The 14 Biggest Flops In Video Game History

List Rules
Vote up the video game flops that you were disappointed in.

The video game industry is one of the most profitable fields in the world, with franchises like all the Mario games and Grand Theft Auto. But even the best farms tend to yield bad crops once in a while, and the game industry is no exception. Now, these aren't just video games with terrible endings - these are the games that were devastatingly disastrous from the get-go.

Some titles on this list cost developers and publishers hundreds of thousands of dollars (only to sell a handful of copies), while others had excessive hype that gave way to piss-poor reviews. Even worse, a few of these games came out so glitchy and technically flawed that they should never have left the public beta stage. This list of video games contains the worst failures the industry has seen, including one that was such a debacle it resulted in destroying a console manufacturer. Check out the biggest video game flops of all time. 

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  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
    Photo: Atari

    E.T. was all the rage in the '80s. Atari spent around $21 million for the licensing rights alone and paid $200,000 (along with an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii) to secure the right developer. The E.T. video game was highly anticipated at its release in 1982, becoming a popular sought-after Christmas gift. Stores over-ordered in anticipation, only to be met with disappointment because the title flopped due to mediocre gameplay. 

    It eventually sold 1.5 million units, and is still one of the best-selling Atari 2600 titles. However, over 3 million cartridges went unsold, resulting in a huge commercial loss. Atari buried these millions of copies of E.T. in a landfill in New Mexico, which were later unearthed in 2014. The total money lost after all was said and done? $536 million

    • Released: 1982
    • Developer: Atari, Inc., Atari
  • 2
    400 votes

    Superman

    Video games saw a surge of superhero games in the late '90s and early 2000s. Unfortunately, many of the titles were shameless money-grabs that were churned out as quickly as possible. Superman was no exception. In addition to production delays and basic control problems, the game suffered from serious technical issues.

    Most notably, this title is often referred to as the worst game of all time.

  • Duke Nukem Forever was the long awaited sequel to the incomparable Duke Nukem. It was supposed to be released in 1998, but was inexplicably delayed time and time again until 2006. Since the game development started in the '90s, it had some pretty outdated graphics. 

    Add the fact that the developers and publishers were fighting over funding and licensing rights, and you've got the end-result of a heavily criticized flop. 

    • Released: 2011
    • Developer: Gearbox Software, 3D Realms
  • 4
    717 votes

    No Man's Sky

    Hello Games, the developers for No Man's Sky, caught a lot of flack for "falsely advertising" their game. Steam featured ads for the game that displayed "a different type of combat, unique buildings, 'ship flying behavior' and [different] creature sizes." They were also criticized for displaying ads for the game with higher quality graphics than can be attained in-game.

    Complaints were so drastic that the Advertising Standards Authority started an investigation into the advertising campaign of the game (which ultimately concluded that the devs didn't mislead customers). Although the game was a massive critical flop, it was a financial success, raking in an estimated $43 million. They sold over 800,000 copies of the game in the first year of its release, despite losing over 90% of their fan base within two weeks time. 

  • 5
    168 votes

    John Romero was kind of a big deal in the '90s. He was the head of id Software and designer of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. So when he announced Daikatana, people were understandably very excited. But then, things took a bad turn when an ad campaign launched, stating, "John Romero's About to Make You His B*tch." The horizon looked even bleaker when the developing studio, Ion Storm, tried (and failed) to quickly switch engines before the scheduled 1999 release. 

    Thus, not only were the fans mad about the ads, but the game was released late and had terrible gameplay mechanics. Ion Storm's parent company, Eidos, dumped nearly $40 million into the game before deciding to call time of death. 

    • Released: 2000
    • Developer: Kemco, Ion Storm
  • The original Driver for PC in 1998 was wildly successful, as was it's successor Driver 2, so Atari and Reflections Interactive thought they had this one in the bag. As always, the hype machine was rolling right along for this title, as Driver 2 had made some serious improvements to the franchise.

    Unfortunately, Driver 3 was basically Driver 2 with a coat of polish, and was almost immediately universally rejected. In addition to terrible controls, the game only provided 3 hours of single player content. But the biggest scandal was the fact that, despite being a terrible game, Driver 3 received overwhelmingly positive game reviews from different review sites.

    This led to the famous incident dubbed "Driv3rgate," where people were generally turned off by the dishonest practices of both publishers and journalists. 

    • Released: Jun 21 2004
    • Developer: Ubisoft Reflections