Top 10 Times Video Game Companies Broke Their Promises
VOICE OVER: Callum Janes
WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
We like to think video game companies have our best interests in mind, but these broken promises and betrayals say otherwise. For this list, we'll be looking at instances where video game companies or their representatives outright lied to us and burned a lot of goodwill in doing so. Our countdown includes a promise no microtransactions in "Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled" (2019), the ending of "Mass Effect 3" (2012), nearly everything Peter Molyneux said about the "Fable" series (2004-), Bungie's big promises about "Destiny" (2014), and more!
Script written by Johnny Reynolds
We like to think video game companies have our best interests in mind, but these broken promises and betrayals say otherwise. For this list, we’ll be looking at instances where video game companies or their representatives outright lied to us and burned a lot of goodwill in doing so. Our countdown includes a promise no microtransactions in "Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled" (2019), the ending of "Mass Effect 3" (2012), nearly everything Peter Molyneux said about the "Fable" series (2004-), Bungie's big promises about "Destiny" (2014), and more! Which broken promise left you feeling betrayed? Air your grievances in the comments below.
#10: 16 Times The Detail
“Fallout 76” (2018)
“Fallout 76” has been the subject of a lot of criticism since its launch. And even though Bethesda has supported it through updates over the years, we should’ve known things weren’t going well right from the start. At E3 2018, executive producer Todd Howard got on stage to brag about how great the game would be. Howard claimed that new technology would allow for sixteen times the detail in its world than the previous “Fallout.” But when fans actually got their hands on the game later that year, that turned out to not be remotely true. “16 times the detail” is a great buzz phrase. But if you don’t deliver, you wind up getting made fun of for years to come. Case in point.
#9: Nearly Everything Peter Molyneux Said
“Fable” Series (2004-)
Ah, Peter Molyneux. The poster child of broken promises in video games. The “Fable” games are well-regarded fantasy RPGs, though they’d probably be even more beloved if not for Molyneux’s constant overzealous pledges. He made grand promises about the ever-evolving world of the first game, such as being able to raise children or knock an acorn off a tree to watch it grow throughout the story. And even though some of his promises would make it into the second game, the follow-up came with its own broken vows, such as a lot of features involving your dog companion that never made it in. At least he isn’t involved in the revival.
#8: No Microtransactions
“Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled” (2019)
Microtransactions are understandably seen as a plague on gaming; a way for developers and publishers to squeeze some extra money out of their consumers. It was a bit of relief when news broke that the Activision-published remake of “Crash Team Racing” wouldn’t have them. However, only a month after launch, they were put in. And it rubbed pretty much everyone the wrong way. Not only did Activision lie, but it waited for the good reviews to be out before it went back on its word. Fans should know if their game includes extra purchases. And the fact that Activision hid their inclusion feels a lot dirtier than if the game had launched with them.
#7: The Whole Game
“Warcraft III: Reforged” (2020)
When a remaster of “Warcraft III” was announced at BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard made lofty promises about what it would include, many of which had to do with making the nearly 20-year-old game look much better. But as soon as the game launched, it was obvious those touches and features were oversold. Blizzard had also promised that players of the original game wouldn’t be affected, and then released a mandatory update that would implement the remaster’s new gameplay mechanics so that the two would be compatible. Fans were angered even further to find that the new game’s EULA gave Blizzard ownership over any mods or custom maps users created. It was a whole big mess.
#6: Bungie’s Big Promises
Expectations were high for the next game from the studio behind “Halo,” so it’s a shame Bungie shot itself in the foot. It promised a cinematic story that would unfold in chapters, with players piecing together a larger mystery. If you’ve played any early “Destiny,” you know that’s a bold-faced lie. All story missions amounted to “go kill these evil aliens, then go kill these other evil aliens.” It didn’t help that planets and areas seen in the original trailer weren’t present in the launch version. Or that Bungie talked a big game about seamless multiplayer and promised a title that redefined the FPS genre. The series has seen a lot of updates since, most for the better. But initially, it was a big disappointment.
#5: Paid XP
“Marvel’s Avengers” (2020)
“Marvel’s Avengers” wasn’t exactly the most well-received game of 2020. But it still managed to earn a dedicated fanbase. However, a recent decision threatened to jeopardize that loyalty. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics added the ability to purchase XP in the game’s market with real money. A “pay-to-win” model has never been positively received as it means players with extra money can skip the hard leveling up work that others can’t. But it’s even more egregious here as, prior to release, it was promised that any store items that cost real money would be cosmetic only. This change is likely because the game wasn’t earning enough revenue, but it was still seen as a betrayal to its loyals fans.
#4: Is This Supposed To Be Scary?
“Aliens: Colonial Marines” (2013)
Gearbox and Sega’s canon “Aliens” game is one of the most disappointing launches of the last decade. Initial trailers and demos, which were said to be actual gameplay by Gearbox, made the game look terrifying and awesome. But when the game released, players were shocked to find a buggy, visually downgraded mess with enemy AI that was anything but threatening. Reports claimed that Gearbox outsourced a major portion of development to other studios and rushed the game out the door. The game was such a mess that a lawsuit was filed against Gearbox and Sega for false advertisement. A trailer is a promise of what a game will be like and “Colonial Marines” definitely broke that promise.
#3: The Ending
“Mass Effect 3” (2012)
BioWare’s “Mass Effect” series is one of the most important video game franchises ever. Its emphasis on player choice and how it could shape the world made it groundbreaking. And while your decisions could have a lot of effects on certain events, the ending to the trilogy sadly wasn’t one of them. But considering how the developers spoke about it, everyone was expecting something much more unique. Before the game’s release, director Casey Hudson spoke about how it wouldn’t come down to one single decision or result in an A, B, or C ending. But that is literally what happened. Players were so disappointed that BioWare tacked on free DLC to at least give them another outcome. But the damage had already been done.
#2: So Many Things
“No Man’s Sky” (2016)
If you want to know how not to market a game, just look to Hello Games’ Sean Murray before the “No Man’s Sky” launch. With such a small team and such a unique premise, the game received a ton of attention pre-release. And Murray used every second to hype up the game. Unfortunately, the procedurally generated universe was missing a laundry list of promised features, which was compiled by disgruntled players. These included planetary physics, in-atmosphere battles, and multiplayer capabilities. At least this story has a happy ending though, as Hello Games has supported and updated the game ever since. And it’s now in a much better state than it was at launch.
#1: The Entire Launch
“Cyberpunk 2077” (2021)
Remember how we said a trailer itself is a promise? Well, the trailers for “Cyberpunk 2077” did us dirty. While no one expected the game to look as good on PS4 and Xbox One as it would on PC, the version on past-gen consoles was so broken that Sony removed it from the PlayStation store. We should’ve known given several delays and the fact that the only review copies outlets received were that of the PC version. It’s now one of the most disastrous launches in video game history and CD Projekt Red undoubtedly lost many passionate fans. Even worse, the developer forced crunch on its employees after previously promising it never would. Fans weren’t the only ones burned here and that makes it so much worse.