Don't get caught in the backlash
Gamers are a notoriously hard-to-please bunch, particularly the fans of long-running series. They know what they like, but they have a much clearer idea of what they hate. And when a company tries to please those fans and misses the mark, the response can be brutal. Once the hardcore start hating, its pretty hard to turn the ship around.
We scooped up a some of the most intriguing instances of fan appreciation turned sour in gaming history. And well do our best to deconstruct the reasoning behind the fan reaction in the hopes of avoiding this kind of backlash in the future.
Mega Man Avatar clothes
The 360 Avatars are Microsofts answer to Nintendos Miis, with the added bonus of the Avatars opening up a whole new avenue for selling virtual goods (yay?). For a price, your digital likeness became a doll you could dress up in shirts and costumes, each representing your favorite sports teams, films, and games. Offering up a line of clothes to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mega Man would likely be met with the same gentle appreciation as a Batman mask or Call of Duty night vision goggles, right? Hardly.
Why the hate? The trailer was met with a torrent of hateful YouTube comments that explained the anger. Mega Man fans came out of the woodwork to hurl insults at Capcom for supposedly ruining Mega Man by releasing Avatar clothes instead of a new game, as if one existing meant the other couldnt. Sure, the outfits dont look all that cool, but wait for Capcom to cancel another Mega Man game before you slash the publishers metaphorical tires.
After Burner remixed by Hatsune Miku
After Burner has fallen on hard times, despite being one of Segas earliest hits. The action-packed flight title and its sequels were hits in arcades and on the Genesis, but the series virtually disappeared outside of a simplistic, XBLA reboot in 2006. Fans might've momentarily been excited by the 2013 news that it was making a comeback, but opinions turned--sharply--once the faithful saw it was connected to imaginary J-Pop idol Hatsune Miku.
Why the hate? Sega fans have watched the companys slow decline since it shut down the Dreamcast in 2001. The Hatsune Miku games have been some of the few moneymakers for the company in the last decade, but to many western fans, the vocoder-enhanced, virtual singer is a stinging reminder of Segas changing fortunes. Putting Miku next to After Burner felt more like degrading the classic series rather than celebrating it. And if you happened to be the rare US fan of both franchises, you got to savor the fact that it would likely never come stateside. Pretty much a no-win situation for anyone outside Japan.
Left 4 Dead 2
Valve is notorious for developing games at a snails pace, so youd think its fans would celebrate a sequel that came out within a year of the first game. Following the quick success of the first Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 was announced at the following years E3. There were new characters, more zombies types, and a daytime setting. It didnt appear to be some simple expansion, so why did tens of thousands of L4D fans call for a boycott?
Why the hate? The anger mostly came from Valve users that expected the original to be supported with free DLC for some time, which a quick sequel seemed to rule out. Additionally, many fans that joined the boycott hated the new setting and characters. After the boycott began, Valve went to a lot of trouble to prove those fans wrong, including the creation of new DLC for the first game. The boycott ended before L4D2 launched, and many of those undead Benedict Arnolds were later found playing the sequel on Steam.
Bayonetta 2 announced for the Wii U
Platinum Games was the fan-favorite studio to be spun out of the closure of Okami developer Clover, and Bayonetta was arguably its most high profile title. Though it earned a cult following by being remarkably good, it wasnt a runaway hit. The chances of a Bayonetta 2 were in doubt for years until it was finally revealed to the public in late 2012 as a Wii U exclusive. That was more than some gamers could stomach.
Why the hate? Though there was likely some crossover between the Bayonetta fan base and potential Wii U buyers, a vocal collection wanted to enjoy the game on the same PS3 or 360 they had used to play the original. Instead of being happy for a comeback, fans demanded that it appear on other consoles. Sadly for them, the developers were quick to explain that Bayonetta 2 was being published by Nintendo, and that the game wouldnt even exist if Nintendo wasnt paying them to put it on Wii U. Iin other words dont expect to see it on a 360 any time soon.
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
Capcom has had a ton of success by crossing over its fighting franchises with Marvel Comics heroes, so it was inevitable that their respective rivals--Mortal Kombat and DC Comics--would join forces in response. Troubled publisher Midway unveiled the game after working for years in the Unreal 3 Engine with the hopes MKvsDC would be a mainstream hit big enough to save the company. Sadly, neither MK nor DC fans were completely sold on the crossover.
