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Overhyped Games That Totally Flopped Hard

There's no bigger embarrassment than hyping up a game, whipping an audience into a an excited frenzy ready to preorder away, and then disappointing everyone. We know what it's like to listen to the flashy marketing schemes and promising trailers, load up the game and find that in reality, the anticipated title is at best just okay and at worst, a total flop.

It's no fun for anyone involved when a game flops. Players feel deceived, even betrayed, and the developers that promised the world have the burden of failure to shoulder. It's worse when the trailers look so sleek and the demo is so cool. Yet somehow, the game winds up impressing absolutely no one upon release. What happened? The unfortunate fact is that things go wrong along the way. Here's some games that we hyped up, hoped, and prayed would be good. But then they just weren't.

Final Fantasy 14 Online was killed by graphical quality

The world of Final Fantasy is beautiful and detailed. Just look at how many belt buckles the average player sports! Despite this careful crafting that developers pour into the games, it's this "unhealthy obsession with graphical quality" that effectively killed Final Fantasy 14 Online. This MMO was Square Enix's second, and had seemed promising at first. It was definitely easy on the eyes. However, it's beauty turned out to only be skin deep.

Upon its 2010 launch, the game was an all-around failure. With constant crashes and a hard limit on the number of players on screen at a time, the MMO failed basic MMO requirements. There had been a marked dichotomy in priorities by devs: they put the same number of shaders on potted plant as they did a playable character, limiting what the game could support. After the disaster, Square Enix gave a presentation at the Game Developers Conference on exactly what went so horribly, horribly wrong. They acknowledged that 14 Online had an unfriendly user interface, an extreme lack of content, a broken battle system, and unstable servers. They said that even with eight years of experience running Final Fantasy 11, they were unable to recognize changes in the MMO market and user needs. It turned out that "creating a successful MMORPG sequel is harder than it looks."

Fortunately, Square Enix was able to learn from their mistakes and relaunch the game in a far better incarnation.

Epic Mickey 2 didn't fix the mistakes of the past

Before Blendy and the Ink Machine, there was Epic Mickey, a series of games featuring Disney's favorite mouse, a magical paintbrush, and globs of malicious ink. The first game was a hit on the Wii, selling 1.3 million copies in about a month as it sketched out the story of Mickey in a world of forgotten Disney creations. It had interesting mechanics, nostalgic platforming, but despite positive reception, had some glaring gameplay issues that took it from a ten to a seven.

People were also disappointed that the premise wasn't as dark as it was hyped up to be, but Epic Mickey 2 gave Junction Point Studios another chance to clean up the camera controls, vary the missions, and make the characters more charming. But they didn't.

2012's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two definitely added some flair and charm, but failed to erase the wonky controls that marred the first game. The sequel didn't have nearly the success of the first, and flopped hard. Epic Mickey 2 made less than a quarter of the sales of its predecessor and had largely mixed reviews. Cutscenes were cool, but they didn't make up for broken AI. The characters were more fleshed out, but tasks were mind-numbingly repetitive and boring. The good name of Disney couldn't save this bellyflop of a game or Junction Point Studios, which was shut down by Disney in 2013.

Fallout 76 fooled us all

Bethesda's Fallout 76 presentation at 2018's E3 was nothing but a hypefest. There were beautiful vistas, a compelling narrator, and tantalizing glimpses of massive machines and monstrous creatures. You could call it almost heaven. The audience was ecstatic and Todd Howard still had more to reveal after the trailer had already convinced gamers that this was the next step in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout. Yes, you could still experience a solo story in this online, multiplayer game. Yes, your progress will be saved when you join up with your buddies. Yes, you can nuke each other. Oh yes, the collector's edition map "glows in the f***ing dark."

When the game came out in November of that year, it had just about the amount of appeal that a glow-in-the-dark, fictional map does: it was nice to look at, appeared to have a ton of content, but just didn't function. Any story that the game has is scant due to a glaring lack of the NPCs that usually make Bethesda games memorable. It's rare to run into other players, and when you do, the PvP system is bunk. There were several infamous bugs with the nuke system. Oh, and that exciting collector's edition? Comes equipped with a second rate nylon bag that effectively turned the internet against Bethesda. We were excited, then disappointed, and then angry with Fallout 76.

Always online SimCity never connected

There's a reason why the steady stream of Sims games stopped after 2014. And it may have been because of the utter flop of 2013's SimCity. It had the burden of a grand legacy of beloved games upon its shoulders. Previous SimCity titles managed to garner the admiration of amateurs and master architects alike as they built and wrecked whole interactive cities. But when it came to the launch of the 2013 reboot of the founding series of the Sim line, the emphasis of play was on the wreck.

