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Games So Bad They Were Pulled From Shelves

Sometimes, games are bad. It's just an unfortunate reality of any creative endeavor that not everything turns out how you'd hoped. After all, as the author Theodore Sturgeon once said, "ninety percent of everything is crap." Still, even amongst all the shovelware, games ruined by corporate interference, and failed attempts to try something new, some games stand apart. There is a category of games that go beyond the realm of the unpleasant. These are games that are so awful that they're either impossible to play or they fell so short of expectations that they left everyone who touched them disappointed.


These games might be so riddled with bugs that players can't even make it through the opening quest, or they have such an unbearably bad story that you just check out. Oftentimes these games might even make it to store shelves, both virtual and brick and mortar, only to be delisted after player backlash. These are just some of the games in that category: games that were so bad that they were pulled from stores.

Cyberpunk 2077

The disastrous launch of "Cyberpunk 2077" has been chronicled many times over the last couple of years, and in excruciating detail. It's almost unprecedented for a game as hyped as "Cyberpunk 2077" was, from a developer as respected as CD Projekt Red, to be as unpolished as it was on launch. One element that often gets lost in the discussion is that "Cyberpunk 2077" was actually taken off the Playstation Store shortly after its release. Sony said at the time that the game did not meet the company's desire to "ensure a high level of customer satisfaction." Sony offered any disappointed customers a full refund.


The game was eventually put back up on the Playstation Store in June 2021 after seven months off one of the biggest digital gaming marketplaces. By that time, "Cyberpunk 2077" had received several patches fixing many of the issues players had encountered at launch. Even so, Sony warned potential customers that the game was still being worked on behind the scenes, despite the relisting. The issues with the game's launch became so legendary that commercials for the game's "Phantom Liberty" DLC included in-jokes about how the game had finally been fixed.

Marvel's Avengers

"Marvel's Avengers" seemed like a surefire hit from the moment it was announced. It was a story-driven game based on one of the most popular media franchises of all-time, published by Square Enix, one of gaming's most successful developers. That had to be a slam dunk, surely. It turned out to be anything but that.


The game released to mediocre reviews from critics and fans alike. Despite good initial sales, most players who bought the game were underwhelmed. As a result, "Marvel's Avengers" bombed. It never generated enough media buzz or positive word of mouth for continuing sales to make it profitable. Now, just over three years after launch, "Marvel's Avengers" can't even be bought anymore. After being marked down by 90% on Steam, the game was delisted from all stores in September 2023.

"Marvel's Avengers" remains one of the great "what ifs" in gaming's last few years. It seemed so promising on the surface, but ultimately failed so badly it wasn't even worth selling anymore. More story-driven Marvel games are on the way, and hopefully they'll meet with more success.


Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One

"Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One" barely lasted over a month on the Playstation Store, and less than two months on Steam. The game received an aggregated review score of just 21 on Metacritic. It was riddled with bugs and suffered from a huge variety of technical issues, ranging from a strange aspect ratio to repeated audio glitches. Both Sony and Valve wasted no time in removing the game from their platforms.


Versus Evil, the publisher of "Afro Samurai 2," admitted the game fell severely short of expectations. Speaking with Comics Gaming Magazine, studio GM Steve Escalante said, "The game was a failure. We could not do, in good conscience, volume 2 and volume 3. So we've begun the process, it's been a long process to figure it out because Sony has never really had to do this in this way, but we're returning all the money."

It's rare to see a game's developer take responsibility for a failed release on this level. Even if Versus Evil cannot be commended for what the team created with "Afro Samurai 2," many gave the company credit for owning up to its mistakes and doing right by the players.

Babylon's Fall

"Babylon's Fall" is another game published by Square Enix that simply did not meet expectations at all. In fact, the game lasted even less time in stores than "Marvel's Avengers," not even making it to the one year mark. Released on March 3, 2022, "Babylon's Fall" was removed from digital storefronts in September 2022 and shut down by February of the following year.


The game was rated as the third-worst game of 2022 by Metacritic (via TheGamer) and was no better received by players. Reviewers cited un-engaging combat, a dull fantasy world, and an underwhelming story as their reasons for disliking the game. Before shutting it down, Square Enix tried to fix "Babylon's Fall," even releasing a survey to figure out what could be done to improve it, but it just wasn't enough. The game was simply not good enough at its cored to be saved, and there was never a chance it was going to recover.

Final Fantasy 14

"Final Fantasy 14" might be a successful MMORPG now, but it didn't start that way. From a bad user interface to mediocre graphics and loads of bugs, players had no shortage of things to complain about during the game's original launch. In fact, things were so bad that just two years later, Square Enix shut down the 1.0 version. A year later, "FFX14" was relaunched as "Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn." This version was met with much better reception from both players and critics and remains popular to this day. In an ionic turn of events, the game was pulled from shelves again at one point, but for pretty much the exact opposite reasons: It became too good! 


After the successful release of an expansion, "Endwalker," the game received so much hype for its new content that the servers became overloaded. Square Enix decided to pull the game from the market to try and slow the flood of new and returning players. These issues were exacerbated by the parts shortages that plagued the computer hardware industry during 2021. This meant that no matter how much money Square Enix wanted to invest in increased "FF14" server space, the company simply couldn't get the necessary hardware in a timely fashion.

