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- After a steady string of hits with its Project Gotham Racing series, the disappointing sales figures of Blur and then their attempt at a James Bond game, Blood Stone: 007, killed Bizarre Creations outright. Dissing Mario Kart in the former's TV commercial certainly didn't help matters.
- 007 Legends was critically panned and sold poorly, eventually leading the last 007 game developer for Activision, Eurocom, to collapse out of game development entirely after 25 years. In response to the failure of 007 Legends, Activision pulled all of the 007 games they distributed from various online stores (including their own and Steam), and subsequently dropped the 007 video game license.
- The Interactive Fiction producer Infocom attempted to branch out into new fields with its relational database program Cornerstone (indeed, the whole original plan was to just use the games as a stepping-stone to more profitable business software). Although Cornerstone received good reviews, it was an expensive flop, and helped lead to Infocom being sold to Activision, whose mismanagement quickly finished running the company into the ground.
- Activision's milking of the Guitar Hero brand ultimately brought Neversoft under. At first, it was with the Tony Hawk games, which had one release per year since the 1999 original all the way to Proving Ground (which came out in 2007); but then, Activision found a new Cash Cow Franchise and handed it to Neversoft, with whom they would proceed to milk the cow dry.
The oversaturation of the music game market, coupled with the lukewarm reception to GH Van Halen and Warriors of Rock (which was better received by comparison, but not a runaway hit like the first entries of the series) ended up costing them more money than they bargained for, resulting in losses for Activision, several Neversoft employees being laid off, Budcat Creations (which converted the series' games to PlayStation 2) going under, and Guitar Hero dying as a franchise until the 2015 reboot.
The last thing Neversoft did as an independent studio was the Alien Invasion game mode for Call of Duty: Ghosts, which subsequently led to Activision closing Neversoft and merging its staff into Infinity Ward.
- [PROTOTYPE 2] sold below expectations against both its rival In FAMOUS 2 and its own predecessor, which coupled with the poor sales of Crash: Mind Over Mutant led to the eventual shutdown of Radical Entertainment (which was later revived on a much smaller scale after layoffs of much of its staff).
- Following Neversoft's re-assignment to the Guitar Hero games, Activision entrusted Robomodo, an independent studio founded by Midway Games and EA Chicago alumni in the late 2000s, to take up the mantle of producing games for the Tony Hawk skateboarding franchise. This partnership ultimately turned out to curse the relatively-young studio into a short, wretched lifespan; as their first game was the infamous Tony Hawk: Ride. Ride required an expensive, poorly-designed, motion-control based skateboard peripheral to play the game; and was widely panned for that reason. Not taking the hint, Activision and Robomodo made a direct sequel to that game, Tony Hawk: Shred, which flopped pitifully and put the Tony Hawk series in its first stint of hibernation for a few years. In the meantime, Robomodo worked on mostly mobile entries and a digital remake of the first two Tony Hawk entries in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. Robomodo was called back to make Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5, a direct sequel to the treasured first four entries; only for the result to turn out to be a hot slopfest rampant with bugs in addition to suffering from subpar design and presentation. Pro Skater 5's critical mauling from reviewers and fans as one of the worst games ever made proved to both derail the series for good and destroy Robomodo in the process, with the company closing its doors a year after the game's release.
- Troika Games was already showing signs of trouble even before the release of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. The game used the new-and-powerful-at-the-time Source Engine, but were contractually obligated to withhold the game's release until Half-Life 2 was released. Once the game actually came out, it quickly became apparent that it was positively riddled with Game-Breaking Bugs (and in spite of the forced delay they could have used to fix bugs, the request to do so was denied by Activision), leading to the players having to make patches to fix things. As should be expected, the final sales total for Bloodlines was lukewarm at best, forcing Troika to file for bankruptcy in early 2005.
- Capcom Production Studio 8, the American studio behind Maximo: Ghosts to Glory and its sequel, was disbanded after the flop of Final Fight Streetwise.
- The near-simultaneous combination of so-so sales for Ōkami and the complete bomb of God Hand (despite both becoming cult classics) led Capcom to close Clover Studios shortly after their release, though they would later reform as PlatinumGames and find success as an independent third-party developer.
- The indifferent critical reaction towards Dead Rising 4, along with underwhelming sales of the game, saw Capcom Studios Vancouver shuttered in September 2018.
Disney Interactive Studios
Before giving up on the video game publishing business entirely in mid-2016 outside of mobile games, Disney had a rather bad history of video game companies shutting down under their watch:
- Buena Vista Interactive folded after TRON 2.0 wasn't the blockbuster they hoped for. Disney had been reluctant to make it in the first place, and gave it very little advertising, and even less in the way of support and bugfixes. The most extensive patch for the game is a Game Mod put out by LDSO, a group of very dedicated fans. On the other hand, the game's Cult Classic status played a role in getting TRON added to Kingdom Hearts II and getting TRON: Legacy green-lit.note
- Due to mounting costs of running the Disney Infinity series and related toy line, Disney exited out of the self-publishing console games business by shutting down Disney Interactive Studios. The Disney Infinity series and toy line ended in June 2016. Avalanche Software and its staff would escape permanent closure by being purchased from Disney by, of all companies, their longtime rival Warner Bros., which will develop games based on Disney's IPs through Avalanche.
- Junction Point Studio, developer of Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, closed due to the commercial failure of the latter. Warren Spector had previously said a third Epic Mickey would be doubtful, especially given Disney's shift in its gaming sector strategy from console to mobile games.
- Just months after acquiring LucasArts in its multi-million dollar deal with Lucasfilm, Disney disintegrated that company as well, and all of LucasArts' works in progress were immediately cancelled. It probably didn't help that the company's last release before being shut down was the horribly received Kinect Star Wars. Unfortunately, this also meant that the highly anticipated Star Wars 1313 was given the axe as well.
- Disney formed Touchstone Games in 2007 as an attempt to release games for older audiences (much like its namesake division). It released only one game, the 2008 reboot of Turok, before its poor commercial performance and mixed reviews caused Disney to quietly shelve the label; the Turok franchise would go to DreamWorks Animation a few years later.
As discussed by Jim Sterling in his Jimquisition episode "Unicronic Arts", this has been a disturbingly frequent trend for studios under the Electronic Arts banner for many years—studio is created or acquired by EA, and then closed down or absorbed after a sub-par or outright bad game, which may or may not be EA's fault in the first place. Examples include:
- Mass Effect: Andromeda ended up doing this to Bioware Montreal. While the game received mixed-to-good reviews and sold fairly well, every aspect of the game was receiving criticism from fans, and even many of the game's supporters took issue with parts of the game. The multitude of glitches that broke the game or made it unplayable for that file, Off-Model facial animations, questionable voice acting, and the direction of the story made it extremely controversial among fans, and that doesn't include the myriad of political debates surrounding the game. Despite the team's attempt to fix this with patches, the game was abandoned barely six months after its release, with no plans for DLC or even a sequel, with any story plans being reduced to novels.
