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List of commercial failures in video games (wikipedia.org)
21 points by luu on March 9, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments



DooM, the first one, was likely a commercial failure. They made the shareware episodes too generous, and plenty of people played them in multiplayer for days. DooM 2 was a map pack with several new monsters and a new weapon, but most importantly it was meant to pay for DooM 1.


If you limit it to just the PC shareware version then perhaps. If you include all the special editions and the ports as part of the same game then there's no way it was a failure. It's been released about 50 times..


Failure in the sense that they "left money on the table" so to speak, maybe. But by all accounts even with the generous shareware episode they did extremely well for themselves.


It still sold a ton (multiple millions of units): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doom_(1993_video_game)#Commerc...


How is Heroes of Might and Magic IV not a commercial failure? The game was rushed, and in the words of its main designer, the AI was lobotomized. They even introduced the infamous Potion of Insurrection a last-minute effort to fix balance, which led to a period of multiplayer hero rushes. Castle bonuses and cost were slashed by something like 50% in the first patch.

It had a number of interesting design ideas, but there's no denying it was a raw experience.


What does rush-job and game balance issues have to do with the game being a commercial failure?


They are commonly given as a reason why it's the most vilified game out of 7.


HOMM V was also a kind of failure in balance aspect until they fixed it. Do you remember Raise Dead/Resurrection spam and necromancers moving around 10k skeleton archers?


I never got much into H5. To be frank I was disgusted by V's art direction, obnoxious story, and the initiative system was a far cry from the elegant one from IV. But there's no denying H5 did get fixed and plenty of people like it. I heard it favorably compared to H5 and H6 numerous times. It's like Quake 3 which I initially disliked but later learned to appreciate it for what it is.

Problems with IV were fundamental, especially AI, the extremely linear campaign with constricted path and a megaton of scripted events. And that's ironic because the main designer wanted it to be "back to strategic roots". Potion of immortality is something not easily solved with a balance patch where you just tweak a few numbers. The 'heroes as units' system is fundamentally hard to balance in a game where heroes grow on logarithmic scale and armies on linear scale. In hindsight it might seem silly to expect hero power progression that remains distinct for hero types and scales perfectly to plus infinity, but that's more less what people expected after huge maps of Heroes3, with caverns which morphed from an extra place to put loot (as initially designed) to a whole second world. It frustrates me to this day, because there are many very interesting design ideas in there.

Of course, All the initial games (Heroes I,II, III) were very incremental in design. All creatures from H1 made it to H2, all from H2 made it to H3. It had to change, it had to be re-imagined. If for no other reason that extra permutation of stats and abilities start feeling very same-y when the system doesn't have enough depth. It's easy to spot that, for example, level7 creatures used the 250 life, 30-40ish damage and growth 3/week template with little deviation. Heroes III felt the most template'y and elsewhere I made some very good points that Heroes II had much better design, especially spell balance. The most powerful spells in Heroes III are the first level ones - stuff like haste, slow scales extremely well with army size and you get mass version through an Expert magic skill.


H5 got better, much better - but the only thing holding it back is how long AI takes turns. It takes minutes(!) to process turn on a larger maps. The factions were way more varied(although a bit gimmicky), you can get used to 3d map(but it is still barely passable underground), and while some criticize ability to preview damage range/units killed - it makes more sense to have that available to every player equally. Also - the hero unit makes more sense than before - heroes get their own turn, only then you can cast spells or attack with it.

H3 spells are weird bunch, because 1st level ones are really really damn strong(haste, bless and slow especially, H5 fixed that by making initiative and speed two different parameters), middle is mediocre, and latter levels have few literally broken spells(town portal, dimension doors, resurrection, animate dead).


Yup, not having their own turns caused weird time artifacts, and issues like blinding the last unit and casting whatever spells you wish with no interruption. On the other hand I understand why they did it - it makes the game play faster.

Heroes V has an issue in that initiative is exponential. Units with high initiative can act several times more often than low initiative ones. This reduces rule clarity, and no even the extra track doesn't help much. For example it's no longer simple to figure out when the unit will act when hasted or slowed.

On the flipside, HOMM1 had a blissfully stupid magic system. If you had Knowledge 6, you could cast 6 Magic Arrows, 6 Blind spells, 6 Fireballs, and 6 Armageddons. And because high level spells had no secondary skill requirements, mopping up developed enemies was a terrible slog. On the upside, it was EASY to predict how many spells you could cast. Also, shrines found outside towns vere VERY interesting and sometimes of strategic importance - because all spells would be eventually forgotten with use.

If we're talking multiplayer balance, the elephant in the room is that HOMM was always a poor multiplayer game. It just wasn't designed as such. Long, sequential turns. Time-consuming battles that magnify the waiting problem (you can auto-combat but then you're playing suboptimally and throwing out the main draw of the game). You can play it in multiplayer, but anyone who insists Heroes was a great multiplayer game hasn't played a decent modern board game. Or Age of Wonders III, designed with balance in mind. "Serious" multiplayer rulesets remove several potentially game-breaking spells from the game (Town Portal, Dimension Door, Fly especially), and encourage using auto-combat.

Heroes II on the other hand has separate Mass Haste (level 3) and Mass Slow (4).

Initiative and Speed have an interesting interaction in Heroes IV. Remember how classic HOMM has morale which is basically worse version of Luck, because quite often there's nothing more you want to do with that unit at this time? Morale in HOMM4 made units act before all other units for which Morale didn't trigger.


> With fewer than 25,000 units sold, the Gizmondo was named by GamePro as the worst selling handheld console in history.[8]

> The Gizmondo was further overshadowed when Swedish press revealed criminal pasts of several executives, causing their resignations including Tiger Telematics CEO Carl Freer. Director of Gizmondo Europe Stefan Eriksson was involved in a Swedish criminal organisation, the "Uppsalamaffian" (the Uppsala mafia).[9] By February 2006, the company was forced into bankruptcy after amassing US$300 million debt, and the Gizmondo stopped production.[10] Weeks thereafter Eriksson crashed a rare Ferrari Enzo driving at 260km/h in California,[11] and was later jailed and subsequently deported for driving under the influence in connection with the crash and other criminal offenses.


LGR did a great video on the Gizmondo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv6UaHZxUys


Conker's Bad Fur Day is a brilliant game


I had to go read the wiki to verify you comment, I couldn’t believe I saw conkers on there. It was one of my favorite games as a kid. It was brilliant and had so many reference to pop culture. They ended up remaking it on the 360 and it just wasn’t the same. The matrix fight was one of my all time favorites and same with saving private Ryan.


The dynamic music changes! The wacky and brilliant enemies! The voice acting! The poop song!

And the ending somehow hit me in the gut hard.


That page describes the PS2 as technically superior to the Dreamcast.

Ah yes, all those technically superior jaggy polygons.


I mean, from a technical standpoint the PS2 has higher raw performance numbers: 300MHz vs. 200MHz CPU, 150MHz vs. 100MHz GPU, 32MB vs 16MB RAM, etc. Even factoring architecture differences, those are some large number differences. Of course, what developers actually DO with the added power is another story. Just like some later DC games looked better than early PS2 games, some of the later PS2 games would have been impossible to bring to the DC. And they did manage to eventually find a workaround for the lack of AA on the PS2 with those ugly bloom and "smear" filters. ;)


The DVD player was a very good advantage of the PS2.


A lot of games failure names strong competion on release. So if you want to release an indie game, january is recommended.




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