With the rising cost of development, buying games these days doesn’t come cheap. So with the average video game blockbuster costing around $60 (more if you shelled out for a limited or collector’s edition), it’s not unreasonable for gamers to expect a good experience or, at the very least, a game that works at launch.
In the last few years, however, games that are broken at launch seem to be a regular occurrence, especially in the last 18 months. Moreover, this trend has raised questions about whether gamers should still pre-order titles ahead of time and if the early announcement of release dates is to blame. Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing when a game that fans have been waiting for just doesn’t work as intended; here’s a list of some of the worst offenders for terrible launch states:
1. Diablo 3
With Diablo 2 having been released all the way back in 2000, action RPG fans had been waiting for Diablo 3 with feverish excitement. So it was of little surprise that when the game released in 2012, it set a new record for the fastest selling PC game ever, with over 3.5 million copies sold in 24 hours. It was just a shame that only a small number could actually play it.
Some players stated that they got loading screens that wouldn’t go away, others said that their errors showed up during character creation, and many reported difficulties connecting to their accounts. Things got so bad, in fact, that Activision took Diablo 3‘s servers down several times to fix the problem, which created a bigger headache for players.
In SimCity, the player’s goal is to create a harmonious environment for the population. Players can build all sorts of different buildings and locations and they can also help the city survive natural disasters – or put them through disasters on purpose. It was a little ironic then, that one disaster SimCity couldn’t get itself through was its own server trouble.
Like Diablo 3, SimCity was designed to be ‘always online,’ so it was bad news when players found themselves unable to connect to the servers and actually play the game. This persisted for several days and EA was forced to disable several gameplay features (including leaderboards and achievements) to fix thing, but even then, some noted that there were other issues with the game.
3. Batman: Arkham Knight
Billed as an explosive finale to Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham trilogy, Batman: Arkham Knight has been making the headlines for all of the wrong reasons these past few weeks. The game worked fine on consoles, but on PC it was an entirely different story. Immediately upon launch, PC Arkham Knight players began to report huge framerate issues that persisted whenever Batman moved.
Warner Bros. did pull the game from sale, following heavy backlash and negative reviews, and players were also offered refunds, but the damage was already done. Damage which got remarkably worse when sources revealed that the publisher knew about the PC version’s issues before the game was out, but decided to release it anyway. Since the controversy hit, Warner Bros. and Rocksteady have vowed to fix the problem, but almost a month after launch and that hasn’t happened yet.
4. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition was the game that would hopefully right the wrongs of Dragon Age 2 and its much-criticized combat system. Unfortunately, the game didn’t quite do that at launch and instead gave Dragon Age fans more to be angry about.
On PS4, many Inquisition players reported that the game would suddenly freeze during play. The PS4’s 2.0 update was apparently to blame and thankfully Sony did release a firmware patch which seemed to do the trick, but not before some players had already lost their progress.
On PC, meanwhile, many players couldn’t even get that far. On EA’s support forums, over 700 people said that they’d had problems with getting the game to launch as instead of launching, it would just provide them with an empty black box that crashed and sent them back to their desktop.
5. Grand Theft Auto Online
Grand Theft Auto V broke sales records and in the process cemented itself in history as one of the most popular games of all time. But while the single player component for the game launched with little issue, the multiplayer mode fell apart quickly.
As millions of players tried to get online, the games servers were quickly overwhelmed. Many people couldn’t log in, some couldn’t even get to the character creation stage, and a few found issues with activities such as jobs and races.
Rockstar did promise a (virtual) $500,000 stimulus package as an apology for the game’s technical issues but given that players had been waiting almost a month for GTA Online to get it together, not everyone was willing to let the company off the hook.
Driveclub was hit with multiple delays before it was released in October 2014 and as a result it’s easy to forget that the game originally announced as a PS4 launch title. So with almost 11 extra months in the oven, was Evolution’s PS4 exclusive a hit? As a single player game, yes, it succeeded. The multiplayer component, however, was a complete tragedy.
The game’s servers were rocked by demand, meaning that gamers were unable to group into their racing clubs (which was a key selling point of the game) and participate in racts. The game also began to operate on a one in, one out basis, giving players a waitlist for multiplayer sessions. We also would be remiss if we didn’t mention the PlayStation Plus version of the game, which also delayed for several months, and was finally released in June.
7. Battlefield 4
Battlefield 3 was EA’s fastest selling game ever, and the publisher must have been keen to follow up that success with Battlefield 4. Sadly, the first person shooter had the opposite effect, sending EA’s stock prices downward and making them the subject of several lawsuits.
The game’s main problems were in multiplayer, with many reporting the experience as unplayable. EA boss Andrew Wilson blamed it on the game’s huge maps, its 64-player multiplayer, and a new feature called ‘Levolution’. Wilson also called the launch “unacceptable” and developer DICE proceeded to put DLC on the backburner so that they could tend to it.
8. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
The Halo series has been a staple of the Xbox console ever since Microsoft first unveiled the brand more than a decade ago. Most gamers have fond memories of those original Bungie games, and so they wanted to re-experience that nostalgia with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Unfortunately, players would have a hard time getting into that multiplayer, as The Master Chief Collection‘s matchmaking has been notoriously terrible. Players were unable to get into matches – sometimes having to wait for hours – and although a patch was released following the game’s release, it took more than a dozen patches to solve the problem once and for all.
9. Assassin’s Creed Unity
Typical criticisms of the Assassin’s Creed franchise include a lack of unique objectives and gameplay that only consists of clearing map markers. So when Assassin’s Creed Unity launched late last year, what fans didn’t expect to see was a game that regularly dropped its framerates, server connections that stopped them from opening loot chests, and characters whose faces fell off mid-conversation or even mid-kiss.
As an open world game, some issues were expected but many players agreed that these were unacceptable. Plus, they were following on from other Unity controversies including its lack of playable female characters, a decreased framerate on consoles, and Ubisoft’s decision to include microtransactions.
Ubisoft did eventually fix the game with a couple of patches and the publisher also offered free DLC. However, given that one of these patches actually broke the game even more on Xbox One and accepting the free DLC meant that players waived their right to take the company to court, not everyone was best pleased by their efforts.
Skyrim is another game that was expected to have some bugs. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 weren’t exactly creaking yet, but the game is big and beautiful and it operated under the idea that ‘if a player can see it, they can go to it’.
But playing the game, and exploring its supernatural lands proved to be quite difficult for PS3 players. This was down to an issue in which the game’s cache quickly fills up after just one hour of playtime. The longer someone plays Skyrim on PS3, the more that will fill up and the more the game will slow down.
Bethesda did know about the bug, but it’s one that they thought that they had fixed prior to the game’s launch. Thankfully, it was fixed once and for all with a post-launch patch, but not before causing a lot of headaches.
Did you encounter problems with any games on this list? Do you think there are too many broken games these days? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.