The Big Flops of 2018
You know a lot of things happened in 2018… Some good, some bad, and some you just want to laugh at. I’ve two written about two games that are Battle Royale games in our Just Bad section of the website. As time went on, there are a lot of crazy things that happened in the industry. Of course, the Just Bad list is intended for games that fail horribly, like massive flops that are essentially dead on arrival. News stories fly by so fast, that with life getting in the way, there’s no time to write about it or discuss it on the podcast. Then I had the idea: The game industry, is just one massive game, a massively terrible game, and so why not dedicate a whole list of the bad things that happened in 2018. That is what I’m going to do, this is going to be a yearly tradition: I’m taking the opportunity to catalog all of the best of the worst of 2018. So welcome to The Big Flops of 2018 as we usher into 2019 (2 months into 2019).
The Bully Hunters
There is not much to talk about the Bully Hunters, namely because they didn’t even last a Weekend. But “what are the Bully Hunters”, you may ask? To sum it up… They are hitmen… No really… You literally go to their website, put a hit on someone that is “harassing” you, and they kill them for you. So far it is just kept within Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, though they planned to cover other games as well. Various game journalist websites like Kotaku and Polygon were promoting the group as a front to fight off harassment against women in games. The idea is that women are frequently harassed in the games that they play, so the BullyHunters who are a collective of female gamers set up this organization to combat it. They even received financial backing from brand names like Steelseries, Vertagear, Cyberpower, and the Diverse Gaming Collation. BUT… It all started to fall apart when they did a live show on Twitch showcasing what the Bully Hunters were all about. I’ll give you the cliff notes version: A user called PlatinumParagon found that their statistics were greatly exaggerated. Their claim that 3 million women were harassed out of gaming altogether was taken from a 2012 survey which stated that 84 women out of 874 participants have temporarily quit one online game because of harassment. It was discovered that they used a fake account for their Bully Hunter demonstration as it the Steam profile showed that its name has changed to Bully_Hunter_03, Bully_Hunter_77, as well as arosethrone, and pinkLIGHT who were harassment victims that they introduced on the live stream.
And all of their sponsors pulled out stating that this is not what they expected, and don’t want their names dragged through the mud. Then on April 16th, it was announced that the Bully Hunters are shutting down. To sum up this whole Bully Hunter group, this is an idea that doesn’t need to happen. Plenty of games offer ways to circumvent bad players. Tired of hearing a guy talking trash: mute him, a player is using aimbot or wall hacks: report them, a guy is spamming messages to you: block them. What is most important is to have a thicker skin, because if someone is trash talking you and your response is to call someone else to kill the player for you, in their eyes, your someone that can’t even fight their own battles. Besides dying in most games is more of an inconvenience and less of a detriment. Killing someone isn’t going to make them have an epiphany and realize their own mistakes, the best solution is to just ignore them. After all, this whole thing was all about trying to sell headsets.
Battle Royale Everything!
Since the inception of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, and then later Fortnite becoming a household name reaching the same levels of fame as Mario, the Battle Royale genre has become the next industry fad. This kind of reminds me of the time where it was believed that a game has to have multiplayer in order to sell, or how Full Motion Video was going to be the way of the future, or including zombies in their game. The game industry always follows what is currently the hot new trend, and try to capitalize on it in hopes of making bank. However, there are some games that didn’t see the same level of success as others did. SOS which I’ve written about previously implemented a battle royale mode into its game and focused all of the attention to it, they did eventually bring back the main SOS game mode, but the damage was already done. Then it was announced on November 12th, the game had shut down its servers. I don’t think adding a battle royale mode is what killed the game, but it definitely got a lot of ire from the community once it got added in. The Culling 2 was an embarrassment for Xaviant as they tried to follow the philosophy of being like PUBG in hopes of becoming successful: It failed spectacularly. After much ridicule, Xaviant decided to cancel development on Culling 2, and resume development on The Culling. However, the game is still struggling due to low player count as the reviews show. Then finally Islands of Nyne a sci-fi battle royale that held a lot of promise, but as of December 20th, development has ceased, but the servers will keep running, and go free to play. Some Battle Royals don’t reach the same success as Rings of Elysium, or even Black Ops 4’s battle royale: Blackout, some just linger until it dies out. It’s another story if a Battle Royle is made to save a dying company.
