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We'd like to think that every developer sets out to make the perfect game. But as budgets swell, stockholders throw tantrums, and release dates draw near, there's a whole myriad of snafus that can explode in the face of well meaning folks. Plenty of titles spit in the eye of gamers’ expectations and miscarry at retailers every year - that's not special. These games are the great white whales that tanked so hard they dragged entire companies down with them.
In a comic book scenario, the failure of these games would have driven their creators mad, forced the top-level CEOs into underground exile and turned them into white-collar supervillains, much to the amusement of us all. Sadly, we live in the real world. And these epic failz resulted in the mass shitcanning of otherwise talented game makers.
Death Rattle Game:
Shadowrun | 2007
Bearing only a tangential resemblance to both the pen-and-paper game and the early '90's RPG that it was based on, Shadowrun didn't quite make the splash, well... anyone, was hoping for.
Transforming a cult role-player into an unrecognizable first-person shooter certainly didn’t help, and a miniscule selection of maps and modes sure as hell didn’t boost review scores for FASA’s $60, multiplayer-only pile of mediocrity.
Above: Shadowrun's biggest first-person contribution? Deployable battle-trees!
Wholly owned by Microsoft, Shadowrun had a lot riding on it. As a flagship title for Xbox Live and Games for Windows, both companies would tout its PC-to-360-connectivity and commitment to online support to anyone willing to listen. But less than five months after Shadowrun’s release, FASA closed its doors, and took their dedicated servers and active forum community with it in the months to come.
Above: "I am the Bat."
Hope for Resurrection?
Microsoft may have given FASA the Ol’ Heave-Ho, but founder Jordan Wiesman's current venture, Smith & Tinker, has regained the intellectual rights to MechWarrior, Crimson Skies and - you guessed it - Shadowrun.