The first time "Final Fantasy 14" was pulled from sale, it was due to its weaknesses as a game. The second time, the game was a victim of its own success. Square Enix also paid a literal price for this second setback, giving 21 days of free subscription time to make up for the server issues.


Overkill's The Walking Dead

"Overkill's The Walking Dead" was a game based on the wildly popular comics and TV series of the same name. It was designed as a co-op multiplayer survival game that would allow players to experience what it was like to try and survive in the world of "The Walking Dead."


After release, "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman was not impressed with the game's less-than-stellar critical reception. He opted to withdraw developer Starbreeze's license to his property. This forced Starbreeze to remove the PC game from physical and digital stores, as the company would no longer had the legal right to sell the game. Plans for console ports were likewise canceled.

Kirkman's company Skybound entertainment told IGN in a statement, "We did our best to work with Starbreeze and resolve many issues that we saw with the game, but ultimately 'Overkill's The Walking Dead' did not meet our standards nor is it the quality that we were promised."

Age of Empires Online

"Age of Empires Online" was a bold attempt to take the beloved real-time strategy series and add an MMO element to it. The result was a product of its time, releasing at the height of the MMO craze in August 2011. Despite mixed reviews, the game had over 100,000 players at its peak, but as "AoEO" executive producer Kevin Perry explained (via Polygon), that "fell right off a cliff."


Perry admitted "Age of Empires Online" was not a bad game, but it's free-to-play business model simply never worked, as it didn't offer players enough content or incentive. According to Perry, the game wasn't capable of keeping players invested enough to pay for the microtransactions that the game relied upon for revenue.

With a decent but somewhat unpopular game and no viable business model, Microsoft pulled the plug on "Age of Empires Online" a little over two years after launch. The game was removed from sale in August 2013, then its remaining services were taken offline a little under a year later. Perhaps if it had offered more content at launch, "Age of Empires Online" could have managed enough of a player base to make its flawed business model work. Unfortunately for its small but devoted fanbase, it never got that chance.



"Paragon" was Epic Games' attempt to break into the MOBA genre and hopefully benefit from the popularity of games like "League of Legends" and "DOTA 2." This did not work out for Epic Games as, by the company's own admission (via Kotaku), "We didn't execute well enough to deliver on the promise of 'Paragon.' We have failed you — despite the team's incredibly hard work — and we're sorry." Epic even offered players a full refund on the game.


In the same statement, Epic Games announced it was removing "Paragon" from the company's online store and would be shutting down the game permanently. The company had recently found itself with a surprise smash hit in "Fortnite," which prompted Epic to decide that this game was its path to success in the multiplayer space, not "Paragon." As a result, even before being shut down, much of the "Paragon" development team had already been shifted to work on "Fortnite." With a super popular game on one hand and a failing MOBA on the other, the choice to shut down "Paragon" was an obvious (but painful) one for those who loved it.

The WarZ

"The WarZ" — later known as "Infestation: Survivor Stories" — was a multiplayer zombie survival game that rose to prominence as part of a massive wave of survival games around its release in late 2012. Skeptics wrote it off as an obvious rip-off of the wildly popular mod "DayZ," but that didn't stop it from generating quite a bit of hype. That hype died almost immediately upon release, when it became obvious to players that the game was missing tons of promised features.


"The WarZ" did not, for example, have the enormous map promised in its Steam store description, nor did it have 100 player servers or a "hardcore" mode, which the description also claimed. This misleading sales pitch led Steam to quickly remove the game from its store, and offer players refunds on their purchases. Meanwhile, the developers claimed that people had not comprehended the game description in the original listing, which didn't sit right with players. The game was eventually put back on the Steam store a few months later, after it had been improved somewhat.

The game was eventually rebranded as "Infestation: Survivor Stories," but these changes did not lead to longterm success. The game was shut down a little under four years after it launched, for good this time. A rework of the game, "Infestation: The New Z," was released by another dev team in its place.


Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition

"Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition" had a rocky launch, to say the least. One day after it was released, the PC version of the collection was delisted due to issues with Rockstar's launcher. Even after the launcher was reinstated, the game remained unavailable as Rockstar excised "files unintentionally included in these versions." During this time, the game was still available for purchase to those with access to a PlayStation or Xbox. Unfortunately, those versions were likewise blasted for numerous graphical issues and bugs.


The release of "GTA: The Trilogy" was also the cause for Rockstar's delisting of all three original games contained within the remaster. In preparation for the launch of the remastered games, Rockstar removed "Grand Theft Auto 3," "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," and "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" from digital stores. Fans of the games were iffy on the move at the time, but after the remaster was more than a little bit disappointing, they became irate.

Rockstar quickly backpedaled, putting all three removed games back up for sale on its own online store. The publisher also apologized in a public statement, both for the extremely poor quality of the remastered trilogy and for having removed the original games in the first place. Rockstar even went a step further, offering anyone who had purchased the remastered versions a free bundle of all three previously removed games in a sort of mea culpa to customers. The remastered trilogy has since seen a variety of patches designed to address the issues it had at launch, though it's not hard to believe some players still prefer the original games.