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Ten of the Biggest Gaming Failures, Controversies, and Catastrophes of 2013

FEATURE | ? Comments |

Author: Nicholas Greene  

The year of 2013 has finally drawn to a close, and we’re now well into the second week of 2014. Everyone’s still keeping to their New Years’ Resolutions, swearing to themselves that this time things will be different and they won’t have forgotten what they originally set out to do. 2013 is still fresh in all our minds, with all its triumphs, trials, and tribulations.
That makes this basically the perfect time to take a look back at some of the biggest victories and catastrophes that rocked the games industry in 2013. This past year’s been quite a rollercoaster for gaming. We’ve seen jaw-dropping scandals, eye-popping new technology, and hair-pulling scams. We’ve seen the next generation of gaming arrive full force right near the years’ end, and paid sad tribute after the fall of several of gamings’ greatest titans.
Without further ado, here are some of the biggest failures, scandals, and head-scratchers of 2013.
The War Z

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

For the first entry, I shall tell you a story.  Back in 2009, a studio by the name of Bohemia Interactive released a lovely little military shooter by the name of ARMA 2. Come 2012, a small team of fans decided to create a mod which would eventually evolve into the best zombie game ever made: Day Z.  It wasn’t long before Bohemia Interactive approached the mod’s developers, and offered them a job: to turn Day Z into a standalone game.
Then along came a slimy little fellow by the name of Sergey Titov. Titov, for those of you who don’t know, is responsible for such games as Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing; a contender with E.T. The Extraterrestrial for the title of worst game ever made. He saw the concept behind Day Z, and was immediately blinded by dollar signs. Along with his cadre of goons at Hammerpoint Interactive decided to push out a game called The War Z – a clear attempt to fool people into buying based on the good name of both Bohemia Interactive's new project and Max Brooks' novel World War Z.
Like most games of its caliber, it was unmitigated garbage.
What followed was one of the most disgraceful sagas in gaming; Titov – who was about as charismatic as dog vomit - attempted to lie, cheat, and scam his way to game development fame. Ultimately, Valve had to refund thousands of customers and The War Z changed its name to Infected: Survivor Stories after receiving a Cease and Desist from the estate of Max Brooks. Far as I know, the game’s still out there, and it hasn’t gotten much better.  You can read about the whole saga here.
The Xbox One Debuts With Nuclear Submarines

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

I’ve gotta hand it to Microsoft, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone botch PR as thoroughly as they did, both at E3 and in the months leading up to it. It started with a god-awful press conference in which Microsoft focused exclusively on the not-so-exciting multimedia features of their console, neglecting the fact that most people were just there to hear how it’d impact the way they game. They didn’t.
Things got worse, of course. For some reason that I’m still trying to work out, Microsoft decided to put Don Mattrick, a walking black hole of charisma, in charge of PR for the Xbox One at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. That was a bad idea.  
Electronic Arts Fails At Battlefield 4

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

Battlefield 4 was one of the year’s most anticipated war-themed multiplayer first-person shooters, alongside Call of Duty: Ghosts – which fans of the former claimed it would thoroughly dominate (I still can’t really tell the two of them apart). Unfortunately, those fans actually ended up eating their words. Y’see, somewhere along the line, Electronic Arts. Goofed. Hard.
While Activision was somehow able to release Ghosts across both current and next-gen consoles without much difficulty, the multi-platform status of
Battlefield 4 was apparently too much for EA’s development teams to handle. At launch, the game’s multiplayer proved nearly unplayable, plagued with poor connectivity and enough bugs to start an ant farm.  Although the company’s been hard at work trying to fix the myriad issues ever since they cropped up, it’s too little, too late – for their horrendous botch of the launch, they’ve been hit with no less than three class-action lawsuits.
SimCity, DRM, and Glassbox

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

Of course, as you might all remember, server issues are really nothing new to Electronic Arts. When EA and Maxis announced they were reviving and rebooting the Sim City franchise, fans across the board rejoiced. Finally, we’d have a modern city-building game to call our very own, complete with next-gen technology and programming. Then they announced that it required a constant Internet connection.
First, the servers exploded, showering everyone who bought the game with a cocktail of bitterness, frustration, and outrage. It was a full week before anyone could reliably get online, at which point Amazon pulled it from their stock and EA scrambled to put together a fruit basket of apology games. When the servers finally did come online, the game was missing at least half the features it launched with, while the game’s cloud– apparently out of spite – chomped down and deleted saved games left and right.
Everything came to a head, however, when it came to light that the poorly-managed servers weren’t even necessary to play the sodding game, all while cracks appeared in the veneer of the game’s ‘perfect’ city simulation. What EA promised us was a truly next-gen city building game. What it delivered was a nearly-unplayable mass of shoddy code shackled to completely unnecessary DRM.  
Strippers At The IGDA

