5 other disastrous video game launches from history
It's Halloween, more or less, when the undead walk the Earth, bringing with them a spate of frightening and ghoulish video games to cash in on the credulous seasonal demand for frights and scares.
But who expected that that there'd be none more frightening and ghoulish than 2K's new wrestling game WWE2K20? The game suffers from graphical bugs so severe that Sony is doling out refunds for the PlayStation 4 version. A Reddit post titled WWE 2K20 is an absolute disaster has received about 10,800 upvotes since it was posted just over a week ago. Eurogamer has compiled a list of some of the more spectacular examples.
While gamers rue and revel in the Hieronymus Bosh-like horror, let's not forget that disastrous game launches are nothing new. Here are five other video games releases that went spectacularly wrong.
Note, reader, that we've focused on issues at launch. Such is the nature of modern games, that technical issues can be patched after release, and the success or failure of such efforts in any one case would necessitate a feature-length article in itself.
It was billed as EA's answer to Destiny, but Anthem arrived to poor-to-middling reviews. Where pre-release trailers had wowed gamers and games media alike, the resulting game suffered from a shortage of enjoyable stuff to do which, for a persistent online game, is a bit of an issue.
The tedium was nowhere more apparent than the infamous Tombs mission, which forced players to work through a shopping list of collectibles only a few hours into the game's main story. Typically, such grind-heavy activities would be reserved for end-game content for die-hard players.
The game was also beset by bugs, with each patch subsequently creating new issues. Amusingly, one bug saw the level-1 weapon the player starts out with remain the most powerful in the game, thereby undermining the grind-for-loot premise that such online shooters are founded upon. More seriously, other players reported the game was literally breaking their consoles.
Assassin's Creed Unity, 2014
Arriving a year after the excellent Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, expectations were high for Assassin's Creed Unity, the first game in the blockbuster series to launch exclusively on then next-generation machines PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and one set amid a beautiful reincarnation of revolutionary-era Paris.
Alas the experience for many gamers was dogged by technical issues, including faceless, hollow-headed characters appearing during cut scenes, the player character falling through the floor, slow frame rates, and some in-game content remaining inaccessible to players.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 2014
This Xbox One anthology was meant to be a celebration of everything that was great about the Halo series, bringing all of its much-vaunted multiplayer game types and maps from previous installments under one roof.
Unfortunately it failed at one of the main things the Halo games and Xbox had so successfully pioneered: online matchmaking. Getting an online game could take an age, when it worked at all. Paul Tassi of Forbes declared that it "may very well be the worst major game release in a decade."
The baffling decision to require an always-on internet connection to play the 2013 SimCity reboot was compounded by a host of network issues that made the game more or less unplayable for many gamers.
One major issue was the apparent lack of game servers which meant gamers couldn't actually get online to play – an issue that even affected the single-player mode thanks to the always-online policy.
Other technical limitations restricted the size of cities, and limited the realism of the game's urban inhabitants, who would inexplicably swap jobs and houses to whichever were nearest and available at any given time, the idiots.
In the internet age, the ability to patch technical issues with games after release has become something of a safety blanket for games developers. Why delay a release (especially in the face of publisher pressure) when you can ship it and fix it later? But that's not to say there weren't disastrous games launches before the rise of the net.
The failure of E.T. for the Atari 2600 is now urban legend, and synonymous with the American video game crash of 1983. Developed in just five weeks to cash in on the success of a certain Steven Spielberg film, E.T. sold 1.5 million copies. That would have been fine, had Atari not manufactured 5 million, and had many gamers not returned their copies on account of the game being total bobbins.
Though dismissed as folklore by some, a 2014 excavation proved that many copies of the game had, as had long been reported, been buried in landfill in New Mexico – though not only for E.T., but other flops that ultimately contributed to Atari's demise.