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The 10 worst game releases of all time

Even I proofread my work.

We all know the feeling. You’ve been hyped about a game since the studio first announced it, been following all the development, news, and trailers, bought the deluxe edition, and the release day is finally here.

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You sit down to play, and within hours, you realize the game isn’t worth the megabytes it’s printed on. So, let’s take a painful walk down memory lane of some of the worst game releases of all time.

10. Fallout 76 (2018)

Fallout 76 worst game releases of all time
Image: Bethesda

This one is probably the first failed game that comes to people’s minds when you talk about the worst game releases of all time. Whether that’s true or not stands to be seen, but it certainly was a monstrous stumble by Bethesda.

The failed game release was multifaceted in its mistakes. Of course, the most glaring issue was the completely unplayable game. Bugs-wise, it was riddled. Players found the wastelands unnavigable, quests completely broken, and the environment hostile, not due to the radiation but the broken code. As well as the rushed development, the game featured no NPCs and, therefore, no real storyline to speak of. A Bethesda RPG without a story — that’s like trying to make a cake without flour.

The list of problems making Fallout 76 one of Bethesda’s worst game releases of all time goes on and on. The multiplayer was broken, leaving players in an NPC-free wasteland with no friends. However, what really wound people up was the terrible merchandise supplied with the Deluxe Edition. Even if the game wasn’t playable, at least the merch could be decent. But it was not. What a fall from grace.

9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.t. The Extra Terrestrial
Screenshot: Atari

This is considered one of the worst game releases of all time, even today. In only five weeks, the one-man development team created a licensed ET video game that was so bad, the remaining unsold copies now reside in a pit in the Mexican desert. The game flopped, the developer hit rock bottom, and Atari, which was floundering, was crippled.

The premise of ET was simple: walk around a planet looking in holes for part of the phone the little alien needs to phone home. However, due to the wrap-around world design and the tendency to get stuck in the holes, the game quickly failed. It was way too complex and frustrating. Sales started well but resulted in complete failure as word of the terrible game spread. There will have been a lot of unhappy people that Christmas — none more than Atari.

8. Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)

worst game releases of all time
Screenshot: PC Invasion

I won’t hold Keanu Reaves accountable because the man is a living saint, but I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed in him. Thankfully, his role in Cyberpunk 2077 was purely acting and promotion. These elements aren’t what made Cyberpunk 2077 one of the worst game releases of all time. That was all down to CD Projekt RED.

Cyberpunk 2077 had an enormous amount of hype preluding its release. The game was first announced back in 2012 and not released for another eight years. What kind of development hell went on in those eight years must have been biblical. The product of almost a decade of work was a bland, broken, unsatisfying world that didn’t deliver on even a quarter of what it promised.

Apart from the game being so broken that it was physically unable to be played on most consoles, the actual game itself was flaccid. CD Projekt RED promised huge storylines with multiple pathways, huge amounts of customizability, and an endlessly explorable world. What we ended up with was a linear, kettled game akin to the usual swill Ubisoft pumps out with titles like Far Cry.

However, as a side note, CD Projekt RED does deserve commendation for its dedication to the game. Years later, they are still providing updates to quality of life and many other tweaks. The game will never be the large, free, open world they promised, but at least they didn’t abandon their game like so many other companies do.

7. Anthem (2019)

Anthem
Screenshot: Electronic Arts

EA wanted their own Destiny-style game, and so they proposed Anthem. Of course, the EA hype machine ensured everyone was talking about it, and it was visible everywhere. They promised an open world, customization, Destiny-style raids, and constant updates. What we got was one of EA’s worst game releases ever and an abandoned, half-hearted joke two years later.

Anthem was supposed to be grand and exciting. Big, open worlds with quests and bustling environments full of quests, NPCs, and other players to interact with. Instead, they produced a vapid world that was just collections of levels linked by endless loading screens. The bosses were unimaginative and spongy, and the challenges were simple collection quests.

EA and the studio promised to rectify one of their worst game releases of all time with solid work and correction. No Man’s Sky did it, and so could they. However, within two years, the team had abandoned the project, leaving hopeful gamers stranded in a dead, unfinished world.

6. Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017)

Star Wars Battlefront 2 worst game releases of all time
Image via Electronic Arts

The problems that came from Star Wars Battlefront 2’s re-release are mostly from typical EA greed. However, the actual game was a pale comparison to its monumental predecessor. The original Star Wars Battlefront from 2004 was a masterpiece with some fantastic multiplayer action that brought the battles of the franchise to life.

I feel that EA could have avoided having one of the worst game releases of all time had they not been so incredibly greedy with their game. The use of loot boxes and extra payable content was so nefarious that it changed the way they are allowed to be marketed forever. Belgium ruled them as gambling, and the US is close behind, making them illegal to be sold to minors.

