The last decade saw huge innovations sweep the gaming world, from the refinement of VR to the pioneering of cloud gaming services. However, not every release was an instant success. The decade was also filled with missteps and blunders from some of the biggest names in gaming, and it appears no developer was immune to fan ire. Delays, microtransactions, and buggy gameplay drove gamers to the brink on numerous occasions, with massive social media backlash forcing some developers to apologize for their games.
Here are the gaming mistakes that defined the decade, the ones that future developers will look at when navigating the storms of controversies to come. Witness the blunders that nearly toppled studios and tarnished the names of beloved franchises.
The Fallout series holds a special place in many gamers' hearts, even with the controversies that tend to come with it. No other game in the series met the intense backlash that Fallout 76 suffered, however. In the latest installment, developer Bethesda decided to eschew the typical single-player format to make the game completely multiplayer. This was a controversial decision from the start, as Fallout games are, famously, single-player experiences. To make matters worse, the game was waterlogged by tons of bugs upon release. The reception was so bad there was at least one class-action lawsuit filed; it aimed to procure refunds for dissatisfied customers.
Another note that soured fans was the "Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition" that cost $200 and did not include everything that was advertised. For one, the set claimed to come with a Fallout-branded canvas bag. When players finally got the game, they found out the bag had been downgraded to cheap nylon without any notice.
The Disney era of Star Wars has been controversial to say the least, but no fan backlash has been as unanimous as the reaction to Star Wars Battlefront II. With the introduction of a pay-to-play lootbox system, the internet lost its collective mind upon release. Classic characters like Darth Vader were locked from play, and you would either have to pay real-world money or grind an ungodly number of hours to unlock them. The situation was so bad that it was largely responsible for EA's stock dropping by 8.5% after release, roughly $3 billion dollars in value. Even the United States government and European Union took notice of the lootbox fiasco, leading to talks of increased regulation of gambling in video games.
The good news is the game has been totally revamped from its blunderous launch in 2017. DICE, the studio behind the recent Battlefront games, stayed committed to its live-service promise and quickly responded to fans by removing the lootbox system and overhauling the progression system. Since then, there has been tons of new content added to the game, including new planets, heroes, reinforcements, and more. It appears Battlefront II has been given a second life, which shows the power of listening to your fan base.
Duke Nukem Forever was announced in 1997 and released in 2011, a full 15 years after its beloved predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D. The story of its production is as rough as the game itself, and that's saying something. Duke Nukem Forever was developed by 3D Realms, where a team worked on various versions for 12 years. George Broussard, co-owner of 3D Realms, was said to be constantly dissatisfied with the limits technology put on his grand vision, so the team rebooted the project multiple times on different engines. Setback after setback delayed production, until 3D Realms eventually collapsed from a lack of funds.
After all the hype and drama that surrounded its development, Duke Nukem Forever was released with more of a whimper than a bang. The game got middling reviews, with reviewers emphasizing the lack of innovation in gameplay and overly crude humor. Ultimately, Duke Nukem Forever was too little, too late.
Unlike the 2009 Ghostbusters: The Video Game that was generally well reviewed, Ghostbusters (2016) was as controversial as the film reboot it was based on. The game allows you to play as one of four new Ghostbusters in an original adventure set after the film.
One sign the game would not be of the highest quality was the fact that the main actors from the film didn't voice any characters. The game was mocked for being unfunny and bland, but it's likely the negative reception meant this game was doomed from the start.