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The worst Steam games ever released

In the years since it was created by Valve Corporation, Steam has become a major platform that has allowed AAA game designers and indie developers alike to have a place for their ideas. Likewise, it provides a one-stop shop for PC gamers to network, purchase games, participate in matchmaking, and watch other players stream their games. It's certainly come a long way from simply being a way for Valve to patch pre-existing games

With over one billion registered Steam accounts as of 2019 and with such a glut of content, it's only natural that more than a few stinkers would worm their way onto the service and into the libraries of unsuspecting gamers. From barely functioning adventure games to simulators that forgot to simulate any semblance of fun, the following games are examples of some of the very worst that Steam has to offer, past and present. Some of the titles here were even so bad that they've been removed from sale, prompted people to demand refunds, or both.

For PC gamers, it really doesn't get any worse than this.

FlatOut 3: Chaos & Destruction

Sometimes a third entry in a video game series is when the franchise hits a sweet spot. In those cases, the developers have likely figured out what worked and what didn't in previous games and they can put what they've learned into the best game possible. Sometimes you'll get A Link to the Past or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but sometimes you'll wind up with a stinker like FlatOut 3: Chaos & Destruction, a poorly-constructed racing game that IGN's Luke Reilly called "all seven shades of awful."

So what happened? Well, the short version is that FlatOut 3 wasn't developed by Bugbear, the same studio that made the first two installments. Instead, development of FlatOut 3 was handled by Team6, the studio that churned out games with titles like Scooter War3z, a name that cannot even be said aloud.

Regardless of Team6's back catalogue, it seems that players were completely unprepared for the steep drop in quality. Steam user reviews complain of poor graphics, buggy racing physics, and even maps that are missing the track in some spots. One user describes this as "a map where you have to jump across a black hole and never make it." Oh, and just to be clear: despite the presence of black holes in the road, FlatOut 3 isn't a science-fiction game; it's just a terrible one.

Airport Simulator 2014

If taxiing down poorly rendered runways for an absurd amount of time is your idea of fun, then Airport Simulator 2014 is the game for you. This isn't a knock on simulator games in general; the good ones have ways of holding a player's attention and turning seemingly mundane tasks into interesting challenges. Unfortunately for anyone who purchased this game, the idea of being fun was never considered at any stage of making Airport Simulator 2014.

If you're lucky enough to get the game to start without crashing, you're treated to what Games Asylum referred to as "a game that is more complicated than it has any reason to be." Airport Simulator 2014 lacks any kind of tutorial, instead thrusting players into the day-to-day of running and maintaining their virtual airport without a lick of training. This wouldn't be quite so daunting if the menus weren't so hard to navigate and the planes themselves were easy to control. Instead, every little mechanic seems to drag on and on, while the player's goals and waypoints are inscrutable.

Not to mention there are also the constant bugs and wonky physics that cause things like this to happen while you sloooowwwwly guide your airplane down the runway. Hopefully that's a sight that you never look outside and see from your terminal in the real world. Is there such a thing as a plane exorcist?

Gasp

Gasp is a spacewalking simulator that allows players to step into the boots of a space explorer. Sounds cool, right? The developers advertise an immersive experience that requires players to make wise choices and conserve their oxygen as they head to the source of a mysterious signal on the lunar surface. All of this would be a neat idea for a game, if any of it worked the way it was supposed to.

Sadly, according to user reviews, not only is it possible to continue playing once you've run out of oxygen (so much for the big, bad perma-death touted by the game), but you literally can't pick up or interact with the gadget broadcasting the mysterious signal in any way. Some reviewers complained that even though the game was free, they still felt as though they'd been ripped off in some way. 

A review from Ashley Rivas at Principally Uncertain elaborated upon these gripes, while also explaining that it was difficult to even get far enough into the game to experience the myriad of problems for herself, as "the game was literally breaking every second that [she was] playing it." It appears as though this game would be better off being set adrift in space.

Postal 3

The Postal franchise has never exactly been the very model of quality. It's a fairly controversial series that revels in absurdity, violence, and off-color humor. So when you learn that Postal 3 was so bad that the company behind the first two installments publicly disowned it, that should give you a pretty solid idea of the level of grossness we're dealing with here. 