Worse yet, one former employee revealed several facts about the game's development, which had collapsed into a textbook Troubled Production. These elements included facial animations being outsourced rather than done in-house, EA forcing them to use the Frostbite engine despite it not being designed for anything that is not an FPS, and a staff that had never really worked on a big game before. The kicker was that the game we got was made in roughly 13 months, despite being in production since 2013, since the original vision of the game had to be dropped less than two years before release, forcing the game to be rushed to meet the 2017 deadline, which was after several delays already. As a result, Bioware Montreal was shut down in July of the same year, and fully absorbed by EA Motive, while developers on Twitter confirmed that the Mass Effect IP was back in the hands of Edmonton.
- Acclaimed Need for Speed and Skate developer EA Black Box was shut down in 2013 after Need for Speed: The Run underwhelmed critics and players alike. Black Box made the well-liked early 2000s installments of the Need for Speed series (Hot Pursuit 2's PlayStation 2 version, the Underground series, and Most Wanted 2005 in particular) but after Need for Speed: Carbon they'd slowly slipped into mediocrity. Skate was left an Orphaned Series, while Need for Speed was eventually handed to Ghost Games (which itself is the result of EA Gothenburg and several Criterion Games employees joining together).
- The Def Jam Series of fighting games started with two surprise hits, but Def Jam Icon failed to match either game's success, leading to the demise of EA Chicago.
- EA Sports Big, makers of the SSX and EA Sports Street series, saw the beginning of the end come with NBA Street Vol. 2. It was the most successful game that the studio had ever made and is still remembered as one of the greatest basketball video games of all time... but unfortunately, its success caused EA to redirect the studio's efforts towards making more games like it, canceling other planned titles (such as Cranked, a downhill mountain biking racing game) in favor of turning Street into a Cash Cow Franchise with annualized sequels and FIFA and NFL spinoffs. As the Street series saw its creativity and spirit sucked out of it with each churned-out sequel, things went downhill fast, and in 2008, EA Sports Big was shuttered and replaced with EA Sports Freestyle (itself short-lived). This interview with Steven Rechtschaffner, the head of EA Sports Big (among many other things over the course of his long career), goes into more detail, as does this video by James Tyler of Cleanprincegaming.
- Maxis, after having endured years of creative control exerted by EA management and seeing the departure of its long-serving co-founder Will Wright, was finally taken out back and shot in March 2015 after SimCity (2013)'s critical failure and the mediocre reception towards The Sims 4 (the large amount of flak both games received during their respective launches couldn't had helped much either); both events led to the demise of its primary Emeryville Studio. Maxis' subsidiaries The Sims Studio and EA Salt Lake were realigned to become EA's immediate subsidiaries. The controversial launch of SimCity 2013 in particular is also believed to have played a part in the resignation of John Riccitiello, who was the company's CEO at the time.
- Mythic Entertainment, the studio behind the popular MMORPGs Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Onlinenote , was closed a few months after the release of Dungeon Keeper on mobile devices, a game which quickly became notorious for its aggressive microtransaction model and cavalier approach to its source material.
- Ultima IX and then the unreleased Ultima X destroyed Origin Systems. Electronic Arts dropped all support for IX during production and still demanded they release the extremely buggy version on time, then they cancelled all of Origin's future projects when the game bombed, eventually causing Richard Garriott to leave the company. Despite this, they later tried to make a tenth game, only for EA to relocate development from Texas to California for no particular reason midway through development, leaving those developers who couldn't make the move due to family issues unemployed - and it was apparently a significant percentage of who was left at that point, since it lead to the game's cancellation and Origin's dissolution in June of 2004.
- While The Saboteur was the last game of Pandemic Studios, it was the abysmal Development Hell for the eventually cancelled The Dark Knight tie-in game that pushed EA to shut down the studio.
- Victory Games was set up by EA in 2010 to handle production of the C&C reboot (originally the sequel to Generals). A year after its formation, the studio rebranded itself as BioWare Victory, but changed it back a year later. The development of C&C caused intensely negative reaction when it was revealed that the game would use a free-to-play model, and wouldn't feature a single-player storyline, instead focusing on an economy-based multiplayer experience. EA President Frank Gibeau ended up apologizing to fans for the whole debacle, and things seemed to be progressing. However, a year later, the project was cancelled and the studio was closed, with its marketing manager writing in an open letter that the intensely negative feedback over the alpha version convinced them that they weren't making something that people wanted to play.
- The one-two punch of Dead Space 3 and Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel crippled developer Visceral Games, followed up by the finishing blow of Battlefield Hardline. Dead Space 3 and The Devil's Cartel were both widely disliked third installments that ended their respective franchises due to poor sales; Dead Space 3 in particular was especially decried due to its changes to the formula (microtransactions, shift from horror to action, addition of online co-op) and EA's unrealistic sales expectations (5 million copies, which was more than what the first two Dead Space games sold combined). This was then followed by Battlefield Hardline, a spinoff to the Battlefield series which received lukewarm reviews and failed to make a notable impact in sales. Hardline would turn out to be the final game released by Visceral; despite being tasked to develop a single-player action-adventure Star Wars video game, meddling from both EA and Lucasfilm over the quality and direction of the project lead to EA scrapping the current project, closing down Visceral, and moving the Star Wars project to another studio in the process.
- The modest reception given to Command & Conquer: Renegade resulted in the termination of Westwood Studios, and the rest of the C&C series going to EA's Los Angeles office; the last Command & Conquer game developed by any member of the original Westwood team was Command & Conquer: Generals, which came out just a year after Renegade.
The Los Angeles office (renamed Danger Close Studios and assigned with developing games for the Medal of Honor revival series) was later shut down after the flop of Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
- The hugely expensive but poorly received Shadowrun Xbox 360 game took out FASA Interactive in a matter of months, dashing hopes for a much-anticipated MechWarrior sequelnote . Shortly thereafter Microsoft sold the rights back to one of the founders for a ridiculously low price just to wash their hands of the matter, and MechWarrior Online was born. However, unexpectedly, it came out in a year where no less than four other mech games were launched, at least one of which was also a free-to-play MMO...
- Executive Meddling within Microsoft Studios Europe led to the closure of Lionhead Studios, cancelling the long-awaited Fable Legends in the process (which had been stuck in Development Hell for almost four years) and putting the Fable series in limbo.note Said meddling also took the life of Danish development studio Press Play, canceling the development of their Project Knoxville game as well.
- Despite Halo Wars being a success, the troubled production behind it caused Microsoft to shut down Ensemble Studios before the game even launched.
- The Sega Dreamcast Killer App Shenmue, while well received, was so much of a Sunk Cost Fallacy that it served as a significant contributor to Sega leaving the hardware business. The game's development cost so much that every Dreamcast owner would have had to buy the game twice in order to recoup the budget (which is reported to be around $47-$70 million dollars in total — at the time it was released, it could have been the most expensive game ever made). The commercial failure of this game, plus the existing debt that Sega had piled up from their slew of failed hardware in the back half of The '90s (with the exception of the Game Gear, each hardware endeavor following the successful Sega Genesis — Sega CD, Sega 32X, Sega Nomad, Sega Saturn — were all financial flops), brought Sega's run as a first-party developer to a close, with the Dreamcast becoming the last home console produced by Sega. What was left of the old Sega survived as an independent third-party developer for a while, before Sammy Corporation hammered the final nail into its coffin by acquiring and subsequently "retooling" the company.