Apart from the predatory pay-to-win microtransactions and loot boxes, the game itself just did not have the spark of the original game. The battles felt empty, the guns felt soft, and the brief moments of playing as a hero simply didn’t have the gravitas. However, over the years, there have been improvements, and they rolled back the money-grabbing. Now, it’s a game I wouldn’t ever recommend, but if it were offered for free, I would give it a play.

5. No Man’s Sky (2016)

No Mans Sky Many Ships In Space Battle
Image: Hello Games

Oh, No Man’s Sky, you shining beacon of hope for developers everywhere. You stalwart bastion of dedication and love. You Comeback King of the gaming universe. Few games have ever even attempted what No Man’s Sky has successfully pulled off, coming back from one of the worst game releases ever to being hailed as an indie revolution and benchmark for space games.

When a company like EA or Ubisoft drops the ball and releases another steaming bag of recycle bin code, I silently gloat at everyone who hasn’t learned yet. When I watch an indie developer with hopes, dreams, and real talent get sped through development by a conglomerate like Sony, it makes me wince. Hello Games had a dream, but Sony had a deadline, and the result was an unfinished game with so much wasted potential that even their endless universe model couldn’t hold it all.

I could write an essay on the development of No Man’s Sky, but most gamers already know it. What started out as a failed dream, not even slightly matching the developer’s vision, has become a masterpiece of space gaming. With years of dedication, the game has been pulled from the grave and is now more than worth buying.

4. Skull and Bones (2024)

ubisoft cancels three games skull and bones delayed featured image
Screenshot: Ubisoft

I think the AAAA title they gave to Skull and Bones wasn’t about its quality, but more likely an acronym for something I would get fired for writing on PC Invasion. To pull out the AAAA title and slap it on something as dreadful as Skull and Bones is hilarious and indicative of the whole “AAA” industry as it currently stands: a few over-inflated game companies with more money than God praising their own hollow and unoriginal dollar farms. I hope this game release finally opens up buyers’ eyes to what they’ve been paying for.

No hand-to-hand combat, no on-land exploration, no swordfights, and no shipboarding in a pirate game make it no longer a pirate game. This is the boat equivalent of Train Simulator. From the company that made Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag comes the worst pirate simulation game of all time. At $70, the mundanity and laziness shown by Skull and Bones is sickening.

3. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum (2023)

We couldn’t really have the worst game releases of all time list without featuring this absolute gem. Sometimes a game is just so bad, it wins the hearts of the gaming world and gets to be the butt of the year’s jokes. The response from the audience was so awful that Daedalic Entertainment ended up issuing an apology along with a lot of refunds. It would be sad if it weren’t so funny.

Making a game about Gollum was always going to be a challenge. He is the weakest, most pathetic, ugliest little toad in the whole series. Gollum is involved in no great storylines, battles, love affairs, or decisions. He has no real past to get excited about, no future to speak of, and no friends. The game captures this beautifully by making a game with no real quests, no storyline, no intrigue, no excitement. Oh, also, it is completely and utterly broken.

2. Superman 64 (1999)

Superman 64
Screenshot: Titus Interactive

It is a classic throwback to when Nintendo took a literal superhero and turned him into a hoop-flying dullard. Super strength? Yup. Laser eyes? Yup. Flight? Yup. Invincibility? Yup. What is the resulting game? None of these things. It is not only one of the worst game releases of all time but also an insult to the Man of Steel himself.

The gameplay is incredibly boring. The loop plays out as this: fly through hoops within the time limit, pick up a car within the time limit, and repeat. If you fail, you revert to the beginning. This alone isn’t enough to get it on the worst releases of all time list. What really solidifies it is the abysmal controls. The game is terrible, but being unable to control the Man of Steel himself created all-new levels of frustration.

1. Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing (2003)

Big Rigs Over The Road Racing worst game releases of all time
Image via AVGN

We all know the games that come out these days are clearly unfinished and about to have an 80GB update to rectify the shortcomings. Well, Big Rigs did it first. The development team got perhaps a quarter of the way through making the game and decided that was just about enough work for the day. Sadly, it appears the intern thought they were finished and sent it to the studio for distribution. The result is one of the worst game releases of the 2000s.

The problem with Big Rigs is that it is simply unfinished, and there is no way to fix that, unlike today. What you buy is what you get. Driving your truck through the environments was as far as the game went. However, the environments weren’t finished, either. None of the buildings, textures, or models are solid, so you can just cruise straight through them. Hills pose no threat, and your truck can just plow forever on with nothing standing in its way.

It is also the worst racing game of all time. The game gives opponents to race against, but without fail, they will stall at the start line. This is a racing game with no opponents, no checkpoints, no timer, and no tracks. Truly a masterpiece.


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Author
Leo Gillick
Leo is a Freelance Writer for PC Invasion. He has a degree in English Literature and Film Studies and more hours buried into videogames than he cares to admit. He has worked extensively in the Videogame and Travel writing industry but, as they say, get a job doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life. He uses his writing as a means to support indefinite global travel with the current five year plan seeing him through Latin America.