So poorly made, over-hyped, and at times unplayable, that you're left wishing you had never handed over your hard-earned cash.
And that’s what we are looking at today because maybe there is merit in remembering those times you believed the hype and ended up feeling like you’d just been mugged.
Duke Nukem Forever (2011)
It was 14 years in the making, the original Half-Life 3 for many, a Schrodinger's cat of game development, both in development and likely to never see the light of day at the same time.
The latter point was so well-accepted by those waiting for Duke Nukem Forever (those that were still alive that is) that when it finally did ramp up for release in 2011 many were still questioning if it was a real title or not.
Sadly it was, a game that had been cryogenically frozen, thawed out and given just a sprinkle of modern sensibilities added up to one of the most boring, outdated and frankly misogynistic games of the 2010s
The game ends with Duke being listed as kill in action, to which Duke replies off-screen:
"What kind of shit ending is that? I ain't dead. I'm coming back for more!"
Thankfully, he never did.
Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)
Ah Cyberpunk 2077, little needs to be said about this title and in our viewer poll it was by far the game player’s felt most disappointed to have spent money on.
And yes there may well be some recency bias here but make no mistake this game launched in a disastrous state, even after it was significantly delayed, with developers CD Projekt having well and truly bitten off more than they could chew with a game so ambitious it proved impossible to make and resulted in a class-action lawsuit being filed against the developers.
Those who bought on last-gen consoles were especially burnt, the game was so bad that Sony saw fit to rip it from the PlayStation store. Buggy isn’t the half of it, the game was unplayable and even on the beefiest PCs, it was clear this was far from a finished product with many of the game’s promised features missing or severely watered down.
The launch has also had a long-lasting effect on the previously unimpeachable CD Projekt, a studio that had built up a reputation of the utmost quality with The Witcher 3.
CD Projekt knows that to bring this game back and make it what it should be will take a lot of work, and they look like they are making a decent effort in doing just that, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this game launched at least two years too soon.
You may notice there is no year affixed to the subheader and that is because, well it could be any number of FIFA games of the past few years.
A franchise that peaked for many in 2013 and ‘14 editions, FIFA has slowly slid into being… well being one of the biggest entertainment products ever. It’s partly the reason so many have detested the latest entries. Games that have become in thrall to the quasi-gambling FIFA Ultimate Team mode with seemingly little love for fan favourites like Career Modes and Pro Clubs, plus a litany of bugs that don’t seem to get fixed year to year and you have a player base that feel like nothing more than EA’s personal piggy bank.
There is also the collective delusion every FIFA player goes into as the new game ramps up for release convinced by EA’s marketing department with ‘FIFA-glish’, all that talk of motion capturing technology, reactive passing and blah blah blah.
But whatever, FIFA 22 looks quite good doesn’t it?
Fallout 76 (2018)
Another company on the list that seems intent on destroying their reputation is Bethesda Game Studios, at least when it comes to the Fallout franchise.
Fallout 76 would have a shout for being one of the worst launches ever if it wasn’t for the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 exists.
The wallet-crushing issue with Fallout 76 was that the game should have improved with each subsequent update -- part of the whole “game as a service” mantra -- but many who do still play it say it is as bad as ever.
Poor show, Bethesda.