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Lost Fortunes and Huge Balls: Gaming’s Worst Decisions

Mistakes were made.

Mistakes were made.

Did you see that Duke Nukem thing this week? 3D Realms, despite not actually owning the Duke IP anymore, just kind of made a whole new game while Gearbox had their back turned.

Even better, they announced a release date of “like, tomorrow”. They were, predictably, immediately sued. No surprises there. It did however get me thinking on how these things seem to crop up in the industry now and then; baffling decisions (either in hindsight or plain old present sight) that are bizarre, misguided or so ballsy that you have to almost admire them. This column looks at some of the best (worst).

Nintendo says “nah” to the PlayStation

The more die-hard gamers out there will probably know this bit of trivia, but for those who don’t know the story it goes like this. Before the PlayStation or the Xbox the big rivalry was Sega vs Nintendo, and Sega had these fancy-shmancy new CD-reading device, the innovatively named Sega CD.

Seeing it as a threat to their Super Nintendo console, Nintendo immediately contracted Sony to create something similar for them. But, as it turned out, Sega CD sucked huge amounts of ass. Unprecedented amounts of ass, in fact.

With the SNES no longer under any pressure, Nintendo quickly pulled a 180 on their contract. Sony figured they’d already done all that work, might as well make a console out of it.

So really this story is about one horrendously stupid decision, and one very smart one.

Bad Decision Type: Oops?

"Haha, CDs are STUPID." - Nintendo

“Haha, CDs are STUPID.” – Nintendo

Video game music composer pretends to be deaf, pretends to be composer

Okay that’s probably not fair, I guess he is a composer. Maybe. I created 4 minutes of utter crap in Frooty Loops one time, am I a composer?

I covered this extensively in my This Week In Gaming columns recently, but it is so hilarious it had to make the list. The brief is this: Resident Evil composer had a ghostwriter for 15 years, and his deafness was “overexaggerated”. And by “overexaggerated” I mean his ghostwriter didn’t even know he was “deaf”.

You have to appreciate the balls on this man though; it’s not enough that the only work he did for 15 years was sign his name to things, he had to also go around pretending that he was some kind of Beethoven-esque prodigy.

Honestly, this guy’s balls are so large I wonder if he has to buy 3 seats on a plane.

Bad Decision Type: Ballsy Level Over 9000

"Could we out those armrests up? Also I'm going to need 2 extra pillows."

“Could we out those armrests up? Also I’m going to need 2 extra pillows.”

Release half a game to Steam, charge money for it

Back in October last year, a game called Dark Matter showed up on Steam for a reasonable looking 15 dollars.

That is, of course, until you randomly stepped through a doorway and got a wall of text breaking the bad news that the game was over, but there “may be more to explore”. Yeah.

The developer actually tried to pass the game off as “episodic”, with the first episode funding the development of the next one. No dice; the game was promptly removed from Steam and GOG.

The worst part about the whole thing is that there was just no attempt to make it feel episodic, or make it feel like a “to be continued” kind of situation, it just ends as randomly as it does suddenly. It’s a bit like watching Keanu Reeves wake up in a tub of good and then the credits roll.

For a great look at the ending, check out this poor hapless Youtuber doing a Let’s Play. He had no idea what was behind door number 2.

Bad Decision Type: What did you think was going to happen?

Naïve dev accidentally gives away thousands of copies of his game

Gamers are not good people. Wait, let me rephrase; people are not good people. If you offer free anything, there are always going to get those people who try to get two. Or three. Or seventeen. This asshole-factor is quadrupled when you add the anonymity of the internet.

So when Dave Gilbert decided to give away copies of his indie title Blackwell Deception as a marketing ploy for the release of its sequel, he chose the worst possible method.

He set up a website which not only gave you a DRM-free copy, it also gave you a Steam key. People quickly found ways to get multiple keys and started reselling them. Oops. Seeing the error of his ways, our hero Dave implemented a restriction – one key per IP address. What could go wrong? Predictably, people simply spoofed their ID and carried on looting the site for Steam keys.

Finally admitting defeat, Dave took down the key generator, no doubt muttering something about why we can’t have nice things. Unfortunately, and this hurts to type, Dave forgot to take down the actual page, and 30,000 keys were stolen overnight.

Bad Decision Type: Welcome to the internet

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    ALT + SHIFT + T, Chris :-P

    • http://www.mygaming.co.za Chris Kemp

      Damnit I can’t figure out this joke and I feel like I have to turn in my nerd card because of it :( Put me out of my misery

      • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

        That’s the keyboard shortcut in WordPress to add in the “More” section ;)

  • BinaryMind

    Wow. I feel really sorry for that last one. He definitely needs better website skills or better logic – limit the keys or something!

    • Rick de Klerk

      The problem was that he realised what was happening, he asked the provider to take it down… but while they removed visible access to the link, they left the generator online, which obviously meant that pirates could keep “promoting” his game.

      Reminds of when DRM-free World of Goo provided a pay-what-you-want method, but because the site provided purchasers with a direct link, it was possible to just access the link directly to download it for free. So a game you could buy for 1c was widely pirated.

      • BinaryMind

        So they did leave the generator online, then my point still stands – they need a competent web developer who knows that removing only the visible link will not stop it :P

      • http://www.mygaming.co.za Chris Kemp

        That World of Goo thing was pretty tragic.

  • ToshZA

    Personally I think that Play system (now the Playstation) was the worst decision Nintendo have ever made. That includes the Wii U.

    • http://www.mygaming.co.za Chris Kemp

      Hey hey hey, give the U time :P

  • Alex Rowley

    I would say Microsoft’s decision on what the X1 was going to be has got to be up there. They almost gave the new gen to Sony on a silver platter.

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