- Yu Suzuki also did not escape Shenmue's aftermath unscathed. The man who created several of Sega's most iconic arcade franchises (OutRun, Virtua Fighter, et al.) quietly slid into obscurity afterward. He originally envisioned Shenmue as a fifteen-part series; ambitious if not wildly unsustainable. However, showing that there are fans for everything, Yu Suzuki (who, as it turned out, left Sega-Sammy in 2008 and started his own independent game company, Ys Net) took the next part of Shenmue to Kickstarter, where it raised a whopping $6.3 million at the end of the campaign. So it appears that the next part of the Shenmue saga is coming after all—hopefully he has smaller ambitions for the title this time around given the smaller budget.
- Sega Studios Australia (which was originally founded as an Australian branch for UK developer Creative Assembly) was shut down following the tepid critical and commercial reception to London 2012: The Official Video Game (it didn't help that the game they developed prior to London 2012, Stormrise, was critically panned and sold poorly, and another branch of Sega had already released a much more well-received London 2012 tie-in months earlier). The high cost of running a game studio in the namesake studio's country may have also a contributing factor for the studio's closure.
- The negative reception to Golden Axe: Beast Rider and the Iron Man movie tie-in games were the main cause of death for Sega Studios San Francisco.
- Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon developer Sega Technical Institute disbanded after the cancellation of the Troubled Production that was Sonic X-treme.
- The critical and commercial twin disappointments of the notorious Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and NiGHTS: Journey Of Dreams led to the death of Sonic Team's international offshoot Sonic Team USA (later called Sega Studios USA in later years), as the studio was dissolved and its staff were folded back into the main Sonic Team studio in Japan. As a further consequence, this also cost Sonic Team their autonomy as a developer, as the studio has only produced Sonic games since then (save for the occasional Puyo Puyo title, and even then, only a few of those titles has been released outside of Japan). It's worth noting that Sonic Team USA was established specifically to avoid this, with the studio producing regular Sonic games while Sonic Team back in Japan made original titles; though ironically enough, the main studio was responsible for Sonic 2006, while Sonic Team USA was responsible for Journey of Dreams.
Sony Computer/Interactive Entertainment
- Evolution Studios, developer of the World Rally Championship video games and the MotorStorm racing series, was torpedoed by their debut racing game for the PlayStation 4, Driveclub. Intended as the console's flagship racing title at launch, it wound up delayed by almost a year, and even with those delays, the game had a slew of problems at launch (its much-hyped online mode in particular was unplayable for weeks) that badly hurt its overall reception and sales in the long term. Not too long after the game's release, half of the company's staff were laid off, with the remaining half re-tooled towards supporting Driveclub's post-launch services; this subsequently led to the studio closing up shop outright a mere year later. It didn't help that their previous game before Driveclub, Motorstorm: Apocalypse, ended up getting disappointing sales despite solid reviews—a result of the game (which used natural disasters as a major theme for its environments and racetracks) being delayed by several weeks and receiving the Invisible Advertising treatment in most territories in the wake of the then-recent 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan (which happened five days before its originally scheduled release date).
- Zipper Interactive, developers of the well-received SOCOM: US Navy Seals series on the PlayStation 2, were derailed by their PS3 online-only MMO FPS MAG, which received low sales in spite of decent reviews. The studio tried to bounce back with a fourth entry to their SOCOM series, but that received mediocre reviews and also flew under the radar in sales. Their final game, the PlayStation Vita launch title Unit 13, failed to make much of an impact either, which decisively put the studio on the chopping block.
- While Paradigm Entertainment's Stuntman: Ignition was by no means a flop (the game was one of THQ's top-selling titles during Q4 2007), THQ's financial losses due to it not meeting their sales forecast prompted them to shut the studio down without warning.
- THQ's own fall into bankruptcy started with the uDraw GameTablet accessory, which was developed for the Wii and released in 2010 to modest success, leading to an "HD" version of it being brought to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 a year later. These versions were poorly received and abysmal sales caused their net income to plummet. Further hitting the company hard was the decline of the children's gaming market, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship video game rights being sold to Electronic Arts. The last straw came with Darksiders II, which sold only 1.4 million copies and failed to turn a profit for THQ. The company tried to stay afloat by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but THQ's restructuring plan was rejected by a bankruptcy court, effectively dissolving the publisher and causing its properties to be auctioned off. Nordic Games bought the THQ label in June 2014, allowing Nordic to publish games with the THQ branding; they soon after renamed themselves to THQ Nordic.
Other Publishers and Developers
- Duke Nukem Forever killed 3D Realms and destroyed George Broussard's reputation without even being made... or more accurately, by not being made. And just to twist the knife, after 3D Realms imploded, the game was handed to Gearbox Software by 2K Games, who only needed one year to finish where Broussard and his team had left off after twelve years in and out of development. According to Word of God, the game was already finished; Broussard's perfectionism and the Take-Two lawsuit were the primary factors that kept it from coming out anywhere close to on-time.
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a modest hit for 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, selling just over 1 million copies since its release in February 2012, but this number was well short of the three million copies the game needed to sell in order to cover development and loan costs. As a result, 38 and BHG laid off their entire staff a few months after the game's release, effectively dissolving both companies and killing a planned Amalur-based MMORPG (codenamed Copernicus) in its cradle.
- The twin flops of BMX XXX and Turok Evolution killed Acclaim in 2004. The former not only garnered a lot of controversy due to its attempt at using sexual content to sell copies, but it angered Dave Mirra enough to sue them because he didn't want his name associated with it (it was originally an installment in the Dave Mirra BMX series, and Acclaim continued using Mirra's name on advertisements even after he asked them not to). The latter suffered from an awful PlayStation 2 port, poor design decisions, and an infamously botched "Name Your Kid Turok" marketing campaign. The company was briefly revived two years later on a smaller scale and In Name Only, to which their new online games received significant backlash for being bug-ridden. The retooled Acclaim was bought out by Playdom in May 2010, only to be acquired by Disney a few months later, effectively burying the Acclaim name a second time given Disney's aforementioned bad habit of shutting down newly acquired game studios. Ironically, Disney had published a Turok reboot from a different company just a couple of years before.
- While producing a glut of bad licensed games in the early 2000s no doubt contributed to the demise of Argonaut Games, the finishing blow came with the notoriously poor Catwoman tie-in game. It ultimately proved the final product developed under the Argonaut name, with the company going bankrupt a few months after it was released.
