10 most controversial game launches of all time
Hey, so believe it or not, in recent years, we’ve had some of the most controversial game launches of all time.
Not a controversial lead up, or some edgy problem with the game’s content, but just games that launch, and immediately after release, totally flare up into a massive ball of disappointment, negative headlines, and controversy.
We’ve got 10 examples, so let’s get started off with number 10, and just rip the bandaid off, and start with the obvious one.
Yes, by now you’re probably really sick of hearing everybody talk about Cyberpunk 2077.
We’ve done our fair share, but we’ve also revisited the game multiple times, and after release, it’s really become a much better game.
But when that thing initially dropped in December of 2020, it was immediately met with a lot of pushback, thanks to its undercooked release.
The game was really glitchy, and just didn’t have enough time in the oven.
Previous generation console versions were downright bad, almost barren, with low frame-rates, and no detail, and tons of glitches, and the games running on the newer consoles or the PC version didn’t fare much better.
Each version of the game, to be fair, had its own individual types of problems, and even some of the elements within the game, like the RPG elements and stuff, just left a lot to be desired.
But really it was that technical state.
It had so many technical problems to the point that Sony even took it off its online marketplace for a long time.
Thankfully, now the game is up to snuff, but at the time there was so much to it, massive headlines, a bunch of reviews, and reviewers, calling out CD Projekt Red for only giving us access to mostly the PC version, and a lot of people thought it was their way of trying to avoid some of the ire that would come later on after release, with the fact that the PlayStation and Xbox versions of the game were in a way worse technical state.
People lost some trust in CD Projekt Red after this one.
They’ve definitely finally put in the work, so we’ll give them credit for that.
Some people were immediately pissed with CD Projekt Red when the game launched.
Some people still found the game pretty all right.
Regardless, the game still went on to sell a lot of copies, but, man, that was a firestorm of a time.
Next, over at number nine, let’s talk No Man’s Sky.
This game originally released in August of 2016, and, essentially, we built it up to be the space game to end all space games.
And unfortunately, when it released, it was kind of a barren, threadbare experience.
The ideas and the technology were seemingly somewhat in place, but the concept of go anywhere explore endless randomly generated planets didn’t really come to fruition until later on.
At launch, the game was super simple, a little boring, and very much heavy on the survival game elements, but with not too much more to it.
And even discovering New planets was pretty boring because the worlds that the game generated weren’t that exciting, and generally, there just wasn’t a lot to do in this game.
Also, multiplayer, something that it seemed like we would’ve had at launch, it was basically non-existent.
Essentially, the vision for the game, the concept of the game that was really shown to us, wasn’t really anywhere near that in the final product, unfortunately.
It was really a lot of PR and marketing missteps.
The companies, both Sony and Hello Games didn’t say too much after launch, leading a lot of people to get even more angry, or just ditch the game completely, and it went on for quite some time with most people labeling Hello Games and its creators just scam artists.
Some people in different countries submitted it to their government agencies for false advertising.
It never really went anywhere, but still people were really pissed.
Thankfully, eventually, No Man’s Sky would become a really fricking awesome game.
They took all the money with those initial upfront sales and really ran with it and made something cool.
No Man’s Sky, now in 2023, is everything the original game should have been and more.
Does that justify them releasing a full price game, back in the day, that was just really undercooked, and just not as exciting as it was initially advertised as? No, but at the very least, if you still had the disk lying around, if you pop it in now, it’s a much better game.
Next, over at number eight, we have the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy Definitive Edition.
This one was a collection of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and San Andreas, packaged together with, kind of, remastered, slightly better graphics and controls, and basically it didn’t amount to much.
It was another one that was just undercooked, unloved, and just completely farted out.
By giving the game slightly better graphics they had to make decisions with the art direction that some people found really questionable.
But really the biggest thing was the technical state.
The rain in this game was so visually awkward that it made it hard to play.
It would actually hurt your eyes.
I remember us talking about this in the original Before You Buy video.
The frame rates were all over the place.
The glitches were up the wazoo, and then there was evidence of a lot of things just being completely half-assed.
Higher resolution textures just plastered right over the older resolution textures.
Some side-characters faces looking worse than they looked in the original games back in the day.
Now the fact that they couldn’t even get all of those licensed songs back in these games, there was so much, and it went on and on as people discovered more and more problems with this game.
For me, the biggest offense was just the fact that Rockstar seemingly took some of their greatest titles, and just contracted them out to a third party developer.
And apparently some of this was based off of, like, the mobile game ports of these games.
And they were just carelessly thrown together.
It’s unfortunate because I think these games are a huge part of Rockstar’s history, and they should have gotten much better treatment.
Next, over at number seven, we have Anthem.
Anthem was controversial for many reasons, but mostly, because it was the BioWare game that people didn’t really want.
