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Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype

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.

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.

  • 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. Dated game design. Linear map design. Tack on a sense 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? 

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  • 2
    298 VOTES

    Assassin's Creed: Unity

    Assassin's Creed: Unity
    Photo: Ubisoft

    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.  

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  • 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.

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  • 4
    456 VOTES

    With a massively-multiplayer "shared world," it was meant to be the MMO shooter game we've been waiting for. Open world. Some RPG elements. A whole universe that would take a life of its own, leading you, the players, to shape the course of this game's existence. 

    But oh boy, that grind. When you have an MMO and it becomes common to use exploits in your game just to get to a level just to play the content you want to play, developers might want to rethink their progression strategy. For anyone interested in playing a story campaign, forget it. Multiplayer communication wasn't particularly cohesive, either. 

    Despite all that, Destiny has made a lot of money. It was seriously overhyped, but Bungie is prepared to push forward with this new IP regardless of whether the actual gameplay lives up to expectations.

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