When you’re a publisher with a hot new game coming out, and half of the gaming world is waiting eagerly to play it, and the other half is waiting eagerly to talk smack about it if it sucks, things can get pretty stressful. Sometimes the game is great, but things just don’t fall into place for the launch, and you get a bad rep among gamers right out of the gates. That can be hard to recover from. Here are six huge game launches that didn’t go nearly as well as the developers would have hoped.
6. Diablo 3
The hype for D3 was in full force. Everyone who grew up on Diablo and Diablo 2 had booked the week off work for Diablo 3, and couldn’t wait to get playing. This isn’t the only time Blizzard is going to show up on this list, unsurprisingly. It’s not the first launch they botched, but they should have known better after the WoW fiasco which we’ll be taking a look at in a second.
“The servers are busy at this time. Please try again later (error 37)”.
Those infuriating words left many players disappointed. Even if they did the responsible thing and pre-loaded the game, it didn’t matter, you couldn’t even get into single player without being able to connect to the servers, yet the servers were too busy for most of us.
5. Half-Life 2
HL2 is widely regarded as one of the greatest games ever, but instead of leaving the gates in a full sprint towards greatness, Half-Life 2 got off to a stumble. Steam wasn’t yet the de-facto place to buy and launch PC games at the time, and this much-anticipated sequel required players to sign up for, and install, the new Steam client. That’s a bit of an annoyance, but nothing major compared to what we’re used to these days from some publishers… the real issue is that it didn’t work at first, so here’s the sequel everyone had been waiting for but they were SOL.
4. Dead Island
They had one of the most memorable game trailers in recent memory, people were still obsessed with zombies, and everything was ready to go. The stars had aligned for Dead Island. All that was left to do was to hit the big red “Release Game” button, then enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Problem: They released the wrong version of the game. Instead of the complete Dead Island, gamers got their hands on a buggy, out-dated build.
3. World of Warcraft
Warcraft and Warcraft II were amazing real-time strategy games, and Blizzard was about to flip the whole script by catapulting the MMO genre into the mainstream and releasing one of, if not the single, most profitable videogames of all time. The only problem? Their servers couldn’t even come close to handling the launch. Blizzard had built up a rabid fanbase between the Diablo series, previous Warcraft games, and Starcraft. Everyone wanted to check out what WoW was going to be like, and they all wanted to do it at the same time.
Blizzard had hosted Battle.net for a long time at that point, but even one of the leaders in online gaming weren’t able to predict all of the things that went wrong.
2. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
Oh hey, look who it is again! By now, SURELY Blizzard knows how to handle a big launch, right? They’ve learned from Diablo 3, WoW, Starcraft 2, and so on and so forth. Well, not quite. This expansion resulted in MILLIONS of WoW accounts being fired up again, or new players entering for the first time. Or at least whoever was willing to wait hours and hours in the queue.
This was going to be a racing game that made Xbox owners jealous of the PS4. All of the previews looked amazing, and racing fans were very excited to get their hands on this title. Driveclub relied heavily on online features, friends lists, leaderboards, and so on and so forth. The way their online system was setup meant that players were constantly pinging their servers, and once you add in all of the various online additions to the game, the game’s servers basically DDoS attacked themselves.
Hype died down pretty quickly, Sony pulled the PS+ version, and it’s all a shame because this had the potential to be a fresh new entry in the genre, but it left a bad taste in many gamer’s minds and they weren’t willing to overlook some of the shortcomings that could have been tidied up with a sequel.