The Closure of Bosskey
It a shame to see a developer struggle, even more so when they close their doors. BossKey Productions is a studio that was founded and lead by Cliff Bleszinski. Their first game that was introduced into the hot hero shooter market was Lawbreakers which was coming out for $29.99, none of that $60 multiplayer only bullshit. At the very start, the game did very well… Then tapered off pretty quickly. Lawbreakers would have as little as like… 5 or 6 players, and in one case 0 players. A big hurdle this game had was that game failed to engage players to keep them playing, and if no players are playing, then no one will buy the game because hardly anyone was playing it. So… as an effort to save the studio now that we were in the Battle Royale era, they’ve introduced a new title to enter the Battle Royale market. A cartoonish 80s game show styled battle royale called Radical Heights. I’ve played a little bit of Radical Heights and I thought it was decent, still had a long way to go considering some of the buildings on the map weren’t even finished, but it was early access game after all. Course that didn’t save them either, which lead up to BossKey closing their doors for good. Radical Heights didn’t even last a month, and the servers were already shutting down, along with Lawbreakers. Back in episode 5 of the Just Good PC Games Podcast, I briefly compared Cliff to George Lucas but didn’t go into much detail. To sum up, Cliff was essentially a rock star game developer back then, ever since he worked on Jazz Jackrabbit, to Unreal, and then eventually started working on Gears of War. There wasn’t a game that he could not pitch. Just like George Lucas when he first directed Star Wars and so on, until the prequels came along. Cliff felt like he can do no wrong, thus the ego kind of expanded, even stating that PC players were more likely to pirate games, then backpedaled and stated that PC was superior, but then started crapping on the XBOX audience. Sadly though, it seems Cliff will not be making a return to the games industry as he did before, ending a legacy of games from Jazz Jackrabbit, to Gears of War, followed by Lawbreakers and then Radical Heights as an attempt to save the company.
“Do you guys not have phones?”
If you don’t know where this quote came from, let me make this brief. Its Blizzcon 2018, many fans have gathered to be the first to witness the latest updates and projects that Blizzard is cooking up. We got a new character for Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm, some new cards for Hearthstone, I think a new character for Starcraft 2 co-op. Then came the grand finale, their big reveal… A new Diablo game that is set between Diablo 2 and 3, a collaboration between Blizzard and Netease, and it’s a mobile game… Saying that people were not happy would be an understatement, it was a mixture of anger, confusion, betrayal, and disappointment. Especially since their feature presentation was a mobile game while their audience is very much PC orientated. Imagine if Bethesda were to announce Fallout Shelter as their next big Fallout title, they would be laughed at out of the stage, of course, that didn’t happen. Fallout Shelter was later followed up with the announcement for Fallout 4 shortly after. In fact, there is actually a Diablo 4 in the works and even prepared a video announcing it, however, it seems the announcement was not intended for Blizzcon as the article states. After the announcement, things kind of went downhill. Blizzard announced that they are putting more focus into mobile development, Heroes of the Storm development is being scaled back, but also they are killing off their esports league (at least for now), and of course employees were being offered payment to leave the company in order to cut costs. I have no doubts that this is because of Activision. Costs for game development keep going up, and they have to find ways to earn more money. Mobile gaming to many companies is a lot more appealing, namely because it’s easier and cheaper to develop for, has a more general casual audience, and microtransactions are the norm for mobile games. When Diablo Immortal does come out, I predict it will gain a lot of traction toward the start, but then slowly taper off. Also, I predict that some clever data miner will go through the games files and find assets from Netease’s other game: Crusaders of Light, as it was brought up that the UI for Diablo Immortal and Crusaders are very similar. In the end, Blizzard, or Activision Blizzard is not in a good spot, especially with their stock being down 50%, and even in recent news, they let go 800 employees as of February 12th! It’s unclear if they will ever get themselves out of this rut, it will be interesting to see what they have planned, but so far it’s not looking good. Let’s just hope this whole thing really was an out of season April Fools joke.
