The video game industry is a wild ride that nobody can predict. As such, it’s full of failures that might surprise even the keenest of analysts. Brilliant companies come up with bad ideas, and good ideas sometimes prove unsuccessful. It’s almost fun to watch when it isn’t tragic. Here are six examples of some of the biggest failures in video game history.
Imagine a device that makes phone calls and also plays games in full color. Okay, that is not exactly difficult in 2019, when we have so many smartphones, but there was a time where this was a pretty novel concept. Now imagine that device is shaped like a plastic taco. You have the Nokia N-Gage, which was an unmitigated disaster. It’s a shame, too, because I have one and nobody thinks I’m cool because of it. (Even though the handheld had a pretty decent The Elder Scrolls game, if you can just ignore the terrible draw distances.)
Final Fantasy XIV
One of the most common stories surrounding Final Fantasy XIV is about how a man who goes by the name Yoshi P saved it. This is a perfectly valid story, because the original launch was a clunky mess. It had a horrid job system and not much going for it. After the pretty rich and notoriously difficult Final Fantasy XI , this game felt underwhelming in every way. Eventually, Square Enix ended that version of the game by literally destroying the world via a cataclysm in the game’s narrative and shutting down the servers. Then, the game came back with a continuation of the story, new job systems, and an overall more intuitive experience.
Virtual Reality was a hard sell for people this decade, so you can only imagine how the technology was unlikely to woo people in the 1990s. Still, Nintendo tried. The result was a device that gave you both headaches from the rudimentary VR and a neck ache from the weird structure that propped up the headset. It did, however, have a pretty cool Wario game, and I recommend you at least check it out for novelty’s sake.
Duke Nukem Forever
There aren’t very many good things you can say about Duke Nukem Forever . The voice actor, Jon St. John, was able to bring a little bit more life to the character than he was in previous entries in the franchise, I suppose, but that’s about all. It could be a result of the game’s legendary stay in development hell or archaic design choices and rudimentary AI. It is also possible that the franchise is just better off a memory, because even remakes of the original games don’t really hold up.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Surprise! The game that is known for having almost a million copies buried in a landfill made this list! I worried that it might come off as cliché if I included it, but really, it is just so astonishingly bad that the list wouldn’t be complete without it.
Now, games based on movies have about as successful a track record as movies based on games, but most of these failures at least had the good sense to have some action in them! This game is based on a movie where a boy befriends an alien. That background, combined with rushed development, means the game features an alien who does basically nothing the entire time. Boring!
The expectation was that this device, which was a bit like a Wii U predecessor, would perform extremely well. In fact, it was even considered to be pretty decent by critics. Like many accessories and games for the Nintendo Wii, the UDraw GameTablet was a commercial failure. It only ever received 11 compatible games, and most of those were shovelware.