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

It’s a pretty well-known fact that the games industry is still very much a boy’s club. I’ve discussed this before. Thankfully, there are a number of organizations popping up that are dedicated to making women feel more welcome in gaming, both as players and as developers. The International Game Developers Association was supposedly one such organization.
They did a good job of doing so, until some knuckle-dragger decided it’d be a good idea to hire exotic dancers for an IGDA-sponsored party, meant as a networking opportunity…on the day of the #1ReasonToBe panel. Yeah, I don’t know what was running through his head, either. Air, probably.
The backlash was immediate and scathing. Scores of developers resigned from the organization, and many users and industry personalities took to Twitter to express their disgust and outrage at the IGDA’s conduct. Though the IGDA issued an apology shortly after the incident, the fact that this happened at all demonstrates how far we still have to go.
The OUYA Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

I’m willing to admit that I was one of the people excited for the launch of the OUYA. When it was first announced, it looked like an incredibly promising device; a micro-console which could have the potential to transform console gaming into a truly open market. Even better, it was available at a steal compared to other systems on the market. All in all, it looked fantastic.
I first realized something was amiss when the OUYA development units shipped with faulty controllers. Although the organization eventually addressed the issue, it was a clear warning sign that the micro-console might not be all it was cracked up to be. When the OUYA president announced plans to annualize the console, I grew even more nervous.  She failed to mention this on the Kickstarter page, and only started discussing it after the project was funded. Strike two.
Then this happened. I think the ad speaks for itself.  
Ashe’s Cricket Doesn’t Cut It

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

This is Ashes Cricket 2013. Developed by Trickstar Games, it proceeded to quickly plummet into the grimy depths of development hell, being delayed no less than three times before finally releasing on November 22, 2013. At a certain point in the development process, one of the lead developers promised regular video updates, but failed to keep to a schedule.
By this point, it was clear there were some very serious – and possibly irreparable – problems with the title.
It released on Steam on November 22, 2013, and was removed four days later. For some reason, people still decided to purchase it. They were treated to a complete wreck of a title, plagued with poor graphics, poor coding, terrible controls, and worse graphics. On November 28, it was finally announced that the game’s production had been cancelled, and the developer planned to return the money of everyone who’d still decided to buy the game.
I’m still confused as to how anyone could have expected the game would be good.
Aliens: Colonial Marines: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

I like Gearbox Software. They’re the studio responsible for the Borderlands franchise. Unfortunately, I realized something about the development studio this year. While they might be the folks responsible for one of the best FPS loot hunts in gaming, they’re also horribly inconsistent with their titles. For every instance of Borderlands or Brothers in Arms, there’s a Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Let’s talk about that last one, as it’s probably the worst game Gearbox has or will ever release.
Whereas Forever was simply a bit of a mediocre letdown, Colonial Marines was a mach-force kick in the nether regions, made all the more painful by the knowledge that it could’ve been so much better. While the game proper had excellent level design, an incredible setting and a great soundtrack, it was also plagued with terrible AI, shoddy multiplayer, and god-awful graphics. That last one stung particularly hard, as the screenshots released by Gearbox were far, far more beautiful than the actual game.
THQ Files For Bankruptcy

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

We’re going to end things on a bit of a somber note. This year also saw the death of a number of major development studios, one of which was THQ. After several years of hanging on by a financial thread, the development studio simply couldn’t keep going: it filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy last January. Over the first few months of 2013, it auctioned off all its assets.
There’s a silver lining in all of this, thankfully. THQ might be gone, but it’s certainly not forgotten; all of the properties it once held are furthermore all in good hands. While it’s still a shame to see them go, at least their legacy will live on.
LucasArts Goes Under, Star Wars 1313 Gets Canceled

Ten of the biggest failures, controversies, and catastrophes of 2013

Far more distressing than the death of THQ was the closure of LucasArts, which was shut down by Disney shortly after it acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise. In the process, both of the studio’s projects – Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313 – were cancelled. Although Disney says they might still be licensed out to other developers, the studio itself is definitely dead in the water.
Posted on: 01/20/2014 | ? Comments
Tags: Video games, Gaming Failures, Controversies, The War Z, Lucasarts, THQ
Nicholas Greene

A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.

The views of GameDynamo's writers are not necessarily the views of the website as a whole. However, we support freedom of speech and enjoy diverse opinions about video games. Hopefully you do too!

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