Top 10 Video Game Releases Gone Wrong



Top 10 Video Game Releases Gone Wrong

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Video Game Releases Gone Wrong. For this list, we'll be looking at instances where promising games launched to significant backlash, poor sales, or other severe consequences. Our countdown includes "Final Fantasy XIV" (2010), "Cyberpunk 2077" (2020), "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines" (2004), "Anthem" (2019), and more!
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

#10: “Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines” (2004)

This action RPG is based on the first entry in the massively popular tabletop series, “World of Darkness.” It's a cult classic with a sequel in development, but it definitely had the odds stacked against it. “Bloodlines” had a tumultuous development period, as developer Troika went over budget and were without a producer for over a year. After three years, Activision gave Troika a definitive deadline and the game was released with multiple technical issues. Not only that, but it launched in the same window as “Half-Life 2,” “Halo 2,” and “Metal Gear Solid 3.” Needless to say, sales were not strong and it led to the closure of the developer.

#9: “Aliens: Colonial Marines” (2013)

The “Alien” franchise offers awesome gaming potential and has received several great adaptations over the years. But “Colonial Marines” is not one of them. Hype was definitely high: a canon game with characters like Bishop and Hicks, voiced by their original actors? Yes, please. And its trailers certainly looked worthy of the name. But those would turn out to be massive misrepresentations of the final product. “Colonial Marines” launched with technical issues, abysmal enemy AI, and graphics that were far weaker than what had been shown. There was such a dip in graphical quality, in fact, that it led to a lawsuit for false advertisement.

#8: “WWE 2K20” (2019)

Many sports franchises are criticized for yearly releases that don’t change enough. But at least most of them don’t pull stuff like this. The wrestling series was previously developed by Yuke’s before it passed the reins to Visual Concepts, co-developer on the franchise since 2014. But when “2K20” was released, it became clear the team wasn't ready for the job. Critics and players alike slammed the game for its poor physics, graphics, and multitude of glitches. Hilarious videos of how broken it could be began popping up online, making the game famous for all the wrong reasons. And it caused publisher 2K to cancel the following year’s entry. Hopefully, Visual Concepts spends more time and resources on 2K22.

#7: “Final Fantasy XIV” (2010)

Even the most beloved franchises aren’t strangers to disastrous launches. Square Enix released this MMORPG entry in 2010. And while it received praise for its graphics and music as “Final Fantasy” always does, nearly everything else was met with disdain. Many pointed out that it felt unfinished with frequent bugs and glitches. A slow pace, heavy emphasis on grinding, and an overly complex interface made it unanimously one of the worst entries in the franchise. It was an absolute failure. However, with Square Enix’s vast resources, it was reborn. After appointing a new creative team, Square Enix released “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” in 2013 to much more positive reviews. And its community still thrives today.

#6: “No Man’s Sky” (2016)

Hello Games’ Sean Murray went through a cavalcade of media appearances leading up to “No Man’s Sky’s” release. And everything he said sounded incredibly alluring. The developer did a great job at selling his product, except it turned out to be too good a job. When it launched in 2016, many eager players were quick to point out the numerous promised features that were missing. Despite the immense size of its universe, “No Man’s Sky” still felt empty. However, to Hello Game’s credit, the studio has continued to support “No Man’s Sky” over the years with frequent updates that make it more fun to play each time one goes live. But its poor launch definitely hurt it in the long run.

#5: “Star Wars Battlefront II” (2017)

When it comes to “Battlefront II’s” launch, the problem isn’t with how it played, but something a bit more sinister. During beta trials, many players heavily criticized EA for its use of microtransactions and loot boxes. On average, it took around 40 hours to earn enough credits to be able to unlock one of the franchise’s famous characters. Or you could shell out some extra real-world money. Even those who spent extra on the Deluxe Edition didn’t get to play as them. And when one player complained about this on Reddit, EA’s frustrating response became the most down-voted (and Guinness World Record-earning) comment in the site’s history. After EA lost around $3 billion in stock value, the system was finally reworked.

#4: “Fallout 76” (2018)

Leading up to the release of “Fallout 76,” it seemed like Bethesda could do no wrong when it came to engaging open worlds. Unfortunately, the latest entry in the post-apocalyptic franchise launched without any NPCs but with a bunch of bugs and barely a story, making it an overall boring experience. However, it was Bethesda’s post-launch actions that made everything worse. First was the controversy surrounding its Power Armor edition, which advertised high-quality canvas bags but shipped with cheap nylon ones. Then there was “Fallout 1st,” an overpriced subscription service that launched a year later and included features that players had asked for before the game had even come out. At least Bethesda did put NPCs back in…a year and a half after launch.

#3: “Cyberpunk 2077” (2020)

Anticipation for CD Projekt Red’s follow-up to “The Witcher III” was so high, it was bound to disappoint someone. But none of us could have predicted what actually happened. Despite some missing features and bugs, the PC version of “Cyberpunk 2077” was mostly fine. But the console versions were nigh unplayable due to rampant performance issues. CD Projekt Red was aware of this; it dictated that all review outlets could only show footage provided by the developer and only sent codes for the PC version. Console players were understandably furious and Sony even delisted the game from its digital store for six months. Just one release resulted in mountains of refunds, a couple of class-action lawsuits, stock drops, and a lot of goodwill burned.

#2: “Anthem” (2019)

The behind-the-scenes problems of BioWare and EA’s “Anthem” have been well-documented. Understaffed departments, a lack of leadership, confusion over what the final product should be, EA’s insistence on using the Frostbite engine, crunch; you name it and BioWare had to deal with it. This led to a game with an identity crisis weighed down further by repetitive gameplay. Middling reviews and a failure to meet EA’s sales expectations followed. Many studios will rectify bad launches with continued support and enhancements. BioWare initially planned to do this with a significant overhaul. Sadly, those plans never came to fruition. And “Anthem” will go down as just another cautionary tale.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions:

“Halo: The Master Chief Collection” (2014)

Launched With a Plethora of Online Multiplayer Issues

“Assassin’s Creed Unity” (2014)

Some of the Funniest Bugs in Gaming History

“Titanfall 2” (2016)

Sent Out to Die Between a New “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty”

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

These days, the video game industry is too big to fail. But that wasn’t always the case. In July of 1982, Atari purchased the rights to adapt Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” However, in order to sell it at Christmas, Atari only gave designer Howard Warshaw five weeks to develop it and skipped audience testing. Poor graphics and nonsensical gameplay made it a bad game at release. And severe return rates coupled with an obscene amount of unsold cartridges made it one of the major contributing factors to the crash of 1983. This event nearly killed the home video game market. And it likely would have been permanent had Nintendo not swooped in with its first console.