Video games. As much as we love them, there have been some exceptional fails over the last forty years or so, with some being much worse than others. From perceived simple “lapses” in good judgment to all-out wackiness, this list will leave you scratching you head wondering “What the hell were these people thinking?”.
Sure, every business has its failings from time to time, but what makes these fails so memorable is that, even though the video game industry is projected to currently be worth $15.4 billion U.S. dollars, they still can make very human mistakes. You’d think with that amount of cheddar that they’d be able to buy an effective marketing team, but alas…
Here’s a list of my Top Ten Worst Video Game Industry Gaffes of All Time! Enjoy!
Wow, just wow…
10) Daikatana – “John Romero is About to Make You His B&#$@!”
Daikatana was much hyped prior to its release, but proved to be a commercial flop. Hampered by multiple delays, technical problems, lackluster gameplay, and an alienated fanbase due to poor marketing, Daikatana was destined to fail.
Even though John has publicly apologized for the game’s poor marketing, it forced him out of the industry that he was previously a pillar of, and into the mobile gaming market. At least he gets to spend all that time with his wife…right?
This was painful to watch…
9) Jamie Kennedy Wrecks E3
The video speaks for itself. Jamie was invited by Activision to host their 2007 E3 presser, but it proved to be the trainwreck to end all trainwrecks. Apparently inebriated out of his mind, the self-proclaimed “comedian” went on an incomprehensible tirade against the very audience he was supposed to entertain.
Long after the event, Jamie is still sore about it, and has gone on multiple Twitter rants against those who reference it. A crash course in effectively handling social media interactions would do this guy well, and perhaps some comedy lessons to boot. Yeesh.
The King is Dead, Sorry
8) Duke Nukem Forever
Let’s face it. Duke Nukem Forever sucks, and the reasons it does are numerous. From outdated, sexist jokes to limited weapon options, Duke Nukem Forever reminded us all that time and distance do not make the heart grow fonder.
The growing pains are glaringly apparent to anyone who plays this game, and it has been lambasted in countless Metacritic reviews. It also doesn’t help when your team’s only PR guy acts like a total tool on Twitter. Bury this one, folks, because it’s beyond dead!
Quick! Everybody point and laugh!
7) Nokia N-Gage
Sure, we could all use some convenience in our lives, right? Surely a phone that doubles as a video game system would be a good idea? Unfortunately no, and the Nokia N-Gage proved just that.
The point behind it was to emulate the Gameboy Advance, but sadly, it did a horrible job. With a confusing button layout more geared towards dialing as opposed to gaming, it failed to capture interest. Even worse, it started with a relatively steep price point ($299). Even shaving $100 off the price a mere 2 weeks after release, gamers still opted for Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance 100 to 1. May I suggest “more pockets” as your next commercial venture?
“Buy because video games” – Sega
6) Sega 32X and Sega CD
Wow…what a mess! The Sega 32X was released on November 21st 1994 and the Sega CD on October 15th, 1992, both of which were designed to increase the lifespan of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive into the 32-bit era. Unfortunately, they both did little but annoy gamers and third-party developers alike.
However well-intentioned, both were too little, too late, as the Sega CD became obsolete quickly and the Sega 32X was viewed as “unnecessary” with the Sega Saturn’s looming release. With three separate “big box” power sources necessary for each unit, AVGN said it best “it’s on life support“.
Like headaches, blurred vision and nausea? Step right up!
5) Nintendo’s Virtual Boy
Growing up poor, my parent’s couldn’t afford the Virtual Boy’s $180 initial price point when it was released in 1995, and it’s a good thing they couldn’t! Developed by the legendary Gunpei Yokoi, the Virtual Boy was designed as a “portable” system that displayed games in “true 3D”. However, anyone who’s played this console will only remember the headaches they endured due to the console’s “all red” LED display.
Obviously not seeing a return on investment for the $25 million in advertising costs due to its lukewarm reception, Yamauchi decided to publicly humiliate Yokoi at the company’s annual Shoshinkai trade show, even though the console was publicly declared “dead” by this point. Yokoi left Nintendo in 1996 and went on to develop the Bandai Wonderswan, but died tragically in a car accident shortly after. Rest in peace, Mr. Game Boy, you will be missed.
Someone adopt these children IMMEDIATELY!
4) Acclaim’s Crazy Advertising Campaigns
Acclaim’s list of offenses is quite extensive. Some of their hair-brained marketing schemes include : 1) giving out a $10,000 savings bond to the parents who name their newborn child “Turok”, 2) staging fake “Christian protests”, 3) paying the resulting tickets of those who sped to the store to grab Burnout 2, 4) bus stop billboards that spray fake blood on the sidewalk, and perhaps their most egregious, 5) offering to buy advertising space on actual tombstones to promote Shadowman: 2econd Coming.
We can merely theorize that human beings concocted these horrific ideas. We can only guess that these so-called “marketing professionals” disregarded a simple term: “market research”. Human emotions? What are those?
Don’t you DARE rile up Kratos, you darn ASPCA!
3) God of War II Launch Party
What better way to generate hype than to host a release party, Bacchanalia-style? For those who don’t know what Bacchanalia is, it’s a party that revolves around drunken revelry and ecstasy with roots in ancient Rome. However, no one mentioned that a raw, decapitated goat carcass was going to be the main course!
Handing out raw innards for the revelers to eat, all this stunt did was put Sony Computer Entertainment in the crosshairs of every animal rights activist out there, perhaps until the end of time. Bon Appetit!
THESE guys’ bullets are more real!
2) Splinter Cell: Conviction Gunman in New Zealand
We can all be thankful that this didn’t end tragically. In an attempt to promote their upcoming game Splinter Cell: Conviction, Ubisoft thought it would be a good idea to slap bandages on a man’s hands and give him a fake gun to carry around. Nearby bar patrons who spotted the man naturally called the police, who were nice enough not to turn the man into a blood-soaked block of swiss cheese.
Given Ubisoft’s lackluster reputation in development and customer relations, a fake gunman seems almost like a breath of fresh air. Keep up the good work, Ubisoft!
And now….drumroll, please!
Yeah, nothing threatening or offensive about this, right?
1) PlayStation Portable White Netherlands Billboard
Yes. This actually happened. As part of their marketing campaign in The Netherlands for their upcoming PSP White, some genius at Sony thought that this would actually fly. A Caucasian woman dressed all in white, forcefully grabbing a black person dressed all in black by the face shouldn’t offend anyone right?
While the campaign never left The Netherlands, the entire world eventually heard of this debacle and put pressure on Sony to remove the offensive ad, which they quickly did. Why does the term “market research” keep coming to mind? I know eight-year olds who are better at marketing lemonade than some of these jokers that call themselves “professionals”.
History is not always fun, folks, but it is through mistakes like these that we truly learn. Thanks for reading!