2013 was unquestionably a great year for gaming, which saw the release of dozens of remarkable, unique, and amazing games, along with the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One. But, like most industries, there are bound to be failures, and 2013 was no different for the gaming industry. From truly atrocious games to media personalities losing their cool, here are 2013’s 10 biggest mistakes:
10. Back In My Day, Game Of The Year Used To Mean Something, Man!
Let’s set the record straight; Game of the Year editions aren’t the product of games that actually win Game of the Year awards (yes, some people do believe this). And, yes, they are largely produced so publishers can make MORE money off of you. But in some instances, they can be a good deal, especially for patient gamers who didn’t get around to playing the games and for those who want all the content on a physical disc. But Gearbox’s Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition was a little…well, insulting to consumers. It released over a year after the initial version of the game with a plethora of DLC content…but not all of it. Coupled with the fact that the game still had DLC slated to be released, and the game sold at the full price of $60, gamers were a little disappointed. But at least the box art wasn’t as bad as Arkham City’s Game of the Year Edition!
9. The Wii U Is “Doomed”
Gaming journalism certainly has a number of faults and in 2013 one of the biggest ones was the gaming media’s constant belief that Nintendo was on the brink of financial trouble because of the Wii U’s poor sales through most of the year 2013, with gaming analyst Michael Pachter (who, for some reason, people continue to reference as if his predictions mean anything) stating the Wii U was “doomed.” And, to be fair, the Wii U’s sales were poor because, well, THERE WERE NO PREMIERE WII U GAMES FOR MOST OF 2013 (no, I am not counting LEGO City: Undercover!). But the amount of negativity surrounding Nintendo’s future was astounding. Especially considering that, even with the Wii U’s poor sales, the 3DS, once again, dominated the charts and is essentially printing money for Nintendo. Sales increased (surprise!) with the release Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and Super Mario 3D World and with Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart looming on the horizon in 2014, Nintendo’s downfall doesn’t seem close.
8. Lackluster Launch Titles
Launch titles have the reputation of being, well, crappy. Sure, there might occasionally be classics that are launched with the systems like Mario 64 or Halo, but most console’s offering of games are incredibly weak at launch. The release of the PS4 and Xbox One were no different. The PS4’s Killzone Shadow Fall and Knack released to underwhelming critical reception, especially Knack, which was panned for its clichéd story and characters and incredibly monotonous gameplay. Killzone fared better in the eyes’ of critics, but still was viewed to be nothing more than an amazing technical display of the PS4’s power with not much else to offer. The Xbox One presented a little more variety with Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, and Ryse: Son of Rome but their critical receptions weren’t anything spectacular. Both systems have plenty of quality releases slated for 2014, but given how long the previous generation of consoles lasted, it is certainly surprising both Sony and Microsoft couldn’t release anything special.
This could easily be higher on the list, but frankly I feel like the Ouya is the redheaded stepchild of the console market and feel kind of bad for it. The Ouya essentially set itself up for its own failure from the very beginning, promising far too much than the tiny little box could deliver. It promised free access to an expansive library of games, streaming TV services, and easy customization in case you wanted to “hack” your console. The console was the buzz of the gaming industry for the better part of 2013, largely in part because it received over $8.5 million via Kickstarter. High expectations for an under powered console funded entirely with money from crowd sourcing? What could go wrong? Turns out, everything, as many of the services were bare bones or didn’t work properly, the library of games was laughable (which is ridiculous to say, because Amazing Frogs is awesome! Right, everyone?! RIGHT?!), developers didn’t embrace it, and even the most supportive backers were immediately disappointed.
6. Aliens: Colonial Marines
Exaggeration is a natural process of promoting and hyping your game (just ask Peter Molyneux!). But in some instances, developers have straight out lied about their game, usually in the form of a gameplay video. Killzone 2’s draw dropping visuals in its 2005 E3 presentation were vastly different from the final product, and Bungie admitted Halo 2’s 2003 E3 presentation “smoke and mirrors.” But perhaps the greatest offender is Aliens: Colonial Marines. First shown at E3 in 2012, the gameplay seemed solid, and the environment was immersive, creepy, and true to the Aliens’ universe. Can you guess what the end result was? Here’s a hint: Colonial Marines certainly won’t be getting a Game of the Year Edition any time soon. Gameplay contrasted starkly with the E3 video, environments were bland, and the gameplay was beyond subpar. And there were glitches (albeit, hilarious ones) that made the game almost impossible to play or take seriously. In every sense, the game was broken.