- ...struggled for years in the wake of The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, which, along with an insider trading scandal and a general disrespect for programmers and driving them out of the firm, led to Warner Communications firing Atari boss Ray Kassar (who never worked in entertainment again), and then selling the developer. Atari was also floundering by the release of the 5200 (which was one of the things that led to the crash). Their later console, the Atari 7800, was in fact a low-budget console that was profitable but distant from the mainstream console business. The final two consoles published by them, the Atari Lynx and Atari Jaguar, were originally not even made by them, but by British game developer Epyx, who spent years developing both and allowed Atari to release them to the mass market. This was a shortsighted attempt by Atari to return to the console business, as a combination of incredibly difficult-to-develop-for architecture, shoddy build quality, an archaic controller design, and the inertia enjoyed by Nintendo and Sega, doomed the Jaguar to ultimate failure, and it turned out to be the straw that finally broke Atari's back. You may still see the Atari name today, but that's just for marketing purposes — Atari Corporation died with the Jaguar, and the name was bought by French publisher Infogrames as part of a push into the worldwide market.
- Atari's arcade division, which was retained by Warner and renamed Atari Games, continued to trudge along with the occasional arcade hit such as Gauntlet and San Francisco Rush until Midway Games purchased the company in 1996. When Midway exited the arcade business in 2001, the Atari Games unit, by then renamed Midway Games West, struggled to publish a successful home console title before bowing out with Dr. Muto, which got great reviews but bombed in sales. Not long after its release, Midway shuttered Midway Games West, putting the final nail in the original Atari's coffin.
- The new Atari's US branch have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in hopes of separating from their French parent in a revival attempt to be its own company again. Should it succeed, Atari plans to seek investments to grow in mobile and digital gaming markets in not just licensing Atari properties, but developing them as well. In addition, they are attempting to reenter the video game console market with a new console: the Atari VCS.
- Since 2015, Atari has begun a fire sale of many of its brands. For example, THQ acquired Alone in the Dark, while Humongous Entertainment was sold to Tommo.
- The failure of Fury, an MMORPG designed by Australian company Auran nearly brought down the entire company, and it forced them out of game development. They are now an extremely limited train simulator developer.
- Fledgling developer Big Red Button Entertainment started and nearly ended their career with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. The table scraps about the game's development cycle that have been gathered and pieced together illustrated total chaos behind the scenes, with many BRB staffers leaving or getting fired throughout and the game being constantly compromised from its original creation at the behest of multiple parties. Upon Rise of Lyric's release, critics and fans panned the game across the board (to date, it's the absolute worst reviewed Sonic game, with Metacritic and GameRankings metascores even lower than Sonic 2006), costing Sega and BRB millions of dollars due to poor sales (the combined sales of Rise of Lyric and fellow Boom tie-in Shattered Crystal only reached 490,000 units worldwide, making it the poorest-selling Sonic game to date note ). While BRB has managed to avoid outright closure, the only games that they have announced to be in development are VR games.
- Black Hole Entertainment went out of business after developing Might and Magic Heroes VI. There was also an alleged falling out with publisher Ubisoft.
- Blue Fang Games, best known for the Zoo Tycoon series, saw their fortunes come to an end in 2009, when their contract with Microsoft expired. This resulted in the studio struggling with several mobile and social media games before finally closing up shop in 2011 after many of those games underwhelmed critics and gamers alike. Microsoft released a new Zoo Tycoon game on Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2013 with Frontier Developments as the developer. A Windows 8 and Windows Phone app called Zoo Tycoon: Friends came out a year afterward, but was quickly closed due to server problems.
- Blue Omega Entertainment, a small film company from Maryland, was dismantled just one month after Damnation (their only video game release) flopped with critics.
- The back-to-back commercial failures of LawBreakers and Radical Heights killed Boss Key Productions, though it was the former game that did the real damage; in fact, Cliff Bleszinski admitted that Radical Heights was rushed out in a last-ditch attempt to recoup the losses from LawBreakers. Not too long after the studio's closure, Bleszinski announced his retirement from game development.
- While NieR has since been re-evaluated as a classic, at the time of its release it met an underwhelming reception that caused its developer Cavia to close and be absorbed into AQ Interactive, who in turn got bought out by Marvelous Entertainment. Eventually PlatinumGames got their hands at the NieR franchise, with its sequel NieR: Automata being a major Breakthrough Hit and Sleeper Hit for the Drakengard franchise and is considered to be one of the best games released in 2017.
- Check Six Studios and Equinoxe Digital Entertainment were two developers that worked together on Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly in 2002. That game's unfortunate quality killed both of them before they could even get off the ground, and Spyro: A Hero's Tail would be handled by Eurocom instead.
- Cinemaware Corporation went bankrupt when the Full Motion Video remake of It Came From The Desert for the TurboGrafx-CD went way over budget. While NEC's stake in the company helped ensure that the game was released, it would be many years before Cinemaware would be revived as an essentially new company.
- Cing, developer of adventure games such as Trace Memory and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the Nintendo DS, declared bankruptcy less than a year after the commercial failure of their Wii game Little King's Story, which was intended to be their big breakthrough on consoles.
- The Amiga CD32 was planned for American release by Commodore, but a patent dispute got in the way, and the company eventually filed for bankruptcy several months later, in part due to the lost (by law) sales.
- After the abysmal flop of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, which also managed to take Paramount's second Tomb Raider movie with it, Eidos made it so Core Design couldn't make any more Tomb Raider games. This led to Core's boss Jeremy Heath-Smith having to walk away from the developer with his tail between his legs, and Core would struggle with a few mediocre handheld games before being sold off to Rebellion and rebranded as "Rebellion Derby". They were promptly taken down after the release of the critically savaged Rogue Warrior.
- The mixed critical reviews and poor sales of the episodic title Watchmen: The End is Nigh resulted in Deadline Games filing for bankruptcy only two months after its first episode released. Their financial woes had been compounded by an inability to get publishers on-board with any of their other projects, which included a sequel to their earlier Total Overdose, a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired shooter called Faith and a .45, and a game based around the final days of drug lord Pablo Escobar.
- The two-man development studio Digital Homicide was known for many low-quality releases on Steam, but none were more notorious than the 2014 release The Slaughtering Grounds, which received attention thanks to a scathing video review from Jim Sterling. Rather than take the criticism to heart, the duo attempted to sue Sterling for slander, and then later filed lawsuits and requests for the identities of about 100 other Steam users who posted negative comments about their games. The Steam user lawsuit forced Valve's hand, and the company decided to end their shenanigans once and for all by delisting DH's entire game catalog and blacklisting them from the service. Their finances and reputation destroyed, DH dropped their Steam lawsuit (and had their suit against Sterling rejected in court) and retreated to selling their games through smaller distribution services.
- The failure of One Must Fall Battlegrounds due to a host of design problems after seven years of development meant that its developers, Diversions Entertainment, were completely incapable of recouping losses and forced to close their doors after its abysmal performance.
- The failure of the 2-D fighting game Beast's Fury also permanently tarnished the reputation of its developer Evil Dog Productions, who were known for their online Flash games like Road of the Dead. The project — which was intended by Evil Dog's leader Ryhan Stevens as a sort of Take That! to Skullgirls — fell apart right from its inception in 2013. It staggered through a Troubled Production rife with poor money management, Skewed Priorities, and underpaid voice actors and animators. The final nail in the coffin for Evil Dog, however, was how they publicly treated criticism like the devil. It reached the point where the developers were attacking users on the official Skullgirls forum Skullheart... one of which being Skullgirls' developer, Mike Z. Evil Dog quickly gained notoriety and scorn among the fighting game community, who would then refuse to support their crowdfunding campaigns. The developers — who were now ridden of any respect or support whatsoever from their fanbase — cancelled the game in 2016. In the wake of the game's dissolution, plenty of animators and voice actors gave insight regarding the drama behind the scenes, and — along with campaign backers — set out to expose Stevens' incompetence and demand refunds en masse.
