While most games inevitably lose players and die off, some rebound and recapture strong player bases and interest. Here's Game Rant's 8 biggest video game comebacks.
These days, if a video game releases with significant issues or to poor reviews, it doesn’t necessarily spell the end for that game. While the games of previous generations would be quickly forgotten, developers often have opportunities to make up for shortcomings via online updates, free content, and heartfelt apologies distributed via social media.
As we look through the history of gaming, not every failed title has made a comeback. However, there are a few examples of games that not only made a comeback, but have also continued to perform well since their resurrection.
Our team at Game Rant struck out and found some of the most notable comeback titles. Interestingly, many of these games did well at launch, often due to marketing hype and pre-orders. However, each struggled to maintain strong player numbers and eventually faltered, only to be brought back to life. Here are Game Rant’s Top Eight Biggest Video Game Comebacks.
It might surprise people that Pokemon wasn’t always considered a top-tier gaming property. When it was first debuted in Japan, the first Pokemon games, Pokemon Red and Green, experienced modest sales. Sure, the game’s creator, Satoshi Tajiri, was pleased with the opportunity to release his dream creation, but the overall sales weren’t stellar for Nintendo.
That changed, however, once players discovered Mew in the game. That discovery led to a local magazine, CoroCoro announcing a “Legendary Pokemon Offer,” which promised to give Mew to 20 entrants. That contest garnered nearly 80,000 entrants and quickly skyrocketed sales of the Pokemon games. With sales on the rise, Game Freak released Pokemon Blue with improved graphics and sounds, pushing the franchise toward the success gamers now know.
8 Diablo 3
When Blizzard launched Diablo 3, gamers around the world rejoiced at the continuation of the Diablo franchise. Unfortunately for the developer, excitement for Diablo 3 quickly waned once reviews began to surface. For many critics and gamers, Diablo 3 didn’t measure up to expectations set by the first two games in the series. Many of the complaints hinged on the poor gear RNG (random numbers generator), which forced players to grind for hours just for a chance at better gear.
Fast forward three years after Blizzard updated the game with numerous bug fixes, gameplay improvements (including loot drops), and a massive expansion for the title. The result was strong sales and a revival in the player base for Diablo 3. In fact, sales have been so successful that Diablo 3 has climbed its way into the list of top 10 best selling games ever. That’s an impressive feat considering where the game started.
7 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
When Rainbow Six: Siege was first announced, gamer reactions were mixed. While some were excited for the first-person tactical shooter, many saw the title as a Call of Duty copy-cat that differed too much from the earlier titles in the series. Sales were initially strong for the game, but the player base quickly faded away due to numerous connection issues and bugs that plagued the game.
Ubisoft reacted by making many much-needed adjustments and balances to the game during its first year. The end result was a well-balanced shooter that saw a rise in players and interest. Thanks to the developer releasing a steady stream of new free maps and paid DLC, gamers had fresh content available to enjoy in the game. That coupled with Rainbow Six: Siege’s position as a potential candidate for competitive gaming has helped the once written-off title become a major player in the first-person shooter genre.
When players think of failed games, Destiny surely doesn’t come to mind, and quite frankly it shouldn’t. Destiny released to overwhelming praise, with impressive sales numbers around the globe. However, after the release of the game’s first few DLCs, many gamers and critics began to wonder about the title’s longevity. Once touted as a multi-year title, it seemed Destiny would whither away after its first year.
Developer Bungie heard the feedback and implemented numerous positive changes when it released Destiny’s fourth expansion, The Taken King. In fact, Bungie promoted The Taken King as more than just a simple DLC pack. Rather, The Taken King would bring a complete overhaul to Destiny that would make it worth playing for years to come. The Taken King undoubtedly sparked new life into Destiny, and with the help of last year’s major April update, has helped reclaim a healthy player base for the sci-fi shooter.
5 GTA Online
When Rockstar Games first announced GTA Online, there was a collective round of applause within the gaming world. Finally, gamers would have the opportunity to enjoy the incredible, immersive world of Grand Theft Auto with their friends. But unfortunately, the amazing idea struggled at launch, with GTA Online experiencing server issues and numerous bugs. The problems with GTA Online drove many gamers to other titles, leaving a gaping hole of disappointment in Rockstar’s prized creation.
Like other developers mentioned in this list, Rockstar opted to make improvements and corrections, rather than abandon its title. The result has been tremendous. Over the last few years, Grand Theft Auto 5 has been one of the best selling titles every month and year in nearly every region of the world. Despite the constant stream of new game releases, Grand Theft Auto 5 (which allows players to access GTA Online) continues to make stellar sales. Thanks to a constant stream of new updates, content, events, and features within GTA Online, there’s little doubt Rockstar’s flagship title will continue to perform well and maintain an impressive player base.
4 Tom Clancy’s The Division
For years, gamers looked to The Division as the “Destiny killer.” The open-world, cover-based shooter looked to shake up the gaming world to deliver a unique environment and player experience that would last for years. Excitement was so great that upon release, The Division became Ubisoft’s best-selling new IP with little trouble. That all changed, however, once players reached the end game and discovered the numerous problems contained within The Division.
Unfortunately for Ubisoft and developer Massive, those problems continued through the release of multiple updates and the first major expansion. Players left in droves for other titles, including Destiny, which was in the middle of its impressive comeback. The rough patch led to Massive holding off additional expansion in an effort to fix the game and revitalize the player base. The move worked, and with the release of its 1.4 patch, The Division was able to successfully call back thousands of players, giving them a reason to once again enjoy the post-apocalyptic destruction of New York City.
3 World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft has been the most successful massive multiplayer online (MMO) title in history, making billions of dollars for Blizzard and Activision. Since its release over a decade ago, the game has set the standard and continues to dominate the MMO genre. But, as one would expect from a game with so much life, players eventually lost interest and began abandoning the game.
Blizzard attempted many tactics to reclaim lost players and entice new ones, but it wasn’t until the release of Legion that the game made a comeback. Before the release of Legion, World of Warcraft had at one time sported 12 million players. That number had declined steadily to around five million in late 2015. At the time, many critics saw this as the beginning of the end for World of Warcraft. Then Blizzard released Legion, which successfully pushed player numbers back to over 10 million by late 2016, breathing new life into World of Warcraft.
2 Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Who could have predicted that Counter Strike: Global Offensive (or as it’s better known, CS:GO) would be as successful a title as it is now. The first-person shooter doesn’t sport the most impressive graphics or variety of gameplay by any stretch. In fact, the game looks like it's still stuck in the early 2000s when Counter Strike was first launched as a mod for Half Life.
CS:GO experienced a rocky start when it was released in 2012, but that didn’t stop Valve from working to improve the title and provide new features. Over the course of a couple years and after many fixes and updates, CS:GO began to grow in popularity. That popularity led to the explosion of CS:GO as one of the most well-known competitive gaming titles, and prompted the addition of in-game alterations, such as weapon skins. Together, these changes and additions have driven CS:GO to nearly 500,000 concurrent players and almost one million peak players over the last month, a stat that has risen steady since 2014.
1 Other Impressive Comebacks
There are undoubtedly many other titles that would fit well in this list. What games do you think should be included? Let us know your picks for top comeback games in the comments below.