As explained by Running With Scissors, the creators of the Postal series, Postal 3 "was outsourced to a Russian publisher for development" rather than being made in-house by RWS. The game was developed by the almost prophetically named TrashMasters Studios. Sadly, financial difficulties led to the publisher cutting corners and rushing the game to market in what RWS refers to as "an unfinished state, barely out of its alpha stages." After being displeased with the final product and showcasing many of the game's awful reviews on their own site, Running With Scissors removed Postal 3 from their store.

For the curious, Postal 3 is still available on Steam, but tread carefully. User reviews complain of poor aiming mechanics, a violently shaking screen when your character is running, and frequent crashes. It's enough to make someone go ... well, you know.

Under Zero

Under Zero is to survival games what Gasp is to space exploration games. That is, it's a broken, buggy, ugly mess. Developers Dagestan Technology describe the game as "a charming adventure 3D game telling a story about heavy fate of a woman [sic]," and also oddly claim in the game's trailer that it is based on a true story. Well, it certainly is believable that, once upon a time, a lady walked around in the woods for no apparent reason. Still, it's not much to hinge a game on. Also, that lady probably wasn't impervious to harm.

No exaggeration, there doesn't appear to be any story or point once the game starts up. If there is, it's obscured by the numerous bugs that make Under Zero nearly impossible to play. These include walls and trees than you can simply walk through, taking you outside of the map entirely. This would seem like a solid strategy to prevent bodily harm, but that honestly isn't much of a problem either, as most of the wolves that occasionally attack your character can't kill you either. Let them snack on you and then take a barefoot walk through the snow; it's no big deal.

In other words, this is a survival game that doesn't really bother putting any tangible obstacles between the player and survival. Unless you count the excruciatingly loud music that can't be adjusted, which may defeat the player before their character.

Chaos Domain

Chaos Domain has "no storyline, no tutorial, and seemingly no point." But what it does have is screen after screen of the same enemies firing bullets that apparently travel through platforms and blurry, muddy visuals that can make it difficult to tell what's even happening at times. Like with any good shooter, whittling down the hordes of enemies could make it easier to size up your opposition. Unfortunately, the controls are just as poor as the visuals.

To Chaos Domain's credit, the game's developers wear their inspirations on their sleeves. Sadly, the execution simply isn't there. As mentioned by a review from GameGrin, "Chaos Domain's Contra influence is clear from minute one ... What the developers forgot to borrow from Contra was responsive controls, interesting level design, and engaging bosses. Not only that, but the AI behaviour in Chaos Domain is more simple than a game that came out 30 years ago."

Not every game needs to have an engaging story, but the lack of anything to hold onto in terms of character or visuals makes it difficult to devote any significant amount of time to it. When you add on the frequent crashes reported by members of the Steam communityChaos Domain certainly seems like it may be the worst shoot-em-up on the platform.

Ampersand

Ampersand is meant to be a combat racing game in the vein of F-Zero. Sadly, there are several issues standing between this game and greatness. The vehicle design is at least neat, resembling something out of a Star Wars movie, but they look pretty rough in motion. Even worse, the controls aren't actually explained to you. You have to search through the Steam comments and reviews to figure out how to even start playing the thing, as some frustrated Ampersand owners have taken it upon themselves to lay the controls out for other folks unfortunate enough to have purchased it.

Not that knowing the controls would make Ampersand any easier to play. One user review points out that, once your vehicle picks up any decent amount of speed, it's nearly impossible to negotiate a turn in the track. You know, the main thing you need to be able to do in a racing game? Adding onto this frustration is the annoying music, which frequently drops out entirely, seemingly for no reason and occasionally accompanied by a random "continue" screen that also appears whenever it feels like.

All in all, Ampersand is only worth checking out for the neat designs. However, even then, one could be better off just revisiting one of the many (better) F-Zero games, if that throwback futuristic feel is what you're after.