- Developer FireForge Games, already dealing with outstanding debts to its partial owner Tencent and a lawsuit filed by Razer alleging money paid to them to create a MOBA was funneled into making a different MOBA for Tencent, ended up filing for bankruptcy only three days after the release of their critically panned tie-in video game for the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.
- Lair is commonly thought to have killed Factor 5. While its direct financial impact is somewhat overstated (in fact, in a a 2018 post-mortem, the company's president insisted Lair was eventually profitable), it did kill Factor 5's exclusive game agreement with Sony, which came back to bite Factor 5 in the ass when the publisher of an unannounced Superman game died and the company had no project to fall back on. The CEO, Achim Moller, liquidated all of the studio's assets and officially closed up shop in January 2011.
- Haze was a high-profile PlayStation 3 flop which bankrupted its developer, Free Radical. The company managed to hold off a more permanent demise by selling themselves to Crytek and becoming Crytek UK. Crytek UK itself collapsed later in 2014 amid reports of employee backlash over Crytek not paying them adequately, as well as corporate restructuring that saw much of its staff being terminated and the Homefront series being sold to Deep Silver. This move may have also doomed a fourth TimeSplitters game.
- Before the rise of Madden NFL as the be-all and end-all of all pro football video games, Front Page Sports Football was the king of these games on PC. Its main selling points included thousands of stock plays, in-depth statistics, real-life NFL players (from the 1995 version onward), and customizable leagues that allowed players to manage their teams in what's now known as dynasty mode. But from the 1996 version onward, the game became buggier and buggier with each subsequent release; FPS Football 96, for instance, had one week of games taking TWO HOURS to simulate, and homogenized draft picks where the top pick would be similar in talent to the last pick in the first round. Front Page Sports parent Sierra's tendency to rush-release FPS Football titles was the root of it all, and when the series was rebranded as Sierra Sports NFL Football Pro in 1999, that game was so buggy it got recalled. Not long after, the planned 2000 version never released when Sierra closed four of its studios, Front Page Sports included, in a reorganization of the company.
- Gaslamp Games came out of nowhere in 2011 with Dungeons Of Dredmor, a roguelike that is also an Affectionate Parody of the genre and of fantasy tropes. It was well received for being enjoyable by both casual and hardcore gamers and gained a few DLC and additional content, plus tons of mods by fans. Gaslamp's next game, Clockwork Empires, an ambitious strategy game, was released on Steam's Early Access in 2014, but something went wrong along the way. The game was finally released near the end of 2016, but in an Obvious Beta state and a while later it became clear that the developers abandoned the project and went silent on all media accounts. From what little transpired, it seems that some of them don't work at Gaslamp anymore and the company itself may now be just an empty shell.
- Advent Rising was meant to be part of a multimedia franchise which would include a trilogy of games (including one on the PSP), but its mixed critical reaction and poor sales spelled a quick end for GlyphX Games, the game-making subsidiary of the graphic designer studio GlyphX Inc.
- Poor sales of both the Terminator Salvation tie-in game and the 2009 Bionic Commando led to Square Enix doing what can only be described as "death by trolling" on GRIN's Final Fantasy XII spin-off project Fortress, killing the entire company. This eventually lead to the creation of OVERKILL Software, best known for Payday The Heist and PAYDAY 2. Both games have references to GRIN and its demise (the character of "Wolf" in particular, voiced by and heavily based on one of the two founders, essentially went postal because his company died the same way GRIN did in reality), showing that there's still at least some bitterness remaining.
- GRIN Multimedia (not to be confused with the Bionic Commando Rearmed developer above) fell into bankruptcy following the commercial failure of its Kickstarted game project, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries. The property was later purchased by Rebellion, who promised to help the developers fulfill their Kickstarter reward obligations. It is still uncertain whether or not a second Woolfe chapter will be created to continue the story.
- GSC Game World, at least in the form that released S.T.A.L.K.E.R., was destroyed by the combination of the Troubled Production of making a proper sequel to that game and mounting financial difficulties that the company had been struggling with from the beginning of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2's development. Surprisingly enough, this actually wasn't enough to kill the game itself, as the remaining skeleton crew of developers kept working on the game even when they didn't receive any payment or financial compensation for several months. The game was only killed off officially about six months later in December 2011, as the former CEO of GSC, Sergei Grigorovich, who still held the license for the series, refused to allow the development of the game to continue. After several former employees went on to found Vostok Games (and a brief controversy surrounding another developer, Union Studio, which attempted to gain credibility for a crowdsourcing attempt by falsely claiming to also have former STALKER devs), Grigorovich reopened GSC Game World in 2014, releasing a sequel to/remake of Cossacks European Wars in 2016 and announcing in May 2018 that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was back in development.
- Famously in the UK (thanks to coverage from The BBC), the development of the "mega-games" Psyclapse and Bandersnatch brought down Imagine Software in 1983, one of the biggest and most successful software companies of the day. It was compounded by how the company was spending silly money on advertising, bad investments and badly thought-out attempts to outwit their rivals by buying up all available duplicating capacity. However, former employee Bruce Everiss, upon becoming an Orwellian Editor, would rather make you think piracy killed Imagine instead of incompetence (in spite of having acknowledged the true causes of its downfall himself in 1984).
- Indie Built, formerly Access Games, known for the Tex Murphy detective game series and the Amped snowboarding games, became one of the first casualties of the seventh console generation, shutting its doors in April 2006, a few months after Amped 3 severely underperformed.
- As detailed in this French video dealing with the twilight years of Irem, Super R-Type ended up killing Irem's USA division. The division massively overproduced the game, expecting it to sell "at least 250,000 copies" due to being a North American launch title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In the end, 300,000 copies were produced, but only 50,000 were actually sold.
- Despite its critical and commercial success, the strenuous development of BioShock Infinite caused Ken Levine to walk away from Irrational Games, shutting it down and restructuring it into a heavily scaled-back studio called Ghost Story Games that would focus on smaller-scale stories as opposed to expansive AAA titles like the BioShock series.
- Kabam Beijing was closed after Legacy of Zeus performed poorly.
- LJN struggled to stay afloat following their toy division's collapse in 1990, releasing one disastrous licensed video game after another, with the most high-profile flops being the Back to the Future tie-in games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The last straw, however, came with the tie-in game for Spider-Man: The Animated Series for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis, which was criticized for lackluster sound effects, an overused storyline, unimpressive graphics, difficult gameplay and (in the case of the Super NES port) limited variety of villains and action moves Spider-Man could use. The brand, which was already being stained by the above problems, was removed from the Genesis port in favor of then-parent Acclaim to hide the fact that LJN was involved in the game's development, and both the tarnished reputation of LJN and poor sales sent the entire company to its mercy. Acclaim, who had bought the toymaker from MCA, finally closed LJN shortly after the publication of the game, and then revived the brand one more time for the Dreamcast racing game Spirit of Speed '37 in 2000; it was so poorly received that many people are convinced it was done to protect Acclaim's image. LJN would have probably been all but forgotten after this point if the Angry Video Game Nerd hadn't dusted off one of their games for his YouTube debut, with the company becoming a recurring feature in his videos.