“Either accept it or don’t buy the game!”
That was from Patrick Soderlund, executive vice president of Electronic Arts (everyone’s favorite game publisher). When the Battlefield V trailer came out, it had some very mixed reception. To sum up, the game was marketed as being a historically accurate interpretation of WWII, which is far from the case. From the trailer, you can see that the battle is a lot more hectic, intense, and prominently features a female soldier with a prosthetic arm which became the focus of the controversy (also there’s another soldier that has a katana on his back). It was claimed that the inclusion of women in the frontlines was sacrificing historical accuracy and authenticity in favor of political correctness. In an interview with Soderlund, he stated: “Battlefield V is a lot about the unseen, the untold, the unplayed,” he continued. “The common perception is that there were no women in World War II. There were a ton of women who both fought in World War II and partook in the war.” Though that claim is very much untrue, women were definitely involved in WWII, just not on the battlefield. They have served many other roles that were vital to the army, even then there are still women who have fought on the battlefield like Lyudmila Pavlyuchenko; a Soviet sniper who was credited for 309 kills, earning her the title of Lady Death. To sum up, journalists and Soderlund said that people didn’t like the Battlefield V trailer because gamers are misogynists (yup, I’m not kidding). Soderlund even using his 13-year-old daughter and how that she is able to play as a girl in Fortnite as well as stating that gaming is more gender diverse to enforce that this is how it is: “either accept it or don’t by the game.” Well… looks like the gaming public took his advice as it was reported that pre-orders for Battlefield V were very much low. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Patrick bailed out before this news came out. Despite selling 7.3 million copies, Battlefield V’s sales were below expectations. In all honesty, I think this is a case of all the ire EA has gathered up backfiring on them, people had likely wised up and chose not to pre-order, and what Patrick said in that interview just added fuel to the fire. Bioware’s Anthem is not too far off, and I’m predicting that more trouble is going to be coming to EA.
Don’t Take me to West Virginia
Fallout 76 is a mess, both in gameplay and marketing. There are too many things to list off, so I’ll be brief. This whole mess started with the canvas bags which were part of the collector’s edition (which was $200), though the bags weren’t canvas, they were nylon. Bethesda thought that 500 atoms (which is the in-game cash for Fallout 76) would appease everyone, but it didn’t (you can’t buy much with 500 atoms, maybe a door and some flowers). Then Bethesda was like “okay we’ll give you all the canvas bag we promised, just send us your personal info”, then everyone’s personal info got leaked due to a bug with the website’s ticketing system. More controversy sprung up when hackers had discovered the game’s dev room which had all of the items in the game, including ones not even available yet. One of those items was a lunchbox which provides experience and damage buffs… so… a loot box… and this loot box was tagged for the atom shop, so there were plans to sell this item for real money, so more controversy struck. That wasn’t the only thing, the game was also very bad. Imagine Fallout 4, but with tact on multiplayer, no story, no NPCs to interact with, just you and the other players playing a game on an engine that wasn’t built for multiplayer. Frequent server issues, which is bad for a game that is online only. To add insult to injury, during the game awards a new game called the Outer Worlds was announced and touts that the original creators of Fallout were behind the development of the game. It’s unclear where Fallout 76 is going to go from here, especially with news that copies of the game were being pulled from shelves, suggesting the game will be going free to play. Many fans were also disappointed when they pre-ordered and received their bottle of Nuka Dark Rum a “premium” alcoholic drink being sold for $80 that was also used to promote Fallout 76. Just like the bag, they also cheaped out. Nuka Dark is literally just a bottle of cheap rum inside a plastic shell! DID I MENTION THIS COSTS $80!?! Sigh… This can’t get any further downhill, can it?…
Atlas: Survival Reused
I think at this point game companies were just racing to see who can be the biggest disappointment. Atlas had a lot of promise when it was first announced, but it quickly fell apart. For starters, if you compare the trailer and the actual game, its like night and day. The game ran as well as Ark did (very poorly). You could have a 1080 TI in your rig, and still, struggle to even run the game. It gets worse, it was later discovered that there is a hidden menu in the Atlas menu that was carried from Ark: Survival Evolved, so this game is officially an asset flip. The current state of the game is still not good, from what I read in the Steam reviews; the game is pretty much overrun by hackers dropping whales on peoples boats (I wish I was making that up). The developers are still trying to iron out the game and add more updates, but at this point, I think its a lost cause. You can only polish a turd so much, but it’s still a turd.
