10 Games That Launched Broken

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Rushed development has caused some of the most disastrous game launches in the industry! For this list we're looking at 10 games that were essentially released before they were finished. Our list includes “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” (2011), “Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5” (2015), “Assassin's Creed Unity” (2014), “Fallout 76” (2018) and more!
Script written by Caitlin Johnson

10 Games that Launched Broken

Welcome to MojoPlays! Today, we’re looking at 10 games that launched broken. Did you want your money back?

“Aliens: Colonial Marines” (2013)

From the beginning, it seemed like Gearbox wasn’t particularly interested in making the “Alien” video game they’d agreed to make with Sega. Throughout Colonial Marines’ long and difficult development, Gearbox wasted time in pre-production and ended up outsourcing to other studios, primarily TimeGate Studios, so that they could focus on “Borderlands” instead. Though Gearbox stuck its name on the box, when fans realized the game was a shadow of the demo that had been shown off, they were quick to try and pass off the blame. It looked awful, played awful, and should probably never have been released at all. Gearbox even had to fight off a lawsuit from disgruntled players.

“Halo: The Master Chief Collection” (2014)

An anthology of every “Halo” game up to “Halo 4” sounds like a great idea on paper, and if you just want to dive in and breeze through all those campaigns, you may not have noticed this collection’s issues. But “Halo” has always really been about the multiplayer, and unfortunately, “The Master Chief Collection’s” online component was completely broken when the game was new. Nothing in the multiplayer worked properly; you couldn’t join a match, make a party, and if you actually did manage to jump into a game, you’d struggle to play at all through the overwhelming technical issues.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” (2011)

For a long time, Bethesda Game Studios’ glitch-ridden releases were still beloved by their players. One game that’s always been widely acclaimed despite its bugs is “Skyrim”, but that doesn’t mean the bugs are easy to ignore or forgivable. One of the biggest problems “Skyrim” had at launch was with the PS3 version, which contained a game-breaking glitch that caused your game save file to continually increase in size. The larger the save got, the worse the lag got, and the more susceptible to crashes files were. In the decade since its release, it’s been ported a dozen times, but many of the worst bugs persist. Even “Skyrim’s” enormous modding community can’t fix it completely.

“Battlefield 4” (2013)

Unlike “Halo”, both the single-player and multiplayer of “Battlefield 4” poorly functioned at launch. Despite the game having a beta designed to pick up these issues before the game’s release, the situation was dire for months afterward. DICE’s game developers had to put everything on hold to try and get the game to function properly. Some of the issues included glaring problems with the netcode, meaning you were rarely seeing what other players in the same match were, and lots of out-of-bounds problems. Legal action was even taken against EA by shareholders. By all accounts though, the game was still pretty fun.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5” (2015)

One of the greediest cash-grabs in video games to date, “Pro Skater 5” was a lazy attempt to cling onto the franchise without caring about the quality of the finished product. But unlike other broken games, “Pro Skater 5” was broken by design, with Activision choosing to release the game before most of it was even complete. Instead, most of the promised content came in a Day One patch, and it definitely wasn’t worth the time to install it. The level design was a nightmare, with stages looking more like an early build that should never have seen the light of day, and of course, it was full of glitches to boot.

“Assassin’s Creed Unity” (2014)

A year after the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, Ubisoft was finally able to release a next-gen “Assassin’s Creed” – but “Unity” was anything but. Though it had a decent story and chose the French Revolution as the next exciting setting, it was plagued with technical issues. Though the most notorious bug the game produced was, of course, the no faces glitch, “Unity’s” problems ran far deeper. The face problem was quickly fixed, but it took a lot longer to stabilize the game’s incredibly poor frame rate, which made busy parts of the game totally unplayable. Even years later you still saw frequent dips below 30 FPS, and it takes the hardware of the Xbox Series X to bump it to 60.

“Ashes Cricket 2013” (2013)

Once in a generation, a game will release that’s so terrible the developers have no choice but to remove it from sale. That was the fate of “Ashes Cricket 2013”, which was so broken it could barely be considered a game at all. This was despite a delay of almost six months so that it could be properly polished. And if this was the game after it was delayed, we’d hate to see what it looked like during its original release window. With abysmal textures and graphics, not to mention a complete lack of functionality, the game was recalled by 505, and everybody who bought it was given a refund.

“SimCity” (2013)

Did you buy “SimCity” in 2013 hoping to play it at launch? Well, that’s too bad! Maxis and EA came to the baffling decision that “SimCity” was going to be always online, which already left out players with unstable or poor internet connections. But they couldn’t even get that right, completely underestimating the volume of players and how much strain this would put on Maxis’s servers. The result was that for an entire week after launch, you couldn’t play “SimCity” at all because the servers just couldn’t handle it. Perhaps as punishment, the studio responsible, Maxis Emeryville, was shuttered by EA two years later.

“Fallout 76” (2018)

Sixteen times the detail? More like sixteen times the bugs. Bethesda games have always been known for their glitches, but “Fallout 76” was a special case; unlike every other Bethesda RPG, this MMO is always online, meaning modders couldn’t clean up Todd Howard’s mess this time. On top of the rampant bugs, frame rate drops, and server issues, it was incredibly poorly designed, containing no human NPCs and an incredibly tedious loot system. But “Fallout 76’s” problems spread into the real world too, with frustrated players seeking technical support accidentally doxing themselves on Bethesda’s forums, and collector’s edition power armor helmets harboring dangerous levels of mold. The game was eventually made mostly playable, but plenty of people still haven’t forgiven the company.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

“Diablo III” (2012)

It Took Weeks For the Server Issues Stopping Players From Logging in to Get Fixed.

“Batman: Arkham Knight” (2015)

It Ran Great on Consoles, But the Glitchy PC Version Has Never Been Properly Patched.

“WWE 2K20” (2019)

Because You Can’t Even Navigate the Menus Without the Game Crashing.

“Cyberpunk 2077” (2020)

After years of development and three delays, mismanagement at the top of CD Projekt Red meant “Cyberpunk 2077” – advertised as the next greatest game of all time – had an absolute disaster of a launch. Despite the final delay purportedly being to optimize the game for last-gen hardware, on the base PS4 and Xbox One S, “Cyberpunk” was totally unplayable. Even on next-gen consoles and high-end PCs, you couldn’t escape the bugs and glitches, some of them funny but some completely game-breaking. By the end of 2020, all players were entitled to full refunds, no questions asked, and the game was removed from PS Store. Lawsuits were brought against CDPR by its investors after share prices crashed, and the company is under investigation by Poland’s consumer protection office.