Let us remember the biggest gaming mistakes of 2013.
2013. A year full of great games and great consoles. It’s also home to numerous flops, screw-ups, and all-around face-palm worthy moments. Let us forget about all the great times of this past year and put our cynical caps on for the next ten minutes – it is time to celebrate the top 10 screw-ups of 2013 (complete with terrible puns)!
Before we get to our main list, let’s take a look at some dishonorable mentions:
EA’s Unprecedented Fartnership – At E3 2012, Electronic Arts promised continuous on-going support for the Wii U. In 2013, the partnership was over.
Ellen Pages Her Lawyer – Ellen Page did not like how “Ellie” in The Last of Us looked like her because she was starring in a different game Beyond: Two Souls. Later, a nude model of Page was discovered in Two Souls’ code.
Not-So-Trendy Entertainment – Kotaku reported that Trendy Entertainment’s office environment was toxic, sexist, and overworked. President Jeremy Stieglitz was blamed, and he later stepped down from the project.
VGWrecks – Gamers expected the annual video game award show to be full of surprises and delights, and, to be fair, it was… surprisingly offensive and delightfully bad.
No More Children In Hell – The survival horror game No More Room In Hell allows player to kill zombie children, a fact that brought many Steam users up a storm regarding the morality of killing children, even if they are already dead.
Uplay Pa$$port – Even after EA pulled its online pass policy earlier this year, Ubisoft still thought it was a great idea to include it into Assassin’s Creed IV, which caused so many problems that they had to pull the feature from all future products.
Wii Who? – Aside from Monster Hunter and Lego City, the first six months of this year was a barren wasteland for the Wii U, begging the question of whether or not Nintendo was actually making games these past two years.
Ouya Owe’s Ya – After Ouya promised to fund Ouya timed-exclusives that reached $50,000 on Kickstarter, numerous developers were allegedly abusing the system by funding their own games, which kind of ruins the point…
Failing Fantasy: All the Hate-est – If a game is defined as an interactive screensaver with expensive in-app purchases that don’t have any practical value, then Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is a game. Otherwise, it is not.
Failing Fantasty Four-Fiend – If a game is defined as a broken online-experience that requires you to pay a monthly subscription fee even after it was clear the game was uplayable… come on, Square, how could you not foresee this happening?
Are you depressed yet? No? Do not fear, the top ten biggest gaming screw-ups of the gaming of 2013 is just about to get started!
10. Cynical Ticked
On October 18, Wild Games Studio, the developer behind Day One: Garry’s Incident, placed a copyright claim on one of TotalBiscuit “The Cynical Brit’s” YouTube commentary videos. Upset by the matter, TotalBiscuit created a new video lashing out at the company, stating that they placed the claim due only to the fact that he was being negative about their game as well as accusing them of cheating themselves through Kickstarter and posting numerous fake user reviews on Metacritic. On Steam, the developer purposefully censored all conversation about the controversy, stating that “TotalBiscuit has no right to make advertising revenue with our license.” Eventually, Wild Games Studio apologized and pulled the claim from TotalBiscuit’s video, but not without raising concerns over copyright policies on both YouTube and Steam.
9. Dragon’s Frown
On April 12, Kotaku published an article criticizing Dragon’s Crown’s art direction, particularly the fact that all the females had exaggerated features. In response, president of Vanillaware George Kamitani posted a picture of three burly dwarves hugging each other on Facebook with the caption “It seems that Mr. Jason Schreier of Kotaku is pleased also with neither sorceress nor amazon. The art of the direction which he likes was prepared.” The picture was seen by both gamers and members of the press as homophobic, which led to Kamitani apologizing to Kotaku stating that “[w]hile the picture of the dwarfs was meant to be a lighthearted joke, after it became bigger than I thought it would, I reflected on the rashness of it. I am sorry. I have no hard feelings about the article.”
8. Grand Theft No-No
One of the few complaints critics had of Grand Theft Auto V was that it gave the player some strange moral choices. For example, one scene forces the player to go through a torture scene with another man, which sparked much controversy over what subjects should and should not be allowed in video games. But that was not even the most shocking reaction towards the game; when GameSpot’s Carolyn Petit called the game “profoundly misogynistic” (and let us be honest here, she is sort of right), she immediately received death threats from her readers and an online petition arguing that she should be fired from the industry, despite giving the game a “superb” 9/10 score. And people wonder why there are not more female journalists in the games industry.
7. Nintendo No-Show
On April 24, when Nintendo announced at their financial briefing that they were going to forego the traditional E3 press conference and instead do an online presentation via Nintendo Direct people began scratching their heads. Was this Nintendo’s white flag of defeat? Were they not confident in the games they had to show? As time went on, people began to calm down; after all, it is still an E3 press conference, just without the visual flares of a traditional sound stage. But when June 11th came around, Nintendo’s UStream channel was met with some extreme technical difficulties and an overall sense of disappointment due to the lack of exciting announcements. It seemed that Nintendo’s great idea was not all that great after all, even to Nintendo fans like me.