The Souljagame Console
This I think all of us can look back and laugh at. So Soulja Boy, he’s a rapper, and he’s “made” a new game console: The Souljagame console. This isn’t an original piece of tech, this is literally just a Chinese ripoff console, and even includes 800 games like Mario, Sonic, and Street Fighter without the permission of the IP holders. If you look at the image, you can see that it has a chassis similar to the Xbox One, and includes controllers that are a rip off of the PlayStation controllers. He also has been putting out more Soulja game products on his Soulja Watch website, including a console called the Fuze which is an android based console that only works in China. Then out of nowhere the consoles were pulled from the site, followed up with this tweet from Soulja Boy. It was likely that Nintendo approached Soulja Boy and told him that they will sue him if he continues to sell his consoles. You think it would be over, but you would be wrong, he came back swinging. More Soulja consoles and other Soulja products came to the store. Soulja also made an appearance on a radio show called the Breakfast Club for an interview, but also plugging his Souljagame console. During that interview, he was asked about Nintendo threatening to sue if he didn’t stop selling “his” console, though he stated he can’t say anything about it according to his lawyer (Despite the fact that he confirmed this on Instagram). Throughout the interview he tries to make it seem like his consoles were successful, the only reason the other consoles were pulled from the store is to make way for version 2, and that he made over $250,000 in sales (Even though he was asking for donations). HOWEVER, those sales are fake. In this video, by The Quartering, he notes that in that Instagram video where Soulja is showing off his total sales, he made a mistake…
The $212k he made was from 7 orders, in a single day, at 5 am. The only way he would’ve made that much from 7 orders is if he was selling the consoles for $30,000 each. Of course, that’s not the case, the main Soulja game console was being sold for $150. This all finally came to an end when Shopify (the host for Soulja Boy’s store) shut down the whole thing. He claimed that it was his ex-cameraman who hacked the site, but I find that to be unlikely. Either Shopify received a lot of complaints or was approached by Nintendo or Sega, or whoever and asked them to take the site down. Well, my thoughts on this whole situation… I have a theory: I think this whole thing was planned. Soulja Boy was not as famous as he used to be, figured that kids are playing games like Fortnite more than listening to his music, and figured that getting into the game industry would be his way to get back into the spotlight. There are rappers that have invested into the game industry: Drake invested in an Esports team, and Snoop Dogg has done work for Namco promoting Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and even appeared in a commercial for the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Soulja, on the other hand, thought releasing a game console would be the way to go, trying to bring himself up as a Black entrepreneur, even though he’s selling a console he didn’t even make, but maybe that was the idea. Get something cheap and put it out there, and it only costs like $50 to $100 off of Ali Express. This got people talking about Soulja Boy…
People like Proto Mario, Rerez, and even Jontron were talking about the Souljagame console, this whole thing was just one big publicity stunt. It didn’t matter that the console was a cheap piece of crap, Soulja was back in the spotlight once again. Soulja boy going on about how successful his consoles are is him just flexing (which is showing off in rapper speak), he is just trying to maintain this charade so people will still keep talking about him. Of course that all came to an end since his shop shut down. He has a new site up called Souljaelectronics.com but doesn’t feature any game consoles on the site. He has advertised the Souljagame mini on his twitter back in the February 3rd, but that has since been pulled from the site. It’s fair to say I don’t think we’ll be hearing any more about the Souljagame consoles anytime soon, at least for now.
And that concludes it. I don’t think its quite over for these companies yet. Activision is still having a rough time, along with their stocks going down, Bethesda’s patches for Fallout 76 are only introducing new bugs, and EA… who knows? Anthem is just a ways away, and they have so far found success with Respawn’s Apex Legends (which I’ll be reviewing soon), so anything goes.