- While controller manufacturer Mad Catz had already been slowly sinking in the late 2000s and early 2010s thanks to console manufacturers locking out the wireless protocols used to connect controllers, relegating them to the increasingly marginalised field of wired controllers, they were ultimately finished off by the costs involved in helping to create Rock Band 4, which severely undersold compared to expectations.
- The piss-poor Empire Earth 3 led to not only the death of the franchise, but also Mad Doc Studios.
- Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror was the last game released by Micro Power. The expense of developing a game bigger than any of Micro Power's previous titles across four platforms (including the never-finished ZX Spectrum version), combined with the costs of licensing Doctor Who and producing the special memory cartridge required by the BBC Micro version surely contributed to the company's demise.
- Midway Games, who in the '80s and '90s was a dominant force in arcade games with the Mortal Kombat, Cruis'n and NBA Jam series, struggled to reverse their declining fortunes in the mid-2000s and eventually bought the publishing rights to Unreal Tournament III, which Midway viewed as its last effort to survive despite having no involvement in development (Unreal creator Epic Games did the work). Although the game was favorably reviewed and sold 1 million copies, it was far below the sales of its predecessor, Unreal Tournament 2004 (which was published by Atari); this was systemic of the company grappling with under-performing software sales, which disillusioned investors on the company's ability to reform itself and reverse their fortunes. Midway was also reeling from the decline of the arcade industry during this decade, which burned holes in the company's finances and prompted them to shut down its bread-and-butter arcade division to stave off further losses. The company being expelled from the New York Stock Exchange would permanently seal its fate: despite the success of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe a year later, the damage was done; the once-proud developer went bankrupt in 2009, and sold a majority of its assets (including the Mortal Kombat series) to Warner Bros..
- Mirage Technologies closed after Rise of the Robots and its sequel underwhelmed critics and audiences alike. While the graphics looked amazing for their time, everything else surrounding the games was a hot mess.
- In 1994, Motown Records established their own video game company, but only released two games: Bébé's Kids and Rap Jam: Volume One. Both games were critical disasters, and Motown Software lasted only 3 years before shutting down. That said, Bebe's Kids developer Radical Entertainment (whose own fate is described above in the Activision file) survived and went on to develop several more games.
- The Neverhood, creators of the self-titled The Neverhood and Skullmonkeys, closed up shop following the critical and commercial failure of BoomBots.
- Nintendo Software Technology, a subsidiary of Nintendo, had a hand in developing or assisted in developing a number of games and applications. They unfortunately were hit hard by the Troubled Production and eventual cancellation of Project H.A.M.M.E.R. on the Wii, which led to much of the developer's staff leaving and the subsidiary's considerable loss of favor within Nintendo themselves. Nintendo Software Technology's only roles since the fallout are being the primary Mario vs. Donkey Kong developer along with assisting development of other minor-to-major Nintendo projects. Nintendo Software Technology have not developed a major title in-house since Metroid Prime: Hunters for the Nintendo DS, which was released in 2005.
- nStigate Games (formerly Nihilistic Software) saw its future in big-time console and handheld game development come to an end after two weak 2012 PlayStation Vita releases in Resistance: Burning Skies and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified. In a telling move, the company announced the name change and their intent to abandon consoles for mobile gaming less than one month before Declassified's release and the accompanying flood of negative player and critic reviews.
- Omni Games was brought down by a lawsuit from Konami in 1982 due to the fact that they'd stolen sprites and sounds from the Konami game Scramble for a Mockbuster game called Scramble 2. The landmark ruling made it law that sprites and sounds counted as copyrighted, even if the source code is different. Hideo Kojima found the incident amusing enough to reference twice - in Snatcher, the building where the protagonist works is called "the Konami-Omni building", and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake mentions that the Zanzibar Land tank force is made up of a collaboration between "Chrysler, General Water and Omni Corporation".
- MechWarrior Online forever sullied Piranha Games's reputation; while the game itself was mostly decent at release, PGI's numerous public relations disasters — effectively cease-and-desisting the officially licensed Mechwarrior Living Legends note , adding controversial content to MWO that they promised would be left out, and getting themselves banned from Reddit for trying to seize control of subreddits — excessive monetization, and delays made players extremely wary of them. When PGI launched a crowdfunding campaign for Transverse, a suspiciously similar looking game to Star Citizen, the campaign flopped hilariously despite heavy promotion on the MWO website and sponsored ads; it only managed to get 2% of its $500,000 funding goal after a month, and that was after they dropped it from $1,000,000. The game's former publisher, Infinity Games Publishing, kicked the bucket shortly after PGI went independent; their only other published game, Mechwarrior Tactics, was a cash sink and killed them due to incompetent management and multiple developer switches. Beta versions of the game were sold on the website, which left early access players without refunds or servers to play on.
- Pi Studios was once one of the devleopers under publisher Activision's label, where they primarily assisted other developers, particularly in the Call of Duty series where they assisted with the development of United Offensive, 3, and World at War, as well as other work outside of Activision such as previous-gen versions of or spinoffs from the Rock Band series and Mercenaries 2... then they took a heavy hit after working on the Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode from the 2009 Wolfenstein, the result of which was Activision eventually dropping them.
Despite this, Pi Studios held on as a developer, and were soon planning to bounce back with one of their first unique titles: Bonk: Brink of Extinction, what was to be the first full game in the Bonk series in more than fifteen years, wherein Bonk was to attempt to save his world from the threat of an incoming meteor. Alas, it was not to be, as development was brought to a screeching halt following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The game was cancelled on March 11th of that year, and Pi Studios was just as dead as Bonk before the month was over - several of its employees went on to form Category 6 Studios, a developer that announced one game and then dropped off the map. The cancellation of Brink of Extinction may have also proven to be the last straw for publisher Hudson Soft, who had been slowly losing relevance as a developer over the course of the 2000's following a series of flops like Bomberman Act:Zero and Lost In Shadow, as Konami purchased them and shut them down less than a year after the fact.
- The RDI Halcyon, noted for being the poorest selling console ever at only 13 units, bankrupted RDI Video Systems.
- Losses from the critically panned All Points Bulletin killed Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds. They sank a lot of money in the long development phase but in the end, they had to release the game as-is in hopes of recouping their losses. Unfortunately, it was still in a messy state and rather accelerated their downfall — the servers were shut down less than ten weeks after the launch, a sad new record for an MMO.
- Although its original incarnation died a quick death, APB was successfully revived as a free-to-play title, with the rights being picked up by GamersFirst and the game rebranded as "APB Reloaded". To put RTW's downfall in perspective: the initial incarnation of the game cost $120 million to develop, but GamersFirst was able to secure the rights to the property for a mere $2 million, allowing them to easily make Reloaded profitable.
