Button Mash

Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype  

Logan Rapp
6.9k votes 1.3k voters 68.7k views 28 items

For a video game developer, managing hype is a difficult job. Gamers have to be excited about the next big thing, but too much anticipation can lead to unrealistic expectations, disappointment, and poor long-term sales. Game developers are often so enthralled by a game that they promise mechanics far too early, only to realize they won't be able to deliver (The Fable series comes to mind - looking at you, Peter Molyneux).

Sometimes, games are accidentally overhyped. Game development is frustratingly hard to pin down. Many times, the whole development strategy will change midway through the creation of a game, and a third-person adventure game becomes a military first person shooter. So marketing teams sometimes have no idea what they're really selling until development reaches a specific, critical point, and gamers, eager for one thing, feel baited and switched by the other.

But other times, the marketing just goes too far, promising the world and more, aggressively guaranteeing players that a product is going to change lives and reshape the gaming landscape forever. Occasionally, these claims are made by people who've never even played the game.

This list compiles the games that most notoriously worked overtime to get gamers excited, but didn't come close to meeting expectations upon release. These are the video games that became victims of their own hype, judged by history as disappointments whether they were abysmal or not. Vote for the most overhyped games of all time below, if you can handle revisiting dashed expectations.
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page.
1 452 VOTES
Duke Nukem Forever is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype
Photo: via Reddit

You'd expect a game fifteen years in the making to provide something innovative. After Duke Nukem 3D dropped, there was a sense that the next installment would be even more over the top. But it never quite materialized; it became the go-to reference for delayed games. And when it was finally announced after a decade and a half, no one could believe it. Everyone had just assumed that this game was cursed, that it was where developers went to die.

Then, after a publisher roulette, it was announced at PAX 2010. The line to play a demo was four hours long. It was actually happening. 

Then the game arrived to heavy criticism. Clunky controls. Long loading times. Offensive, often sexist humor. Dated game design. Linear map design. Tack on asense that this game was too busy chasing after first-person shooter trends and not actually creating something new, and you've got yourself a thoroughly disappointing game. But could it ever have lived up to fifteen years of expectations? 

More Duke Nukem Forever

#6 of 15 on Most Controversial Video Games That Have Ever Been Released #4 of 14 on The 14 Biggest Flops In Video Game History #10 of 13 on Video Games with the Funniest Achievements #74 of 92 on The Best PS3 First-person Shooter Games

Agree or disagree?
see more on Duke Nukem Forever
2 465 VOTES
Assassin's Creed: Unity
Assassin's Creed: Unity is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype
Photo: via Imgur

Every Assassin's Creed game comes with a ton of hype. Unity was certainly no different. This was the French Revolution! A new era! That's pretty much all you need to create hype in this series: New things to climb, new breathtaking landscapes to see, and new historical figures to assassinate. 

But a weak storyline, a second-screen app that was required to access unlockables, and numerous graphics issues led to mixed reviews for Assassin's Creed: Unity. Ubisoft was smart and said there would be no app with the next game. But tack that onto clunky gameplay and suddenly it seemed like the franchise was running out of steam for the first time. We'll see what happens with the next one. 
Agree or disagree?
The Elder Scrolls Online is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype
Photo: via Pinterest

The Elder Scrolls Online didn't have to do any hyping. The series brought us Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, each game more amazing than the last. And now, we were getting that same treatment but in massively-multiplayer online form. The hype train left the station the moment the game was announced. 

But the game came out buggy and didn't have the depth people were expecting. People forgot that as a developer, Bethseda didn't really do multiplayer and had almost no experience with it. The launch, as expected, had a lot of technical problems. It might be a success financially, but it wasn't the WoW-killer we expected.

More The Elder Scrolls Online

#43 of 201 on The Best Games On Xbox Game Pass #24 of 132 on The Best Games To Play Online #12 of 25 on The Best RPGs on Xbox Game Pass #36 of 105 on The Best Playstation 4 Games Released So Far

Agree or disagree?
see more on The Elder Scrolls Online
4 482 VOTES
Watch Dogs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype
Photo:  Watch Dogs/Ubisoft

Aggressively hyped as the killer game to get for the new consoles, Watch Dogs showed off a number of videos in which random encounters led to incredible and largely improvised action pieces. This was going to make hacking cool once and for all, and it would basically give us the modern-day Assassin's Creed we were looking for. 

Even before launch it started going wrong. First there were the delays, which, for a launch title on a brand new platform, were disconcerting to say the least. Then, upon launch, it went bad quickly. Bugs rendered the game unplayable and downloads didn't work properly. Patches came but already the shine was off the apple - no one was going to look at this game with rose-colored glasses on. 

Sure enough, the story was uninspired, the lead character was catatonically boring, and the campaign was just not worth playing. Many of the other parts of the game were enjoyable enough, and its sales were strong, but after the furor died, people just sort of shrugged when it came to Watch Dogs

More Watch Dogs

#47 of 105 on The Best Playstation 4 Games Released So Far #7 of 21 on The Top Video Games That Couldn't Live Up to Their Hype #15 of 20 on Great Video Game Movies Waiting to Happen #30 of 52 on The Best Playstation 4 Action Games

Agree or disagree?
see more on Watch Dogs