The current games industry sentiment is on the whole optimistic, with spectacular figures in the mobile, console and pc markets. It is important to remember that the history of the industry has had some spectacular failures, games that didn't deliver and in many instances killed the company that gave birth to them, each delivering a valuable lesson:
Lesson: It doesn’t matter how great a game if you can’t actually play.
Laze was a title hyped by Sony and the developer Factor 5 as the game that would show just what the PS3 was capable of, but the reception
to the title upon release was abysmal. It was torpedoed for having a terrible control and targeting system, with an awful player camera focus not helping either. The lack of sales coupled with the halt in funding by their publisher Brash Entertainment, let to their closure
in May 2009.
Lesson: Putting all your financial assets into one game with publication delays means financial ruin.
Riding the critical success of Time splitters 2, Free Radical invested hugely in their own propriety engine developing Haze, a game set initially for release on multiple platforms in 2007. It was then announced it would be exclusive to the PS3, and the release date pushed back again until 2008. There was an absurd amount of hype for Haze, some calling it the 'Halo Killer', but upon release it tanked
, with an incredible amount of game glitches and a tiny single player campaign. Very soon after, the company went into administration, with only 40 out of the 185 staff members remaining, until Crytek acquired control
Lesson: Blatantly ignoring your subscriber base by changing a game to draw casual players is to risk losing everything.
Star Wars Galaxies:
Initially well received, the core grind element of the game quickly became apparent, with the first player to unlock the core Jedi character choice only 4 months after the game release. This established a community of a particular nature, who worked extremely hard in creating characters, but was soon outraged
by the 'New Game Enhancements' patch in 2005, which reduced the difficulty and made sweeping changes to the progression and difficulty of the game. This caused a massive uproar, which led to a swift decline in player status, and resulted, alongside competition from the new Star Wars The Old Republic, in the closure of the game in 2011.
Lesson: If the hype exceeds the reality, no one will buy it.
There's not much more I can say for a game that has received so much criticism
from players around the world. Plagued by constant delays, it was a game upon release that looked ancient next to its rivals, cumbersome in control and gameplay, and burdened by a murky storyline and crippling player mechanics. It forever cost John Romero his status within the industry as a whole.
Lesson: It doesn’t matter how financially hot an I.P is if the game sucks.
Labelled as one of the primary causes for the great videogame crash
in the 80's, it was the worst failure in the history of the video game industry. Not to mention the landfill debacle
, where reports have stated over a million copies of the games cartridges were crushed into cement and buried in Texas, due to insufficient space for the million or more copies of the game returned by retail stores to the company. It eventually lead to the dismantling and piecemeal sale of this once great game company.
Douglas Stewart is a staff writer at iQU. When he is not writing, he devours books, plays an excessive amount of games, and is working on his upcoming fiction novel that (naturally) involves intersections between technology, gaming and society. Follow Douglas @TheGearCog