6. Delayman Legends
They say the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown, and that is exactly what happened to Ubisoft on February 7 when they delayed the previously Wii U exclusive Rayman Legends just weeks before its scheduled release. Not only was the game delayed by over nine months, but it also went multiplatform, a fact that angered many fans, especially when the Wii U version was purportedly complete. Why did Ubisoft delay the game? They feared low sales due to the Wii U’s small install base. Did the delay pay off? No; if anything, it hurt Ubisoft. Because the game was now going up against giants like Grand Theft Auto V and Pokemon, Rayman Legends sold only 340,000 units for all platforms (130,000 on Wii U). By comparison, the two Wii U exlusives released in the time frame of Rayman Legends’ original release date (Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Lego City: Undercover) sold 440,000 and 550,000 units respectively. (Above: Ubisoft Montpelier protests the publisher’s decision to delay Rayman Legends.)
5. Done Is Dyack
On May 6, a company called Precursor Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for their game Shadow of the Eternals, a spiritual successor to cult GameCube classic Eternal Darkness. There was only one problem with this campaign however: it was headed by Denis Dyack, the former president of Silicon Knights who drove the company into bankruptcy due to poor management, specifically on a title called X-Men Destiny. The company originally asked for an outstanding sum of $1,350,000 for the project, later cancelling the campaign due to “new, exciting opportunities.” Weeks later, the Kickstarter was restarted, but not before controversy arose surrounding Dyack’s role in development as well as one of the game’s designers being arrested for pornography. Despite its initial hype, the second Kickstarter failed, and the game was put on indefinite hold.
4. Phil-et O’ Fish
Phil Fish has always been known for his outspoken yet abrasive attitude, an aspect of his personality that he constantly receives harsh criticism for. But on July 29, he finally had enough. After GameTrailers aired its most recent Invisible Walls video podcast in which journalist Marcus Beer called Fish a “hipster asshole,” Fish announced that he would be quitting the industry once and for all, effectively cancelling all of his projects, including the highly anticipated puzzle platformer FEZ II. The controversy raised many issues including developer abuse and journalist rights, but in the end we can all agree that it was a childish altercation on both ends of the chain.
On March 5, Electronic Arts released a game called SimCity on PC. The game itself was controversial for forcing players to stay online whilst playing a game that did not really use any online features at all, but what is worse is that EA’s servers crashed almost immediately upon release, and would remain so for several months. Glitches, game crashes, and loss of game data was reported throughout the SimCity community, that is if you could get on the servers in the first place. The launch was so disastrous that Amazon had to pull the game from its marketplace and EA gave away free games for those affected. Despite all this, however, SimCity was a commercial success, despite its garbage of a launch.
2. aLIEns: Colonial Marines
A game with many names and many delays, it seemed as if Aliens: Colonial Marines would never see release. And when it actually came out on February 12, most of us probably wished it had stayed that way. A broken, glitchy, and ultimately half-*ssed release, Aliens: Colonial Marines was a critical failure for Gearbox Software – that is, assuming they even made the game. Just weeks prior to the game’s release, an anonymous whistleblower claimed to several media outlets that funding for the game was being put towards a different Gearbox title Borderlands 2 while much of Aliens was being outsourced to another company called TimeGate Studios. And to top it all off, the final product ended up looking nothing like the screenshots and trailers shown at various trade shows prior to the game’s release. Can we even trust game developers anymore? That was the question asked after this whole Aliens debacle, which ended with Gearbox cancelling the Wii U version of the game just days after it was released on other platforms.
Alas, the biggest one of them all. Surely, we cannot forget the great Xbox One debacle, right? It all began on May 21, when Microsoft officially unveiled its new console with near universal disapproval. From its always-online DRM to its anti-used games policy to forced Kinect integration and beyond, the Xbox One reveal was a disaster, despite some cool things being announced like cloud computing and whatnot. Some people, however, remained positive, stating that in just a few weeks Microsoft would explain most of these issues to the crowd and show off what the Xbox One was really about. But after a bunch of talk about “TV” and an unscripted(?) rape joke or two, no one was defending the Xbox One, especially after Sony specifically attacked it in their E3 press conference. And you’d expect Microsoft to say something about this, right? You would expect them to clarify as many things as they could and to reassure gamers that this indeed was the best direction to take. But no, some knucklehead at Microsoft (Adam Orth) decided that the best way to deal with this situation is to tell the gamers to just “deal with it.” Xbox One was a failure inside and out, and no one in the company seemed to know what the hell they were doing. It was a good thing, then, that on June 19 Microsoft president of interactive entertainment Don Mattrick officially announced the removal of its DRM along with all its problems and issues from the Xbox ecosystem. Otherwise, who knows where the Xbox One would end up?
I remind of you of these stories not because I want you to feel down on the industry, but because the best way we learn is from our mistakes. When we remember 2013, ultimately it will be about games like The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. But indeed we should never forget the controversies such as the Aliens debacle and the Xbox One disaster, so that one day we can look back and ensure that we do not make the same missteps again. 2013 may be a year of many mishaps, but it is also the year of a brand new generation, a new branch of hope that will one day reach its fruition. It is the year that we will forever celebrate, despite its wrongdoings.
Which controversy was most significant to you? Is there anything you would add to this list? Sound off in the comments below!