- Ritual Entertainment had its fate sealed by the underperformance of their attempt to make an episodic sequel to their 1998 game SiN - while the first episode, Emergence, sold well enough to recoup its own development costs, it didn't sell well enough to fund the development for the eight further episodes they had planned. One year later they would be absorbed into the casual games developer MumboJumbo, though some former devs would leave shortly after that merger to work at id Software or found Escalation Studios (now Bethesda Game Studios Dallas).
- Sigma Enterprises, a Japanese company that was part of the industry since 1978, had its video game business done in by 1992's Maka Maka, a Super Famicom JRPG that took so much time and money to make that Sigma rushed the game to stores to make its scheduled release date the moment they received an untested prototype. The resulting Obvious Beta became notorious as a kusogē in Japan, and the company published three more arcade games the following year before ceasing game production altogether.
- Silicon Knights was once renowned for its work on the Nintendo GameCube cult classics Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. However, once CEO Denis Dyack broke from Nintendo, his ego got the better of him with Too Human, and a disputed case of Executive Meddling* plagued X-Men: Destiny. These incidents, along with a comprehensive loss in a dispute with Epic Games (wherein Silicon Knights was caught plagiarizing Unreal Engine 3 code for use in its own projects), ruined the studio and Dyack's reputation, as evidenced by a unsuccessful 2013 bid to secure funding for a Spiritual Sequel to Eternal Darkness from crowdfunding services such as Kickstarter.
- Spark Unlimited's development history consisted of a string of mediocre games, with its lone bright spot being Lost Planet 3 (while the game sold poorly, it received praise for its story). The company's collaboration with Comcept and Koei Tecmo, Yaiba Ninja Gaiden Z, also flopped, and Spark disbanded a year later.
- Starbreeze Studios was a studio famous for their The Chronicles of Riddick video game adaptations, Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena as well as the first video game adaptation of The Darkness, which are regarded as some of the greatest licensed games of all time. However, the failure of the 2012 Syndicate reboot, the company got into financial troubles and most of the experienced workforce left to form MachineGames and began work on Wolfenstein: The New Order. Later in the same year, it was announced that Starbreeze had bought Overkill Software, the developers of PAYDAY The Heist, which was now its subsidiary. While this was technically true, in reality, Overkill's leadership had bought most of Strarbreeze's stocks and all but absorbed the company into Overkill. The remaining development team on Starbreeze would work on the much loved indie title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, whose developers would also leave the company soon after the game saw success. While it still technically exists, What currently remains of Starbreeze is little more than Overkill's publishing arm.
- Short-lived Macintosh software company Storm Impact had two hits right out of the gate with the RPG TaskMaker and the skiing game MacSki in the mid-1990s. While their next products (a space game called Asterbamm and a tech support utility called Technical Snapshot) bombed, the company soldiered on for a while with updates to their two flagship products. The major factor in their demise was undercapitalization; the company consisted mainly of two people, thus making it hard for them to keep up with development in the computer video game industry. Making matters worse were a 1997 lawsuit against a software-of-the-month company that distributed their games illegally (they won the lawsuit, but it ate up so much of their resources), a decline in the Mac market at the time, and issues with a publisher who kept losing orders. In 1998, they barely managed to rush out The Tomb of the TaskMaker before the company went under entirely.
- Tale of Tales, developer of art games like The Path, tried to attract a wider audience with the 2015 game Sunset. Sadly, this backfired. Despite general critical acclaim (compare Metacritic's 70 metascore versus the 2.7 user score on the same site), it sold poorly enough that they went out of business not long after release. Not helping matters was the Creator Breakdown that ensued on Twitter, including a Cluster F-Bomb lashing out against games, gamers, and the industry as a whole.
- Despite winning critical acclaim and millions of sales, L.A. Noire killed developer Team Bondi. The excruciatingly long development (publisher Rockstar Games eventually had to bring in their other studios to help finish it), coupled with employees furious about borderline-sweatshop working conditions and not being named in the credits, soured their relationship with Rockstar and killed any chance of them finding another publisher. Shortly there after, the studio itself imploded due to various reactions to former Bondi CEO Brendan McNamara's behavior over the development cycle. He was the studio head/co-founder and, if even some of the reports are to be believed, the epitome of Executive Meddling and Small Name, Big Ego.
- It wasn't just one game that ended up bringing down Telltale Games, as every one of their games with the exception of The Walking Dead: Season One, their Breakout Hit, and Minecraft: Story Mode lost them money. Because most of their output was Licensed Games, Telltale made very small profit margins on them, requiring them to sell lots of copies in order to turn a profit. Their method of counteracting this—producing lots and lots of games as quickly as possible—also backfired on them as it burnt out their staff and prevented Telltale from innovating, improving or experimenting with their games, leading to diminishing returns in both sales and reception due to It's the Same, Now It Sucks!. It was company policy for their games to be Strictly Formula; Telltale's head at the time believed, essentially, that all they had to do was use their money from The Walking Dead to make a dozen or so more games just like it to make back a dozen times their money. In a weird way, their breakout hit ended up being their killer, by moving them away from their profitable budget games like Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Tales of Monkey Island, or Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People and towards using their new funds to endlessly recapture lightning in a bottle to increasingly outdated and unimpressive results.
- Terminal Reality, a developer best known for Nocturne, the first two BloodRayne games, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game, closed its doors in December 2013 with its last game being the critically panned The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.
- Titus Software somehow survived the 1990s despite publishing a long string of mediocre to terrible games (including the now-infamous Superman 64), but their 2003 Multi-Platform RoboCop Licensed Game was a critical and commercial disaster that helped push Titus into bankruptcy a year and a half later. Its subsidiary Interplay Entertainment (purchased in 2001) survived the collapse, but just barely (Interplay had to sell the Fallout franchise to Bethesda to ease losses).
- Tranji Studios only had one title to its name — the Tenchu-like Red Ninja End Of Honor, which flopped both critically and commercially and killed any chance for Tranji to make any more games.
- The fate of Trilobyte Software is particularly notable. The company struck gold with its first game, 1993's The 7th Guest for the PC, one of the first games to take advantage of the then-fledgling CD-ROM format. Along with Myst (released about six months later), The 7th Guest was the big Killer App that sold CD-ROM units, showing that they could be used for more than just edutainment software and interactive cookbooks. Like Myst, it was also among the first games to use realistic pre-rendered graphics and successfully integrate full-motion video into its basic gameplay. Not to mention that it was also one of the first video games to be marketed at a more adult audience, with its (relatively) mature storyline and challenging puzzle design. The 7th Guest went on to sell more than 2 million copiesnote , and Trilobyte became one of the most highly recognized developers in all of computer gaming.