The game had the ambitious aim to make SimCity bigger than ever. It was going to be 3D and free of everything that made previous games tedious or confusing. If that wasn't enough, EA had machinations for an always-online experience wherein players could connect their cities to that of their friends and build metropolises together.

But this cool-sounding idea turned out to be a fatal flaw, because upon launch, a million people trying to play were left unable to log on. The servers couldn't handle the load and wouldn't for months and months, even as EA scrambled to add more and repair others. This meant that planned content was scrapped in favor of putting out fires, and that fans were disappointed enough to demand refunds.

Mass Effect: Andromeda still makes us cringe

People like Mass Effect. People like exploratory games. Therefore, people should like Mass Effect: Andromeda. But they don't, for a myriad of totally legitimate reasons. BioWare also hyped up Andromeda for a number of entirely valid reasons: players would be discovering whole new worlds inhabited by whole new races of aliens. Players had more customization options than ever before and with the march of technological progress, surely the animation would be something to behold.

The more that was released about Andromeda, the more that fans realized how wrong they were to assume that it would be a better game than the original trilogy. Stuck in development hell, the game was cobbled together in the way a college student throws together a term paper six hours before it's due: messily. Where was the well-written, compelling narrative of Mass Effect games past? Why was the UI so frustratingly cumbersome? And how in the world did the animations look so awkward and broken? Andromeda might not have been a total failure — unlike SimCity, it was still playable — but some people were playing it just to clip the sad interactions made by the characters plagued with thousand-yard stares. Fans were disappointed, and reviewers were too: for a AAA title, Mass Effect: Andromeda was maybe a C-rated game.

Brink was on the brink of greatness

It's sad to see potential wasted, and Bethesda's Brink had a lot. The first-person, class-based shooter had everything that was cool at the time of ye olde 2011: a post-apocalyptic setting that commented on global warming, parkour, cyberpunk character designs, and Team Fortress 2-esque gameplay. And Bethesda, of course, was one of the strongest names in the business.

Brink could have been a hit. It could have been a favorite game to play with friends. It could have been the game that the cool kids play. So why haven't you heard of it? Reviewers just weren't sure what to make of Brink. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. A sure way for a game to go quietly into the night is straddling the line between okay and mediocre. Brink's lackluster performance wasn't enough to incite riots, but the game definitely left players sighing as they looked back on months of anticipation. In the end, Brink warranted nothing more than a shrug. More recently in 2017, Brink was added to Steam as a free-to-play game without so much as a whisper of fanfare. A far cry from the "second-coming of shooting games."

Red Steel was less precision and more flailing like mad

Back in 2006, Red Steel presented a novel idea: a grown-up game for the Wii. It wasn't the first, and certainly not the last, but the trailer made the game stand out from the piles of shovelware that later made Nintendo ultra-wary of third-party developers. Red Steel was produced by Ubisoft, and the trailer showed off a perfect marriage between gameplay and the Wii's motion controls. Players were able to carefully aim guns and — maybe with less precision — swing katana. Despite what the name suggests, Red Steel is a largely bloodless title, but turns players into a vengeful warrior taking down yakuza in an immersive experience.

That was the idea, anyway. In reality, Red Steel was just a disappointment. For a game that was built around motion controls, the actual gameplay is all wild swinging and blind shooting that looks nothing like the precise moves shown off in the trailer. Disappearing reticles and the slowest characters ever further complicated what should have been seamless gameplay. If players are able to get past clunky controls, then they might find that the game honestly looks good ... but sounds kind of racist. As "Scott-san" cuts down his enemies, they sound an awful lot like white voice actors faking a Japanese accent.

Too Human took too long, tried too hard

Too Human was compromised from within by a big-talking, overly-ambitious, argumentative studio head that led to every unsold copy of the game being wiped from the face of the planet.

Too Human's long descent into infamy began all the way back in 1999, when developer Silicon Knights announced that they were crafting a fully 3D, futuristic game that sounded suspiciously like Blade Runner for the PlayStation. Then it was going to be on the GameCube — no wait, actually the Xbox 360. The game, which had undergone significant changes both mechanically and narratively was at last expected to release for the holidays of 2006. It was going to be an epic, sci-fi RPG reimagining of Norse mythology, and people were pumped. And for anyone who doubted that it would be anything less than game of the year, they had Denis Dyack, Too Human's biggest fan and creator, to answer to.

