Six of the worst game launches of all time

Mass Effect: Andromeda has continued a long line of modern games that are pushed out too early and ship with more leaks than Hellraiser’s shower-cap, but never fear, Bioware is “working on the problems”.

In honour of millions of sheeple once again handing over their cash in exchange for a dumpster fire, I’ve taken a drunken walk down memory lane to revisit some of the worst game launches of all time.

Dead Island

This one is particularly memorable, as it turned out some goon over at Techland had one too many celebratory wine spritzers on release day and accidentally pushed out a buggy dev copy of the game, rather than the final release.

It also gave access to cheats unlike the world had seen since the ’90s FPS days, with players happily cruising through walls and enjoying the end of the world from under a veil of invulnerability. Luckily the problem was quickly corrected and everyone was happy.

Haha just kidding, even the proper build was full of bugs that had to be hurriedly fixed on day one.

Diablo 3

When life gives the Internet lemons, they make memes. You may remember Diablo 3’s infamous “Error 37”, a consequence of a couple of million battle-crazed nerds trying to force their login through a pinhole server, which of course meant nobody got in at all.

After waiting a decade for the sequel to the youth-defining Diablo 2, the frustrated masses turned their attention to making memes while hammering their login buttons repeatedly.

It didn’t really help that the game was kind of a major disappointment as well. With the weakest story I’ve probably ever seen in a Blizzard game and an auction house which made grinding for loot essentially pointless, the game was quickly cast aside like a banana-flavoured condom.

Of course, if you log in today, you’ll find something completely different and much, much better. Seriously, go try it.


Learning absolutely nothing from the Diablo 3 debacle, the SimCity reboot caused an uproar when they announced the game would not be playable offline, something which really pissed people off in 2013.

In spite of all assurances that this would be in everyone’s best interest, the server problems at launch were so disastrously bad that the Internet had a collective full-body orgasm over the bittersweet schadenfreude of EA grovelling at their feet and apologising.

Then all the “real” civ-builders moved on to Cities: Skylines a couple of years later.

“It’s, just like, PURE, man.”

Half-Life 2

Even though this is now remembered as one of the greatest games of all time (and possibly THE greatest by my own estimation), Half-Life 2 launched back in 2004 before Steam was the unsinkable behemoth it is today.

The hype for this game had reached critical mass, and forcing gamers to use Steam to play it was like trying to fit the population of Russia into a Jo’burg taxi. Though the game could be played offline, it still had to authenticate through Steam, which meant frustrated buyers had to wait days to manage even that.

Batman: Arkham Knight’s PC version

No list of this sort would be complete without this superstar cock-up, the Justin Bieber of bad launches, the Citizen Kane of flipping the bird to your consumers.

I doubt many of my PC brethren have forgotten this one, but let’s recap. This was a game that could barely crank out 30fps on a beast of a machine (where it was capped anyway), and featured graphics options that offered the exciting choice between “low” and “normal”.

To a PC gamer, that’s essentially the equivalent of a game dropping trou and taking a steamy dump on their mechanical keyboard.

This one was so bad it eventually got pulled entirely, and Oprah gave everyone refunds.

Assassin’s Creed Unity

This was one of my favourites, not just because of those nutso nightmare-fuel texture glitches, but because everything was so screwed up they basically had to re-release the game as a patch.

It was a bit like being asked to get off a plane due to a technical error, watching it explode on the tarmac, and then being escorted to a new one.

After about a month of trying to smear lipstick on a pig, Ubisoft eventually said to hell with it and issued a 40GB patch – essentially replacing your copy of Unity with a new one. They also cancelled the Season Pass, because faceless NPCs.

Want to come back to my place for some hot mead?