Top 10 Most Disappointing Video Game Launches Of All Time
Sometimes, naff software is just the beginning of a media sh*tstorm surrounding a given game, and these 10 entries remain the most egregious examples of all involved dropping the ball, before rolling it away and forgetting it existed in the first place.
10. Batman: Arkham Knight (PC Version)
Speaking of companies that move on after realising something is too broken to fix, Warner Bros. pilfered the living daylights out of Rocksteady’s runaway success with Arkham, first siphoning off costumes for DLC in Arkham City, and then entire levels for Arkham Knight.
The result was a game that had the best intentions (“Be the Batman”), yet due to the ‘need’ for every major platform to be serviced, a PC version was also on the cards – despite Rocksteady prioritising consoles.
As such, the PS4 and Xbox One versions ran like a dream, but the PC… well…
9. Mighty No. 9
Perhaps you can scratch off the ‘disappointing’ part of this entry, as from the initial “HOLY BALLS THAT’S AN AMAZING IDEA” to the “…Why is he starting other Kickstarter projects?” comments that framed Keiji Inafune’s ‘return’ to the Mega Man series, it went from bad to worse – and from worse to insulting.
There’s always a risk when backing a project on Kickstarter, as you’re ostensibly paying for a job before it’s done. And can you honestly say you’d try as hard in your current position, if you’d already reaped the rewards? Exactly.
Such was part of the case with Mighty No.9, as developers Comcept just didn’t know when to say no. The game raised almost four million dollars after an initial ask of $900k, and that prompted them to plan a release cycle around every console on the market.
8. Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Hands up – how can you tell when even a developer admits they shipped a game too early?
Yes, “When there’s a ‘day one patch’ they insist you download” is a good shout, but in Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s case, it was replacing the entire game on the hard drives of all Xbox One owners.
Indeed, after a month of apologies and quick-fixes, Ubisoft eventually issued a 40gb patch, effectively reinstalling the retail version of Unity with the now functional one.
Or rather, they released what we would have gotten and been far happier with, if Ubi had held off greasing their palms for a month.
7. Battlefield 4
As a launch game for both the PS4 and Xbox One, EA DICE’s malformed baby bore the brunt of the ‘next generation’ of hype – which is to say, “We’d paid hundreds for these shiny new systems, and were suitably peed off that they didn’t do much.”
But Battlefield 4’s qualms weren’t just teething issues, they were full-blown haymakers, shattering its pearly whites across the parking lot. Single player campaign progress would randomly delete itself, online matches would drop out or not connect whatsoever, entire 64 player battles would crash depending on ‘set-pieces’ in the world triggering – and the best (worst) bit?
EA even acknowledged their failings, with EA’s Andrew Wilson quite frankly admittingthat the entire debacle was “unacceptable.”
6. Mass Effect 3
One of the most infamous examples of public outcry following a game’s launch, Mass Effect 3 went down about as well as bacon-scented bath bombs on a vegan honeymoon.
People (read: everyone) were p*ssed, the result seeing thousands of fans who felt completely betrayed by the game’s finale taking to Consumerist’s online pole and voting EA the “Worst Company in the World.”
The larger issue came from the huge disparity between pre-release interviews and real-world execution, as the developers seemed to be painting a completely different version of Mass Effect 3 than we actually got.
5. Watch Dogs
You can’t talk about anything being disappointing or disastrous, and not mention Watch Dogs.
Ubisoft’s tagline for the entire project was “The next generation starts here”, and you can pretty much blame this single title for the overwhelmingly “meh” reaction to the new hardware overall. After all, people were pinning all their hopes on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed followup as some all-singing, all-wish granting concoction of pure joyous escapism, so when it fell short of even being a decent, fun game, the pitchforks came out in full.
Mostly though, this all centred around graphics, and the fact the game had changed considerably since its first unveiling at E3 2012.
Caught out by their own fans and unable to adequately clarify why this was the case other than “optimisation”, Watch Dogs went down in history as one of the most disappointing games of all time.
Remember Driveclub? If you do, those memories are probably focused around its godawful launch window, as oppose to weighty gameplay and incredible weather effects.
Alas, developers Evolution Studios attempted to roll it out in 2014, touting Driveclub as an ‘always-connected’ experience featuring communities, leaderboards – you know how it goes.
Naturally, with so much server strain across the globe, it tanked, but the strange part was Evolution simply didn’t know why – only managing to state that the game was very ambitious, and the resulting fallout “certainly wasn’t any ill-intention on behalf of the team”.
3. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5
The final straw was Sony shutting down Evolution altogether (you can draw your own conclusions as to why), but thankfully they were picked up by Codemasters in April 2016, so greener pastures should eventually be around the corner.
There was a glimmer of hope for this, you know. Back when it was first leak-announced on Twitter, when Tony Hawk was reappearing and when the idea of a ‘return to its roots’ THPS masked the fact that developers Robomodo also released the shoddy Tony Hawk’s Ride and Shred, yes, there was some hope.
Then it released, and…
Hmm, not putting your best foot forward there, Hawkster.
Sadly for all involved, THPS 5 was an absolute disaster on all fronts. Releasing in a state that felt like a conceptual alpha or a copycat developer attempting to make a Tony Hawk’s game from the early 2000s, even core gameplay didn’t have the requisite signature feel we associated with the franchise.
2. Diablo III
Diablo 3’s horrendous launch was testament to two immortal truths: 1. No server-dependent game will EVER work on its midnight launch, and 2. The internet will always make memes of even the most stressful of things, if only as a coping mechanism.
Thus, you’ve mostly seen a ton of GIFs more often than any gameplay footage for Diablo III, but such was the excitement around the return of one of gaming’s most beloved franchises, that the ‘day one blues’ set in hard.
Problem was, not only could we not get connected to Blizzard’s servers for co-op/multiplayer sessions, but the single player was locked out, too. Ostensibly fans had bought high-priced paperweights and chunks of data with no purpose, the now-infamous ‘Error 3007’ sending shivers up our collective spines to this day.
1. SimCity (2013)
Proof that even after Diablo 3’s landmark face-plant, you can always leave it up to EA to not learn a damn thing. SimCity was set to be another landmark franchise revival, until the dreaded “Always-connected universe!” buzz-phrase came in, and suddenly we were all more than a little apprehensive.
Cut to launch day and the above image was what everyone was seeing, coupled with the fact that there was no offline mode whatsoever. SimCity’s entire hook is debating precisely how to build your own custom metropolis, and it was abundantly clear that the notion of having this omnipresent multiplayer component was a hindrance, rather than an luxurious extra.
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