From the early days of it being shown off, a lot of people were pretty skeptical, just for the fact that it was basically being built as a live service game at a time when they were all the rage, but we also had plenty of them.
People were already deep in the Division or Destiny, or just an MMO or something like that.
And with Anthem, it just never felt quite right from the beginning.
Yeah, flying around as Ironman looked kind of cool, but the world, the quests, the way it would work with multiplayer, the way the microtransactions were, everything just kind of rubbed people the wrong way, or at least left them feeling kind of skeptical, and then the game released, and yeah, it seems like everyone’s suspicions were completely confirmed.
The gameplay was really shallow, it was really grindy.
It also was changed up quite a lot right before release, leading to a lot of people getting the game and realizing it didn’t really look a lot like how it was initially shown off.
It just kind of felt like a cynical game with no real love behind it, and just kind of designed for the purpose of cashing in on the type of games that people were playing at that time, where everyone was buying into season passes, and updates, and microtransactions with skins, and stuff.
It did reach significant sales numbers, but EA did say that it failed to meet their expectations.
According to Andrew Wilson, the CEO of EA, it did not meet the 6 million copies target they set.
Apparently for EA, Anthem did not work as planned to keep players engaged and consistently playing, and I think for this one, the controversy was like, “Yeah, the game was bad.
Yeah, the game was boring.
” But for me, the most controversial thing was the fact that it really soured players’ reception of BioWare.
The old BioWare, the days of the early Mass Effect games, Knights of the Old Republic, the early Dragon Age games, it was a thing of the past, it seems.
And next, over at number six, speaking of hurting reputations, Fallout 76.
Man, people just did not like this game.
Ultimately, it was another game that was controversial, mostly, for it feeling like it was just made to cash in on the trend of people playing games endlessly, new content, season passes, microtransactions, all that.
But the biggest controversy was probably just the fact that it wasn’t the type of Fallout game that some Fallout players wanted to play.
You know, upon release, I didn’t think this thing was the worst.
I saw the potential for it, but myself and a lot of people were rubbed the wrong way with just how empty and lifeless it was.
The game made the bold choice, at first, to not have any NPCs, something that you pretty much need in a Fallout game.
No, the game was just designed to be totally inhabited by players, all interacting with each other, and that’s where the stories would be made, right? Well, nope.
It turns out, to build a Fallout game, you need NPCs, you need dialogue, you need interesting quests and lore, ’cause that’s half the fun.
The West Virginia map that they built for Fallout 76, I actually thought was really, really cool, but, unfortunately, the game had a lot of glitches and messiness to it, which, actually, was more than your average Bethesda game.
The whole thing just felt really undercooked, and released way too early.
It was just about grinding and doing boring RPG stuff, with none of the actual cool Fallout stuff behind it.
Reviews were bad, player reviews were mostly really negative, and then it had all these other little controversies around it involving the collector’s edition bag not being canvas.
It was a whole thing.
The headlines were crazy, people made mountains out of molehills with everything about this game, but the bottom line was just that they were burned by Bethesda.
They weren’t happy with the state of this thing.
According to reports, it also seemed like mismanagement led to a lot of the game’s failures upon release.
It would continue to be supported, and I’ve actually met a lot of people that really love the game to this day.
They love jumping in it and doing Fallout stuff with their friends, but this thing at launch, really harmed Bethesda’s reputation.
Moving on over to number five, speaking of games that hurt reputations, Mass Effect Andromeda.
A lot of people were hoping for this to be the return to Mass Effect, the triumphant return, if you will, and while it certainly found an audience, credit where credit’s due, some people really embrace this game, for most of us, it just didn’t quite hit.
It didn’t have, really, the same feel as the original games.
The idea, the promise of exploring a massive galaxy, just didn’t really land.
I will say the combat got a little bit more faster and chaotic and more satisfying, but ultimately it told a pretty lifeless story for us, and the exploration wasn’t as rewarding as we hoped.
It just didn’t give us the feeling of Mass Effect to the extent we were hoping for.
We didn’t wanna rehash of the original trilogy of course, but this just kind of missed the mark in a way that’s hard to explain.
But unfortunately, the biggest thing for this game, the biggest controversy was really the messy state the game launched in.
The game had a lot of glitches and bugs, and notoriously terrible looking NPC faces.
The characters faces in these games were almost lifeless in some spots or just straight up borked and weird and glitchy.
Characters either overly expressed, where their face and their lips were wiggling around, and they looked like they were smiling and frowning at the same time while talking, or their faces barely moved at all and they just had dead eyes.
BioWare did eventually update and fixed some of this, but it just meant the game was memed to hell.
And sometimes when memes spread around about a game, it hurts its reputation, and that was really the biggest controversy here.
Those Mass Effect Andromeda faces, we’ll never see the end of them.
Next, over at number four, one that people often forget about is Final Fantasy XIV.
