On the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the current console generation, we decided to take a little look back. The difference is while most people are looking at this generation's successes with reverence, examining the wonders these machines have brought us, we’re choosing instead to use this milestone as another chance to mock some of the most epic failures we’ve ever seen.
Though the reasons these things to fall on their face so incredibly hard vary from game to game, the mocking part is universally, consistently fun. It’s really their own damn fault. If the video game industry wasn’t so hell bent on pretending every single product was going to bring about the techno-singularity, we wouldn’t have license to kick them when they’re down. But they do. So we do too. Here, in no particular order, are a baker’s dozen of the worst crash-and-burners of this generation.
1. Rock Revolution
You could make a strong case for Rock Revolution being the stand out failure on this list (though the newly released Power Gig: Rise of the SixString may flame out even brighter). A rhythm action game that shamelessly aped Guitar Hero (ironic, considering GH was a copycat of Rock Revolution publisher Konami’s Japan-only release, Guitar Freaks), it was torn to pieces by critics, and despite attempting to carbon-copy one of the most successful games in recent memory, it still managed to only sell 3,000 copies in its opening month. Soon enough it was going for $5.00 at your local Best Buy. If it's any solace to the makers of Rock Revolution, the entire music game genre has recently fallen into a cataclysmic slump. So technically, their game was ahead of its time.
It could have been better if: It hadn’t been a completely shameless rip off and the drum kit hadn’t looked and played like some kind of colors-and-shapes toy meant for preschoolers.
2. APB: All Points Bulletin
APB was a big-budget project that was reportedly mismanaged by developer Realtime Worlds throughout production. After being hyped for years it finally hit store shelves in June 2010, and preorder
victims customers found they had been anxiously awaiting a jumbled mess. There were crippling bugs and install problems right from the outset.
But those problems are typical and common for a newly-released MMO. Usually, the developer then sets about releasing patch after patch and somewhere between two weeks and two months later, the game becomes playable. Not so with APB. The catastrophic mismanagement of the project (and the company) caused Realtime Worlds to fold just three months later, taking the game down with it. Even the epic failure that was Tabula Rasa lasted six times longer than that. Not only did the developer fail its paying customers, but it failed its employees by killing half a decade of their work. Firing said employees wasn’t so great either.
It could have been better if: It had been given a chance at life rather than being strangled in its crib. In fact, as we post this APB has apparently been resurrected by publisher K2 Networks. We’re hoping it’s not just a matter of time before the game gets a second death sentence.
3. Console MMOs
Over the last eight years we've been promised well over a dozen awesome-sounding console MMOs. From True Fantasy Live Online to DC Universe Online, there has been no shortage of hyped up console MMOs. But how many have ever actually made it to release? At last count: 2. Everquest and Final Fantasy XI are the only MMOs to have seen action on consoles. We're not entirely sure what it is that's holding them back, but after so many failures we consistently find it hard to get excited for upcoming games like The Agency and DC Universe which will undoubtedly see further delays. But hey – at least Final Fantasy XI has somehow stayed alive all this time. No, really – it’s still out there. We checked.
It could have been better if: True Fantasy Live Online, Star Trek Online, the Marvel MMO, Huxley, The Agency, Dust 514 hadn’t all been canned or massively delayed on consoles.
4. Alpha Protocol
Five years of development and it never even broke the NPD Top 10 in its debut month. Some reports have this spy-themed shooter/RPG (think Mass Effect 2, only terrible and with modern-day spec-ops agents instead of aliens) selling as little as 300,000 copies across two systems. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't a major game coming from a major publisher, being built by a major developer and sporting a major ad budget complete with prime time TV commercials.
Part of Alpha Protocol’s failure comes from the massive hype train that developer Obsidian was riding up to release. You can talk a big game but you've got to back it up. Some time after release, an anonymous member of the team came out in an interview and declared the project “an absolute failure of production.” Which, unfortunately, everyone who had played the game already knew.
It could have been better if: It hadn’t been a glitchy mess.