Top 13 Failures of this Generation

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.

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  • larkan - October 21, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    I enjoyed Too Human. There, I said it. The PS3 updates are nothing compared to PSN itself. After it's UI update, it's unbelievably slow and choppy. Who would've thought that a 35mb update could completely ruin something that worked fine in the first place?
  • 911donkey - November 26, 2010 6:12 a.m.

    "Or if they’d just hired Valve to do it" made me laugh my ass off.
  • colbythomas - November 25, 2010 6:18 p.m.

    SHUT UP too human is a epic game i love it SO LEAVE TOO HUMAN ALONE!!!!!
  • NightCrawler_358 - November 25, 2010 1:01 p.m.

    HA friend codes. This is a cool list, but why was PS Home not in this? I'd replace that with the PS3 updates entry.
  • elpurplemonkey - November 25, 2010 8:21 a.m.

    I actually greatly enjoyed the Shadowrun demo. The mechanics were inventive and worked very well. But the game would have been much better off not using the Shadowrun name, and releasing on XBLA and PSN for half the price.
  • Nodoudt - November 25, 2010 7:45 a.m.

    Can "Chinese Knock-Off Spammers On Your Game Sites" count as fails? PLEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASE??? Although, that can easily be switched out with gold farmers. .__.
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  • secretsearcher - November 25, 2010 3:46 a.m.

    lol at the teenage mutant ninja turtles reference and the red ring of death is the reason why I got a PS3 instead of a XBOX 360
  • Fuzunga - November 25, 2010 2:34 a.m.

    I change my faceplate every so often and I've never had a problem. They're easy enough to get off and on.
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  • ryno - November 24, 2010 11:58 p.m.

    i usually ignore game updates. but i still find them annoying. PSN should stop the updates 4evr
  • shinyscizor93 - November 24, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    I found what you said about removing 360 face plates strange since mine falls off almost every time I touch the darn thing.
  • Clovin64 - November 24, 2010 9:15 p.m.

    I hate those bloody Red Rings of Death. My 360 died just a week before Assassins Creed II came out.
  • quicksilver_502 - November 24, 2010 7:48 p.m.

    alpha protocol is interesting. it obviously failed comercially and critically but i really like it. 3 and a half playthroughs worth of like. on the ohter hand, i wouldn't actually recommend a firedn buy it for anything over a fiver. borrow it or renrt, sure. but while i can look past the many error and frustrations, many couldn't, quite reasonably. a shame though. i so want a sequel.
  • EdDeRs1 - November 24, 2010 5:40 p.m.

    my xbox survived the red rings twice :)
  • OrangeJews - November 24, 2010 3:14 p.m.

    Maybe the author's hands are gorwing out of his ass if he cannot remove the godddamn 360 faceplate.
  • Aletheon - November 24, 2010 3:06 p.m.

    #5 is not a big deal. Only an xbot would complain about it. Faceplates are easy to change. Not sure why it's so difficult for you....
  • Pruman - November 24, 2010 3 p.m.

    Some things you missed: 1) Wii Music. For some Nintendo fans, it was the final nail in the company's casual coffin, and it only sold 2.5 million copies worldwide. That's good enough for most games, but compared to 37.83 million for Wii Fit and WF Plus combined, 24.01 million for Mario Kart Wii, and 26.71 million for Wii Play, Wii Music is an abject failure. (source for numbers: 2) I realize it's not a console game, but Command and Conquer 4. I can't find figures, but a Google search estimates it sold less than 200k copies, which makes sense since it basically abandoned what made C&C great in favor of ripping off every element from every RTS to come out in the past 5 years and combining it with crippling DRM. 3) On that note, why not include crippling DRM in general for PC games? SecuROM, requiring a constant Internet connection, rootkits...none of these things do anything to deter piracy, and only punish paying customers. I understand why companies use it, but the way to add value to PC gaming is by using Steam. 4) Franchise burnout. 10 Guitar Hero games in 3 years. A new Call of Duty every year. Multiple annual sports releases. Kotick said right after Activision Blizzard formed that he was going to exploit franchises, and oh boy has he, to the point where entire genres like music games have risen and fallen in this generation. Activision is the most prominent offender, but you could also go with Koei and Dynasty Warriors, or Nintendo and it's "Wii" series (I hear Wii Party isn't doing so well.) 4) This is the worst one to me, but the consolization of PC games. Modern Warfare 2 was the most prominent example, removing dedicated servers and not providing any modding tools so ActiBlizzard could sell us $15 map packs. It was clear that IW designed it for the 360 first and merely ported it to the PC. Borderlands was another egregious example: the only way to edit certain settings was to hack a TXT file. If the game wasn't so damn fun and addictive I would be more angry. 5) On the flip side, two of the worst aspects of PC gaming, drawn-out game installs and rushing a game out before it's done and then patching it later, turning early adopters into unpaid beta testers, have come to the consoles now that they're on the Internet. I bet next generation we'll have to configure video drivers and resolve device conflicts on our XBOX 720s and PS4s.
  • SonyBacker - November 24, 2010 2:54 p.m.

    I think the question is when will DC Universe Online be released, I preordered this came countless times', then when I heard that it was to be released a couple of weeks ago, I preordered it again only to find it was pushed back again, it doesn't matter how many screenshots are released it is nothing but a stalling ploy, all i can do is to keep having faith that this game will be worth the wait. worse case scenario the game is scrapped altogether due to budget constraints or the dev company going into admin. even if it is released and the game is a waste of time and money i will be on the front line taking it back and kick up a storm.
  • philipshaw - November 24, 2010 1:39 p.m.

    Great article but how can something as minimal as firmware updates be higher on the list than the RROD which still is a massive hardware problem