Final Fantasy XIV, at this point, is the game that everybody loves.
If somebody out there played it, they are already out there, probably, telling someone else to play it, trust me.
But when it initially released in 2010, it, essentially, made every mistake an MMO RPG could make when it launches.
Final Fantasy XIV today, is like a completely different game compared to how it originally released.
It was panned by reviewers and players for showing some promise, but ultimately, being totally riddled with technical issues, feeling like an incomplete game, and lacking a lot of the features and content you’d expect from an MMO.
Even in the early days, people were just not happy.
But this one has a really great ending because the developers put so much work in, and essentially overhauled and relaunched the entire game.
And, like I said at the start, it’s almost a completely different game at this point, and people are still hooked to this day, and the developers are still feeding them with great content.
Now down to number three, we have Battlefield 2042.
Battlefield 2042 was probably one of our least favorite games the year it released.
The Before You Buy that we put out, straight up, we were just really disappointed.
The game was an absolute technical mess.
During that time period in games, it was like every game was being released undercooked and totally glitchy and weird, and this game had a lot of documented, wild, over-the-top glitches that sometimes broke game matches which was really, really unfortunate.
Not to mention the fact that it also just didn’t really feel like a solid Battlefield game.
They were charging full price for it, for it just being completely multiplayer with no single-player campaign or anything like that.
But also, they didn’t make up for that with, like, a ton of modes or anything like that.
It was just, kind of, a straightforward Battlefield offering, with huge maps and lots of servers, and that’s about it.
But the gunplay just felt slightly off.
It didn’t feel distinctly like Battlefield used to work, and they moved to an operator-style system, where you would pick specified characters, and then just, kind of, slightly customize them from there.
That is not Battlefield, and people were not happy about that.
The scoreboards weren’t even originally in the game when it released.
Like, there were so many weird decisions made for this one, that it was absolutely baffling, and this was disappointing, considering it was going to be the one that was just going to double down and focus on multiplayer, so you thought it would be perfected out of the gate, and it certainly wasn’t.
And it was supposed to be the one that was just gonna be focused on the fun aspect.
All those player-made, fan-created moments throughout the years, throughout Battlefield, were apparently going to be the focus of the way this game was built, and it just didn’t release very fun.
Now, DICE has put in the work to try and fix this one, but at this point, I think people are kind of over Battlefield 2042, and hopefully, the next outing fares better than this one.
Now, down to number two, we have Aliens Colonial Marines.
Oh boy, this one was just a mess of a game.
Unfortunately, something seemed to have happened during development, because the final product looked nothing like what the game was originally shown as.
What looked to be a cool, tense, cinematic, first-person shooter, celebrating some of the best moments of the Aliens franchise, with cool Colonial Marines blasting aliens across iconic locations, kind of, just, in reality, ended up to being a half-baked, clunky, cheap feeling shooter that actually, kind of, felt a generation behind.
It was glitchy, it was messy, and again, the biggest thing, the controversy, it ended up being nothing like what anyone was expecting from the marketing, the screenshots, the videos, the trailers.
This thing was just a total dud, and dead on arrival, and people, Aliens fans especially, were pissed.
This thing was panned in reviews, panned in user reviews, and it came and went in an instant, totally forgettable, but the anger and the disappointment stayed for a long time.
Thankfully, the Aliens brand has recovered.
We’ve had plenty of decent and pretty good Alien games since then, but Colonial Marines was a low blow, dude.
Now down to number one, of course, we have Star Wars Battle Front II, one of the most controversial game releases in recent memory for us here at Game Ranks, specifically, because it was kind of like the front lines for the battle against games being increasingly monetized, and microtransactions, and stuff like that.
Star Wars Battlefront II notoriously launched with loot boxes and stuff that people chalked up as, kind of, being pay-to-win.
Whereas, if you were to spend money and get more loot boxes, you would get better stuff, and get a better advantage at the multiplayer game, this competitive game.
Along with that, there was just an absolutely terrible, God-awful grind.
You had to play so much to actually be able to unlock things you wanted, like a pink Darth Vader.
This jammed everyone up, it grinded everybody’s gears.
It even hit mainstream news.
It became that much of a big deal, and the ethics were in question.
And it didn’t help that EA responded in some pretty, let’s just say, terrible ways, some ways that only, kind of, made things worse for a while.
Battlefront II had to be the big, famous, licensed Star Wars game release that had enough eyeballs, but also had the worst of the gaming industry in it, to really highlight and spotlight, and spread awareness of, the problems, the things that gamers take issue with.
Thankfully, after all this time, years later, Battlefront II is a much better game.
All that stuff is yanked out of it.
It has tons of content.
It’s a fun Star Wars shooter, but when it released November of 2017, man, that just felt like the Hindenberg disaster of video games.
But hey, those are some controversial game launches, games that came out and pissed people off for reasons.
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