Why the hate? DC readers grumbled that characters as strong as Superman and Wonder Woman could even be hurt by the likes of Kano, but the MK faithful were even more annoyed by the changes. The Justice Leagues inclusion meant the game had to get a T-rating, which led to the trademark gore being greatly reduced. MK without gruesome decapitations just wasnt MK, but the fans welcomed the series back into their hearts once the next entry brought the series back to its bloody heyday.
Fire Pro Wrestling XBLA
You may think pro wrestling fans are subhuman morons that cant spell their own names, but wrestling gamers are some of the most discerning and hardcore around. And while it was never the flashiest, those same gamers loved Fire Pro Wrestling for its expansive roster, deep moveset, and surprisingly complex controls. The series took its time before coming to current-gen systems, so when it was revealed as a 360 exclusive, it turned heads--but for all the wrong reasons.
Why the hate? One of a slate of games meant to entice Japanese players to buy a 360, Fire Pro Wrestling starred Avatars instead of the franchise's usual character models. And while Avatar visuals dont necessarily imply shallow gameplay, it was definitely true in the case of this games casual controls. Fire Pro enthusiasts were obviously let down, and the disappointment continued, as the game got little promotion until it was unceremoniously dumped onto XBLA with no warning two years after it was revealed.
Final Fantasy XIV Online
When Microsoft landed a 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII, most fans were bemoaning that this was both the end of PlayStation 3 and Final Fantasy. But Sony was ready to strike back at 2009s E3, by revealing that the PS3 had landed Final Fantasy XIV, a brand new game thatd be exclusive to the PS3. What could go wrong?
Why the hate? Fans were on the edge of their seats as the reveal trailer showed sweeping landscapes and famous FF monsters. The trailer ended with a Final Fantasy XIV logoand then came the word Online underneath it. The entire gaming world seemed to groan unanimously; everyone had assumed XIV would be a new single player entry, not a sequel to the much less popular FFXI. And if those same people couldve known the troubles FFXIV would soon be facing--including the fact that the promised PS3 version still isnt out--theyd likely have groaned five times louder.
Shenmue returns in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Shenmue was planned to be the one of the most expansive, ambitious game series ever made, with a massive narrative arc meant to span six games in total. After two very expensive entries on the Dreamcast, the series vanished with no sign that fans would ever get a Shenmue 3. Then protagonist Ryo Hazuki made his first appearance in years--as a driver in Segas racing crossover, which left more fans upset than content.
Why the hate? Shenmue fans want to see the long-awaited end to Ryos quest for vengeance. They dont want to see him in a glorified kart racer, trying to outrun Big the Cat. Additionally, few fans saw the humor in Ryo riding a forklift, a reference to one of Shenmues more boring sections. After the racer came out, Ryo went back into obscurity, which we guess finally gave those fans what they wanted.
Wing Commander Arena
EA gets a ton of hate from gamers for its practice of buying up promising developers, only to shut them down years later. Such was the case with Origin Systems, a team known for the FMV-heavy space flight sim Wing Commander. EA basically killed the beloved series in 2000, but Wing Commander got another shot at the big time in 2007 with Wing Commander Arena. Unfortunately, fans were far from ecstatic about it.
Why the hate? Arena lived up to its name by being an isometric, multiplayer-focused space shooter, a far cry from what fans expected from the Wing Commander legacy. To most players (and critics) it felt like the series name was just pasted onto a totally unrelated game, despite EAs claims that fans of WC, as well as some former developers, were involved in the title. Following Arenas poor reception, Wing Commander returned to the vault once more.
Bad box art Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken
This whole list could be comprised of the anger of Mega Man fans, but were going to limit ourselves to one other entry. Mega Man purists were already annoyed that the boy robot was left out of the mega-crossover Marvel vs. Capcom 3, aside from some cute cameos (like an X-themed Zero costume) that Mega-fans somehow found insulting. Then came the news Mega Man would be a playable character in Street Fighter X Tekken--but devotees of the Blue Bomber still werent happy.
Why the hate? Meant as an irreverent in-joke, SFXTs Mega Man looked like the insanely inaccurate Blue Bomber seen on the US box of the original game, who resembled a fat, over-the-hill goof. For fans looking to pick a fight with Capcom, this was obviously further salt to rub in their deep, metaphorical wounds. This version of Mega Man ended up as a decent comedy character, but Capcom would likely have been better off leaving him out.
Back in Pog form
We hope this serves as a lesson to all publishers that underestimate fan expectations, or try to put in a clever wink to their companys history without much effort. Angry fans are out there, and if you give them anything less than perfection, prepare for a flame war. But did we miss any other failures to please the faithful? Let us know in the comments.