As in any business, the video game industry has its surprises . From titles that generated little expectation and ended up becoming commercial successes, to games that had everything going for them and ended up disappointing the market. Today we dive into the waters of video game history to learn about some of the most notable business failures in digital entertainment. Titles that the public and critics eagerly awaited, and ended up defrauding their own and others, causing in some cases the closure of studies, or notable changes in the development policies of millionaire companies. What other titles besides the ones we present do you think should be on the list?
1. Daikatana, the heir to DOOM who was not
In May 2000, Ion Storm and Eidos Interactive released Daikatana , a title that had great hype due to the work of John Romero, co-creator of DOOM. With so much expectation for the new action adventure, Eidos invested about 27 million dollars in the development of the title, and finally it would not recover even 10% of the total. Romero’s apologies and recognition of broken promises would come much later, but Daikatana has undoubtedly become one of the great failures of the early millennium.
2. Duke Nukem Forever, the most anticipated failure
Perhaps one of the video games with the most complex development, Duke Nukem Forever lasted 15 years in its development phase. And when it launched in June 2011, it was a dismal failure. The return to the screen of Duke, went from being a title that would revolutionize the genre to a joke, being today a synonym for extended periods of production.
The final expense to develop the game came to around 30 million dollars. By the time it finally went on sale, many of its mechanics and ideas were out of date. It did not reach the hype generated, not one bit. The distributor drastically lowered its profit expectations in a short time, and Duke Nuke Forever established itself as the comeback that shouldn’t have been.
3. Epic Mickey 2. The Power of Two, the sequel that sank the franchise
This commercial failure ended up forcing Disney to consider its role in the world of video games . The first Epic Mickey had sold 1.3 million units and was exclusive to the Nintendo Wii. This multiplatform sequel ended up failing, selling just 270,000 units in the first month (even though it was available on multiple platforms).
Junction Point Studios’ developer studio ended up closing its doors and the Epic Mickey series said goodbye. To this day, the adventures of Disney’s iconic mouse still await a return to the height of their adventures and popularity, but it doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s plans.
4. Grim Fandango, a cult adventure
The LucasArts development team was emblematic of the point’n click adventure adventure genre . The adventures of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion had brought generations of players closer to stories full of plot content, with a sense of humor and psychedelic puzzles. Grim Fandango incorporated elements of 3D exploration to immerse yourself in the world of the undead.
The lawyer Manuel Calavera and his adventure, despite being highly acclaimed by critics, did not achieve commercial success. In one year on sale, barely 100,000 units had been sold. Grim Fandango’s failure was not so much his fault, but the genre that was going through its worst moment. Grim Fandango is arguably one of the last great graphic adventures of the golden age, the closing of a moment in the video game industry. Then it would come back as a retro item, but commercially, it was a failure in its time.
5. Shenmue, innovation in open worlds
Today the name of Shenmue is associated with one of the sagas most loved by video game fans . A cult title that SEGA had to cancel after its second installment, and that many years later would have the closure of its trilogy with a video game financed by the fans themselves. Why is the first game in the series considered a failure?
Yu Suzuki wanted Shenmue to be his masterpiece. It is the fourth best-selling game of the failed Sega Dreamcast, reaching 1.2 million units in just 1 year. But even with these numbers he could not save the Japanese company from a commercial bump.
Shenmue was born as a derivative of the Sega Saturn’s Virtua Fighter fighting game. It aimed to explore the terrain of narrative and martial combat, incorporating open world elements that would later be popularized by the GTA saga. Even today, it is a classic that many want to revive and that the specialized press analyzes as an “undisputed classic”. But it was a financial failure for the company.