Dyack was well-known for getting into arguments with skeptical fans on the forum NeoGAF. But fans still had a considerably long time to wait until they were able to confirm if they were "owned by Dyack" because Too Human got delayed another two years, since Silicon Knights sued Epic Games, saying that their Unreal Engine 3 hadn't delivered the results they had expected. When the game flopped upon its 2008 release, Silicon Knights later bore the brunt of a double whammy: they lost their suit against Epic, and every copy of Too Human had to be destroyed.

Lair was something … different

Dragons are cool. Riding on dragons? Even cooler. Supposedly you can't go wrong with dragons, but looking back at the failure that was Lair proves that a game needs more substance than big, scaly fantasy creatures. Lair was such a flop that Sony had to try desperately to soften its deafening crash: they sent out "reviewer's guides" in which journalists were encouraged to "open your mind and hands for something very different!"

"Different" in this case was mediocre, and not at all the vision studio Factor 5 had hyped up. Along the way, the game had lost the story that the studio had been passionate about and wound up being a shadow of what could have been. Throw in the fact that the controls were practically nauseating, because for some reason it was imperative that you really felt like you had hold of a dragon's reigns, and Lair turned out technically unimpressive, narratively uncompelling, and internally embarrassing to Factor 5 devs.

People like Factor 5 co-founder Julian Eggebrecht lost interest in the game when it went from an open-world game to a linear story. He allegedly was an overbearing boss, and caused a few devs like designer Joe Pinney to quit. Like fans, no one from Factor 5 was happy with what became of Lair. "Lair was a genuine f***-up by everybody involved, probably me the worst," Eggebrecht later said in an interview with Polygon.

Daikatana did not make anyone its b****

Okay, so being a big influence behind historic titles like Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein 3D gives you some right to brag. John Romero, co-founder of id Software, has shaped gaming as we know it. He coined the term "deathmatch." He's allowed to be cocky, and the industry is also right to have high expectations for any game he hypes up. But 2000's Daikatana didn't deliver.

Romero was so confident in the time-traveling, futuristic RPG shooter that the ads read, "John Romero's about to make you his b****. Suck it down." A little aggressive, and in the light of Daikatana's flop, downright humiliating. The game was delayed several times, but the extra time in development did little to improve the clunky gameplay, weird story, and aggravating enemies. If players didn't fall through the world into polygonal oblivion, then they had to face down the same ugly enemies again and again. Daikatana's graphics looked like that of a game that had come out five years previously, and fans were disappointed.

"You know, I never wanted to make you my b****, not you, not them, not any of the other players and, most importantly, not any of my fans," Romero later told Gamesauce magazine.

Thief stole our faith in the franchise

The dismal performance of 2014's Thief remake proves that you should never try to reinvent the wheel or well-received stealth games. 1998's Thief: The Dark Project was something of a revolution, and its influence has touched a myriad of games since. Instead of running in guns blazing and swords flashing, Thief was all about slow sneaking and light fingers. The game and its sequels had a cult following, and are still perfectly playable today. Maybe it would be better to stick with them instead of the remake that marred the series' good reputation.

Eidos Montreal's remake had to live up to some high expectations. They had years to do so, and a AAA budget, but like many a flop, something went wrong along the way. The game that was finally, finally released was worse at stealth and quick escapes than its contemporary counterparts like Dishonored and Assassin's Creed. Apparently legendary master thief Garrett is unable to open windows after they are shut behind him. The world of 2014's Thief was a whole lot of locked doors and dead ends, with little polish to make up for bad AI and frequent bugs. Rather than stealing hearts, Thief stole fans' faith in an otherwise amazing series of games.

Brute Force couldn't kill Halo

Brute Force is a series that put gaming on the map. Countless professional gamers have been proud to participate in Brute Force tournaments. Everyone knows and loves Tex, one of the most recognizable characters in the medium, right? Right?


You probably don't actually remember Brute Force, but at one time, it was trying very earnestly to be the next big thing. To be frank, it was trying to kill Halo by being remarkably similar to Halo and doing nothing to differentiate itself from being nothing more than a discount Halo. Produced by Digital Anvil in 2003 exclusively for Xbox, the game was released before Halo 2 and if anything, only made players more eager for Bungie's sequel. Because although Brute Force wasn't bad, it wasn't good. Certainly not as good as it claimed to be.

The squad-based shooter had an uninspired sci-fi plot to explain the missions in the game. The flimsy story follows Tex — who has the exact personality you would assume a guy named Tex would have — and his squad as they protect colonists on alien planets. The game was hyped up to the point that it did beat out Halo in terms of first-week sales. Once people got ahold of it, however, they found that the squad was unbalanced, the gameplay had gone from tactical to shoot-em-up, and that everything else about it was unmemorable other than the poor reviews it received.