Gather around the smouldering Christmas tree we accidentally set on fire folks, because it’s time for this year’s Best of the Worst. 2018 was full of so much bizarre drama, it was hard to whittle it down to just ten entries. And a couple entries are actually pretty serious too, because not only was 2018 weird, it was also full of just horrible stuff happening to people inside the games industry. Hopefully, things will be better next year. Until then, here’s a recap of the most awful and dumb stuff that happened in 2018.
Fallout 76 Bag controversy
The biggest drama bomb of 2018 just might be Fallout 76 , especially everything surrounding the Power Armor edition. In the midst of bad press coming from mediocre review scores and all the discourse that comes with, people started realizing the $200 limited edition came with a cheap nylon bag instead of the advertised canvas duffle bag. Bethesda changed the bag after having production issues, without telling anyone. That led to a massive outcry, legal threats, so on and so forth. Now, Bethesda is having the real bags made anyway.
One of the more amusing drama bombs of 2018 was Blizzard announcing Diablo Immortal on stage at BlizzCon, much to the despair of everyone there who had shelled out serious cash. While Blizzard said beforehand that Diablo 4 wasn’t going to be announced, despite the fact that Blizzard has public information available that a different team is working on mobile games, the fanbase still reacted like the world was ending and that Diablo 4 has been stolen from the world. However, the outrage also led to a fascinating report from Kotaku that trouble may be brewing between Activision and Blizzard.
Friday the 13th Dies in Court
One of the more interesting stories of the year was Friday the 13th: The Game being a Kickstarter darling that, despite some technical issues and a rough start, ended up garnering a solid fanbase for a game of its size. Then, just as a console version made it to physical release glory, a legal battle over the rights to the series killed the game in its tracks. While it’s great that a writer who arguably was taken advantage of won his day in court, it’s not so great that the video game and the people working on it were caught in the crossfire.
After the NES and SNES Classic mini consoles came from Nintendo and took the world by storm, it was only a matter of time before Sony tried its hand at the idea. And what should have been an awesome product landed with a serious thud, with a host of issues that had the PlayStation community baffled. From an odd game selection to an emulator that included underperforming PAL versions of fighting games, a product that should have been appealing by default ended up being a joke.
Video game marketing has a bad reputation for being a little loosey-goosey about showing actual video game gameplay, especially during E3. So when footage from Marvel’s Spider-Man appeared to show similar details from an E3 trailer but in lower visual fidelity, the louder and more under-educated of the community took to screaming at developers. Of course, the truth had more nuance to it, but that didn’t stop a bunch of gamers from embarassing themselves by yelling about puddles.
Rockstar Games’ Work Environment
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a huge and massively successful game that took around eight years to develop. And it just so happens that 2018 has largely been the year of organization and worker support in the video games industry. These two things collided when Rockstar Games’ Dan Houser bizarrely bragged about “100-hour work weeks” in a ridiculous flull interview that presented such a thing as an awesome accomplishment. That led to tons of drama, of people calling out bad work environments in developers, and even led to Rockstar revealing it doesn’t give credit to people on staff if they leave for any reason during development. Yikes!
Riot Games’ Work Environment
Speaking of bad work environments, the lid was blown off of League of Legends developer Riot Games in an enormous investigative piece from Kotaku. The story exposed the company for having an internal “bro” culture full of sexual harassment, discrimination, and such. The company has been in full damage control mode since, making additional hires and all kinds of public statements. But more stories from ex-employees have come out too, making things worse over time. Most recently, an executive was even suspended without pay for some seriously bad behavior we won’t get into.
Metal Gear Survive Existed
In what might be the only normal game release on this list, Metal Gear Survive sure does represent a lot more than the sum of its parts. After an extremely public and nasty falling out with the beloved Hideo Kojima, Konami announced this bizarre title that is basically a dumpy survival game that controls like Metal Gear Solid V . It was critically panned, but because it’s the product of very loud and public drama, everyone paid attention to it almost involuntarily.
Total War: Rome 2 Review Bombing
Many players were surprised when, seemingly out of nowhere, the gaming community started review bombing the popular strategy game Total War: Rome II . Turns out, it was because the game sometimes spawns women generals, and nerds who dont know anything about history were distraught and angry on behalf of “historical accuracy.” Turns out that not only was the game spawning women generals at a very low rate, but it was doing so based on historical information and only doing so for specific factions. GamerGate may have gone away in name, but it survives to this day in ugly spirit.
Telltale Games Shuts Down
2018 saw multiple tragic studio closings, but none were so emblematic as the real problems in the video game industry as Telltale Games. The company known for literally changing the industry with The Walking Dead shuttered seemingly out of nowhere, right in the middle of finishing the story it was known for. As the closing happened, more and more stories came out of the very poorly-informed business decisions made by the people running the company, and all the employees were laid off without severance or health insurance. This exposed poor working conditions, poor business practices, and poor management all at the same time, and made the industry as a whole look pretty bad.