When a new video game launches, usually thousands of players will rush out to buy that game. (If the marketing is done right). Often games like these, which are most games, reach their peak player count on the first day. And then from that point, the game slowly, and steadily loses players. Until the servers are shut down ten to fifteen years later. But some games prevail and survive with a lasting, loyal player base. But there are also some that do utterly terrible at launch. Barely grabbing any player interest or the suffering of technical issues. Or just not fulfilling promises that were made. Or even all of those at once. Somehow, some of these crawl out of their own ashes and make a huge name for themselves. So, here are five huge games today that had terrible launches:
1) No Man’s Sky
Everyone knows the story of one of the most infamous game releases. A few million people decided to preorder what was expected to be one of the best open-world space adventures ever. But obviously, that turned out to be a bigger disappointment than any other game ever released. Players we promised a rich exploration experience. But that turned out to just be the same generated worlds with the same ridiculously generated flora and fauna. But most importantly, the shared universe we were promised was a lie. It was ultimately an isolated single-player adventure through the infinitely boring cosmos.
With this, there was a sharp drop in the player count over a few days. Only the hardcore fans were willing to give it another chance were left. The developers, Hello Games, didn’t get off the hook that easily either. In fact, they received torrents of hate messages and comments about how upset players were about the game. To make things worse, even a police investigation was launched into the game, to make sure it wasn’t a complete fraud.
A Universal Miracle
But somehow, the game managed to get back on its feet, and now has almost a few million monthly players. How? Well, thankfully the developers weren’t finished with the game after its release. And despite the hate and disappointment, they released several updates over the course of three years. Each one slowly redeemed the game, until No Man’s Sky Next released in the Summer of 2018, where almost all was forgiven. Most recently, No Man’s Sky Beyond has managed to gain and retain millions of new and old players, with VR, online, and many smaller general updates. That makes No Man’s Sky the biggest comeback in gaming history.
2) Star Wars Battlefront II
After the lukewarm reception of the Battlefront franchise’s first reboot, the sequel was expected to be a lot more promising. The addition of a single-player story mission alongside improved graphics and multiplayer made Battlefront II seem like it was what fans had been pining for since Star Wars Battlefront was released in 2015. Free continual updates and the implication of space battles also added to the installment’s hype. Though it came with poor reception. Microtransactions leading to pay to win incentives, a poor story, and fairly limited multiplayer modes, of which were only playable on a few maps lead to an overall a grim reception.
Thousands of players took to Twitter to berate EA (who already had a poor reputation at this stage from the last game’s paid DLC). The loot crates you could purchase could go towards a very expensive hero to play as. Luke Skywalker originally cost 60,000 credits, which would have taken players an average 40 hours of grinding to unlock. The pay to win scenario also meant better guns could be unlocked early in the game, which was frustrating. It also didn’t help that the single-player story was pretty bad, and also pretty ill-rewarding after the seven to ten hours of playthrough.
Back onto the Battlefront
Thankfully, DICE overhauled much of the game. Heroes prices were cut hugely, the leveling up system was also changed to make it fairer, and loot crates were driven out of the game. Battlefront II has been consistently worked on, leading to more free content, improved gameplay, and a more enjoyable and balanced experience for players. So nowadays, the game has a consistent player base that is actually growing alongside the newly added heroes, game modes, and maps. Later this month, we get the famous clone war planet, Felucia, for Capital Supremacy and a new non-PvP experience.
3) For Honor
The Rainbow Six Siege inspired medieval hand to hand combat PvP was another great Ubisoft idea. And like the previous two games on this list, it was an exciting time a few months up to release. Many players were excited to sink there teeth into this original fighting game, dubbed For Honor. Though what they didn’t anticipate were the dreadful servers, as the multiplayer relied on Peer-to-Peer connection. It was slow, laggy, and often resulted in the game-breaking down completely with every player being kicked. There was also the unfairly balanced 4v4 and 1v1 games that caused great annoyance among its player base. These issues alone resulted in over 100 fixes in its first month alone. So throughout 2017, Ubisoft was to busy chasing its own tail to actually implement any new features as it planned, so even more players left the game.
The next year had the developers adding masses of content, which slowly drew back the majority of its players. Four more heroes, four more maps and a new game mode alongside plenty of fixes. Thankfully, although very late into its release, the connection errors were solved by dedicated servers. The addition of fun emotes, gruesome executions, more customization and plenty more led to the game now hosting far more than the average player base for a AAA PvP game over two years down the line. And despite its revival, For Honor still being updated and improved, with the most recent hammer-wielding hero, Hulda, giving players another way to fight.
If we look back to September 2014, one of the biggest games of the decade was released. But, it was in a pretty lackluster state on its entry into the gaming world. Despite it being a game with a lot of expectations from the ex-Halo devs, Bungie, Destiny failed to hit the mark when it came to reviews. Hitting mostly six out of ten on most major sites, the game was repetitive. It also failed in delivering the intense and complex combat, whilst also not fulfilling a completely open-world feel. It was almost unfinished. Which led to a somewhat hollow experience. Despite this terrible launch, the player base stayed strong. And as a result, so did the developers. Bungie would implement a hoard of changes and updates in the following weeks, which improved the game hugely.
Over the next year, many updates improving the gameplay, looting system, and overall content eventually brought new players to the Destiny community as well as old players maintaining support. The Dark Below and House of Wolves added a ton of new content into the game to have fun with. But it was when The Taken King was released to high reviews, that reinvigorated players back into the game. So despite a dodgy release, 2015/2016 became Destiny’s golden era. This is due to the aforementioned content updates alongside the dedicated player base. Its release is comparable to Anthem, but obviously, Anthem didn’t have the popularity or development team to push the game to success.
5) World of Warcraft
Although it is fifteen years old, it’s hard to forget the extremely terrible launch that World of Warcraft had back in 2004. As the game was immediately so popular when the game first hit stores, it was almost impossible to join any game without finding yourself in a long queue. It wouldn’t matter how good your internet connection was anywhere in the world, you could be waiting for a long time to finally hit a server, which you could be thrown out of at any moment due to random disconnects. Ouch. As a result, the fame of the game almost completely sunk. Plus, whenever a new expansion hit, servers would stiffen and turn into something like an online traffic game. Connection issues such as this would have destroyed any new release (even a AAA game today). Unless it was soon fixed.
Ironically, the game struggled for a long time with this connection issue, as well as pretty bad servers. But it had a very loyal fan base, mainly because World of Warcraft was one of a kind. As technology, the internet, and Wi-Fi speed improved, the game was slowly updated to become what we know today.
Honorable Mention: Fortnite
Today, Fortnite is known as one of the biggest games ever made. With a peak player base of 200 million players, the game certainly raked in its fair share of income. But obviously, like all beginnings, it started off fairly slow. From September to December, the Battle Royale’s player count was reasonably modest, averaging about five to eight million players. Although that seemed plenty at the time, it soon took off. Fortnite would go on to pass PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and there was no stopping the Epic Games title. From early 2018 to that same year’s Summer, the game destroyed all the competition with 250 million registered players.
The growth can be attributed to streamers, content creators, and the media, as well as players moving from Minecraft and PUBG, creating the giant that we know today. This early access release wasn’t as terrible as the previous five on the list but it was still tiny compared to the game’s peak numbers.
There are many other games with bad releases in comparison to their popularity today, like Skyrim and Diablo III; these were just a few. For more on gaming, make sure to check out our other articles on The Nerd Stash.
Callum is an avid writer, not just of gaming articles, but of short stories and scripts. Besides gaming, he enjoy travelling and trying new things.