Citadels

Citadels is meant to be a castle-building and defense RTS game in the vein of Stronghold or Age of Empires, but it falls embarrassingly short of that mark. The most common criticisms are its frequent crashes, muddy and outdated graphics, and a general lack of explanation for what exactly the player is meant to be doing. Menus are confusing and unintuitive, while weak AI sees the many troops on the ground wandering around with no apparent goal, regardless of what you've commanded them to do. It's needlessly complicated, yet it also feels like nothing is being accomplished, which in itself is an interesting combination.

How could a game be so underdeveloped and yet still so hard to follow? A review of Citadels from GameFront may have summed it up best when they said, "Put it back in the oven; this game is not ready. Citadels is simply tedious to play ... I couldn't recommend this game even if it were free-to-play ... it simply fails in execution in just about every way imaginable." Maybe the worst thing about Citadels is that it doesn't appear as though any updates or fixes for the game's many issues are forthcoming, but it still costs $15 to purchase. Now that's medieval.

Skyscraper Simulator

From the folks who made Airport Simulator 2014 comes this city-planning abomination. There isn't anything wrong with architecture sims, but Sim City this is not. Skyscraper Simulator is an exercise in pure tedium. "It is a remarkably simplistic and shallow game that has under a half hour worth of content," said one review of the game. "Skyscraper Simulator has nothing of interest for anyone, and even novices who haven't played any type of simulator game before will be bored with this in short notice." Basically, even if you're passionate about games of this type, it's been done infinitely better in other titles.

User reviews on Steam have noted that the game is less of an active simulator and more of a "sit and watch" kind of game. Rather than diving into the kind of micromanagement that sim players get into, a lot this game involves clicking to start a job and then waiting several hours for it to finish. You can sell your skyscraper for the exact amount it takes to build the next skyscraper (rinse and repeat), making this less of a game and more of an occasionally interactive screensaver. There seems to be no real goal beyond hiring workers to build skyscrapers and then letting them do their thing. At least it's not in real time, but it may as well be.

StarForge

The case of StarForge is a strange one, indeed. This science-fiction survival game was crowdfunded through Indiegogo and appeared to be a genuine success story in the making. However, as explained by TechRaptor, there were several red flags raised through the course of StarForge's development. Developers Code Hatch laid off multiple team members while the game was being worked on, at least one of whom took to Reddit to complain about the game's apparent lack of progress. When the game was released, it was the subject of disastrous reviews. 

Steam users have complained of terrible graphics and gameplay, dismayed that many of the features touted on StarForge's product page "are either implimented [sic] poorly or not even in the game." That's right, not only was the game bad, but it didn't even do the things that were advertised. 

This led to Indiegogo backers and folks unfortunate enough to have purchased StarForge through Steam to feel betrayed, even going so far as to organize a petition demanding refunds from Code Hatch or Valve, as well as calling for the game's removal from Steam. At least one of those things happened, as Code Hatch eventually had StarForge removed from the platform, instead posting a downloadable free version of the game on their own website. Still, if reactions from people who have played StarForge are anything to go by, it might not even be worth crowding your hard drive with the free version.

Game Tycoon 1.5

The worst thing about Game Tycoon 1.5 might actually be how close the name is to Greenheart Games' Game Dev Tycoon. In fact, some of the user reviews complain of buying this title thinking it was a sequel to Game Dev Tycoon, which likely resulted in a bigger surprise for them than anything else this game has to offer.

The cherry on top of this weak sundae is that the game isn't even fun to look at or hear. As mentioned in a review by TV and Film Guy, "The graphics and sound are not noteworthy in any respect, they seem as though a minimal amount of effort went into creating them (or a maximal amount of effort over a decade ago)." In fact, characters will occasionally talk at the exact same time, with an NPC speaking over the character giving you the tutorial for playing the game, and with no way to pause either of them. In addition to this, error messages will constantly pop up, regardless of whether or not you're doing precisely what the game told you to do. 

These difficulties render the tutorial portions of the game, in the words of one reviewer, "far from user friendly." At least that makes for an interesting challenge, albeit one that was definitely unintentional on the part of the game's designers. There's something sadly poetic about the idea of a barely functioning game that is literally about trying to make a good game.