold. Not only were the excess copies buried, but the entire debacle is often cited as one of the major contributing factors to the video game industry crash of 1983, putting its true cost potentially in the billions of dollars. Oops.
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