Biggest unfulfilled promises in gaming

This whole new-President thing got us thinking about gaming promises that were made by large companies that have gone tragically unfulfilled. From small game features to hefty hardware claims, these are the promises that never came to fruition.

The Phantom

Above: “May we interest you in crap?”

A brand-new subscription based console enabling you to download current and future PC games with a standard monthly fee. Would have utilized a direct-download service. Think Steam but for a standalone console.

Announced in 2002 and shown as a prototype at E3 2004, Infinium Labs (now Phantom Entertainment) kept pushing back Phantom’s release (or another way to put it - Phantom kept missing Infinium’s proposed release date deadlines). Presumably, Infinium couldn’t finalize the downloading service they were building, couldn’t lock down the licensed games to be sold and couldn’t find any retailers in which to do business.

Above: Guess what a better idea is

In 2006 - mere months before the Phantom project was canceled - the Securities and Exchanges Commission accused Phantom founder and CEO Timothy Roberts of defrauding investors out of cash for his benefit. He settled with the SEC in civil court. The only thing useful to come out of this whole mess was thePhantom Lapboard - a keyboard/mouse combo peripheral that rests on your obese lap as you play - which was purchased by Alienware and released in 2007.

But hey, at least we still have GameTap and Steam.

PlayStation 2 Hard Disk Drive and Network Adapter

Above: Needed more planning

Impressive first and third-party online-enabled titles. Total living room experience including games, movies and music. And well… a promise of a new online/hard drive enabled future that didn’t symbolize Sony’s complete ineptness at online gaming.

In hindsight, everything. While the HDD enabled reduced load times and memory card backup, only 13 North American games either made extensive use of or required the drive (either for online play or for large data files). On one hand, the HDD worked (and if you played Final Fantasy XI, you know it did). However, the lack of support was apparent and Sony passive-aggressively forgot about the HDD when the new slimline PS2 - released in 2004 - failed to be compatible with the drive.

Above: Hope FFXI was worth it for the several of you out there

On the online side, Sony didn’t have one central hub to go online and jump in and out of gameplay with, unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Live program. Each publisher needed its own servers, making it difficult for a number of smaller companies to include online play. While many sports games and the SOCOM series attracted large amounts of players, online play wasn’t really a selling point for most games on PS2.

Both disastrous forays into online play eventually led to the PS3’s admittedly better setup, yet still not as simple as Microsoft’s “got-it-right-the-first-time” Live.