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Games That Just Didn't Live Up to Their Hype

Updated October 16, 2020 7.9k votes 1.3k voters 69.3k views28 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.

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.

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  • Haze was supposed to be the supreme Halo-killer. Ubisoft was gunning for the top FPS spot, and they bet big on Free Radical Design to come through with this Apocalypse Now-inspired franchise opener. They hired even Korn to make a song for the game.

    It was not a Halo-killer. It killed nothing but the desire to play Haze. Critics called it shallow and uninspired. It died quietly and you, along with everyone else, probably forgot it existed until this very moment. 

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  • 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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  • When people praise your first game for its amazing snowy world, maybe don't place your sequel in a tropical world? The shift was far too jarring for gamers. The first game was beloved for a unique setting unlike any other, so when the second game was announced, people were ready to have more of that, hopefully with improved mechanics and just more game in the game.  

    They didn't want a complete pivot to a new planet that looked and felt nothing like the original. That's not all, either, because design and interface issues led to many a frustrated gamer smashing their controller to smithereens.

     

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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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