5. Phil Fish Is Kind Of A Jerk
Who says all Canadians are nice? Phil Fish gained celebrity status after the release of Indie Game: The Movie, which helped the release of his game, Fez. The game received universal acclaim on both the PC and consoles, but Fish eventually became quickly known as, well, a bit of a misanthrope. He never sugar coated words and was incredibly inflammatory and confrontational. Furthermore, not realizing that, shockingly, people can be mean on the internet, he engaged in several arguments with fans and members of the gaming media via his Twitter account. The biggest one, however, came in mid-2013 when Fish was involved in a particularly nasty argument on Twitter with Gametrailers’ Marcus Beer, in which Fish told Beer to kill himself. Fish then unexpectedly announced he was done with the industry, and cancelled Fez II, stating he was tired of being mistreated by the media. In this day and age, perhaps Phil should understand criticism is just a part of any industry, but it also helps when you aren’t a pretentious jerk.
4. EA’s SimCity Launch
Here’s a piece of advice; if you want to post something on any major gaming forum and receive a lot of support(especially Reddit), just post something negative about EA, because, well, they are apparently worse than Hitler! EA has been the subject of much of the gaming community’s vitriol in the past couple years (some of it justified, some of it not so much), but perhaps the worst public outcry game this year in EA’s incredible mishandling of the release of SimCity. EA not only made it a requirement to play the game online (because requiring online connection for a single player simulation game totally makes sense), but their servers were woefully unprepared for the game’s launch, resulting in the game being unplayable for hundreds of thousands of consumers. EA Customer Support was, to no one’s surprise, non-existent and unhelpful. EA issued a number of apology statements to alleviate the situation, but did little to change the initial situation, because, shockingly, EA was happy with the ridiculous amount of money they made off of the sales of SimCity. And if a lot of people buy something, nothing must be wrong with it, right?
3. Ride to Hell: Retribution
Remember how bad and disappointing I said Aliens: Colonial Marines was? It wasn’t even the worst game of the year. Like, not even close. Ride to Hell: Retribution didn’t have that high of expectations to meet but, regardless, it managed to shatter even the lowest expectations, and the end result was a game that will likely be held in the same regard as games like Superman 64 and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The game attempts to tell the story of a returning Vietnam veteran and his subsequent involvement with a biker gang after they murder his brother. “Attempts” is the keyword of that statement, as the game fails on every level of storytelling, gameplay, voice acting, and visual display. Textures weren’t completely rendered, there were glitches galore, and while good graphics certainly don’t automatically make a good game, the graphics and facial animations were on the level of games released in 2005. The game might very well achieve cult status for being so horrendously bad, but it is unquestionably one of the biggest disasters of 2013 and should have never seen the light of day.
2. Don Mattrick’s Meltdown
Sssshhh, Don. Sometimes less is more. We understand it can be frustrating when consumers might not understand your vision, but sometimes you just have to learn to keep your mouth shut. Upon unveiling Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox One, and its controversial policies surrounding used games, game sharing, and always-on DRM (want to take a guess at what is going to be number one on this list!?), Mattrick did not handle criticism well, saying consumers who had concerns about the Xbox One’s always-on internet connection could just buy the Xbox 360. The internet, not surprisingly, exploded in a sea of outrage, and crucified Microsoft and Mattrick. Within two months of first showing the console, Mattrick announced he was leaving Microsoft to take over as the CEO of totally not morally corrupt powerhouse gaming company Zygna. I’m sure he’ll turn things around in no time!
1. Microsoft’s Xbox One Fiasco
Regardless if you actually pick a side in the “console wars,” Microsoft’s handling of their unveiling of the Xbox One was an unmitigated disaster. Its initial reveal went well enough, and showed off the console’s new and unique multi-media features. But news eventually began to surface about the console always requiring an internet connection, blocking used games, and that the Kinect camera could spy on you (because it was totally Microsoft’s grand plan to spy on gamers while they lounged around in their underwear).To be fair, the gaming press jumped at every opportunity to vilify Microsoft and every gaming forum did the same (looking at you, Reddit). But what made everything worse was Microsoft’s complete mismanagement of the entire situation. Certain employees and officials gave conflicting information to the press and Microsoft did an absolutely horrendous job of explaining and clarifying their policies to the public. The end result was roughly two months of negative press, which in turn resulted in Sony using the situation to their advantage to promote the PS4. Microsoft eventually backed off on all the policies, and the Xbox One has sold over 3 million units worldwide within its first month and a half of release, but one can only wonder what could have been had Microsoft not shot itself in the foot.