Sadly, The 7th Guest would turn out to be their only real hit. The game's highly anticipated follow-up, The 11th Hour, was constantly delayed before finally being released in late 1995. It turned out to be anything but worth the wait. While the graphics were superb for their timenote , many complained about the needlessly obtuse puzzles, use of MIDI music rather than a CD quality soundtrack (which was gradually becoming the norm by this time), and releasing on DOS when Windows 95 was becoming the gold standard for PC games. It certainly didn't help that, by this time, "adult-oriented" games were becoming more widespread and other developers were catching on to how to properly use the CD-ROM format for gaming. So neither The 11th Hour nor its predecessor seemed so special any more. While the game sold reasonably well, it didn't sell nearly as well as the original and (more importantly) failed to cover the massive costs of its production. After releasing only two more games, both of which flopped horribly (one literally sold only 27 copies in the United States), the company was forced to close its doors in early 1999 — by means of an eviction notice, no less! You can read more about the company in the following Gamespot editorial (which was taken off their site but thankfully transcribed by an independent blogger): The Rise And Fall Of Trilobyte.
- VectorCell, a development company created by Flashback designer Paul Cuisset, only lasted about a year before going bankrupt. Its only two known projects, AMY and an HD remake of Flashback, were both critical and commercial disasters.
- State of Emergency 2 killed both of its developers — VIS Entertainment went bankrupt in the middle of production, and DC Studios, the company that stepped in to complete the game in the wake of VIS' closure, was shut down as a direct result of the game's resulting flop at retail.
- Tomba! and its sequel Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return performed well enough to develop a cult following, but they sold so poorly that their developer, Whoopee Camp, never made another game.
- Day One: Garry's Incident ultimately killed Wild Game Studios. Not only was the game negatively received by critics and players alike, it garnered controversy due to the developers abusing YouTube's copyright system to take down a negative review by TotalBiscuit, which brought to light other alleged misconduct by the developersnote . The resulting fallout led to abysmal sales, and Wild Games Studios hasn't made a game since.
- The final demise of XNauts, the successor company to the bankrupt Psikyo, can be blamed on the failure of Sengoku Cannon: Sengoku Ace Episode III, their last game not counting strip mahjong.
- David W. Bradley was a promising video game programmer and designer who breathed new life into the venerable Wizardry series in The '90s and his own company Heuristic Park produced an original Wizards & Warriors to lukewarm reviews. Then, however, they released Dungeon Lords, which launched in such a messy state that it essentially killed off Bradley and his studio's reputations. Except for a DL remaster, they have never released another game in the following decade, despite technically continuing to exist.
- The failure of Tabula Rasa ended the video game career of Richard Garriott, or, at the very least, robbed him of the "Lord British" mystique. On the other hand, the $28 million he received in his lawsuit from NC Soft (which screwed Tabula Rasa and Garriott over to a literally criminal degree), the profits he made from City of Heroes, and the fact that Tabula Rasa allowed him to take a flight to the International Space Station probably takes the sting out of it.
- Keiji Inafune was very popular among video game circles for directing numerous Mega Man titles (though he did credit Akira Kitamura as the real creator). While excitement was initially high when he announced a Spiritual Successor to the series in Mighty No. 9 and the Kickstarter campaign was a runaway success, numerous delays and bad decisions (including running a second Kickstarter for Red Ash, a successor to Mega Man Legends, while Mighty No. 9 was still in development) soured fans on the project afterward. The Internet Backdraft only got worse when the game was eventually released in 2016, with the game receiving mediocre reviews and widespread mockery for technical issues and bad level design, and publisher Deep Silver's infamous trailer showcasing all of these problems at once. In the aftermath, Inafune's company Comcept folded into Level-5 almost two years later, and the game he hoped to kickstart a new franchise died with only a (decent) crossover/spinoff in Mighty Gunvolt Burst to acknowledge Beck's continued existence.
- The crowdfunding campaign for the Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon (an ambitious attempt at creating a "retro", cartridge-enabled game console in the modern video game market) ended up being one for Mike Kennedy, an obscure but then somewhat respected entrepreneur in the retro game community and the editor of RETRO Magazine. Although the first attempt at crowdfunding under the Retro VGS name had its detractors, public opinion didn't turn against Kennedy himself until the system's showing at the 2016 American International Toy Fair, when users of the Atari Age forum made a very convincing case that Kennedy didn't have a working prototype of the Coleco Chameleon as he claimed, and that he had simply put the internals of a SNES Jr. inside an Atari Jaguar case. Attempts at damage control were catastrophic and further doomed the project: the owners of the Coleco trademark cut their ties to the console when Kennedy failed to show them a working prototype, two staff members of RETRO Magazine resigned (both essentially saying that, while Kennedy did not wrong them personally, his name became too toxic to associate with), and Kennedy's reputation was ruined.
- American McGee (who started out as a level designer for Doom and Quake and had his first big post-id hit with American McGee's Alice), took a big hit from the failure that was Bad Day LA. While his career has yet to return to the highs of Doom, Quake and Alice (his plans for an adaptation of the Land of Oz never really took off), he was able to release a sequel to his first Alice game, and formed his own social games company (Spicy Horse Games), which operated from 2011 to 2016.
- Daikatana didn't make anyone John Romero's bitch as he wanted to; it made Romero its own bitch and took his fame and career down with it.
- Some would say it also made Ion Storm its bitch, but the RTS Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 is perhaps the bigger culprit. Not only was it a huge flop on its own, but the internal squabbling its development caused at Ion Storm was partially responsible for turning Daikatana into what it is, mostly thanks to how Ion Storm wanted to get Dominion out of the door as soon as possible so they could have some more cash for Daikatana.
- That said, after Daikatana, Romero floundered for awhile before coming back with a social games company that has seen moderate success and a much older, wiser, and more mature Romero.
- Hellgate: London ended the career of Bill Roper as a front line creator/big name. He's still doing quite well as an executive.
- This happened twice with creators connected to Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy creator, director and producer Hironobu Sakaguchi was kicked out of his producer role around the time that Final Fantasy X came out due to his catastrophic attempt to become a film producer. Some have it that this event caused the Final Fantasy series' Dork Age.
- The failure of the original incarnation of Final Fantasy XIV, as well as health problems, ended Hiromichi Tanaka's career at Square Enix, and very nearly destroyed the Final Fantasy brand as a whole, thanks to many questionable design decisions and lack of communication from Tanaka's team regarding game updates and player feedback. Once Tanaka was removed, Square Enix handed the game over to Naoki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida, who did an impressive job retooling it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
- Yoshio Sakamoto was the sole man behind most of the controversial decisions and design choices for Metroid: Other M. Between the direction of the story, Samus and Adam's characterizations, the controls, and his constant Executive Veto against his team, the game that was released to the world bombed massively. The final product caused many Metroid fans to turn against Sakamoto while critics either trashed the game or saw it as So Okay, It's Average. As a result, Sakamoto stepped away from the Metroid franchise for a great period of time while he made other games. Thankfully, he eventually returned to help produce Metroid: Samus Returns and because he took the criticisms to heart, the game did extremely well with critics and fans alike with some of them even willing to forgive him for his involvement with Other M.
- It is frequently rumoured that the Virtual Boy's failure caused Gunpei Yokoi's departure from Nintendo, although business partner Yoshihiro Taki denies this, stating that Yokoi had planned to retire long before the Virtual Boy's release, and the console was supposed to be a parting gift of sorts. If he had quit after the failure of the Virtual Boy, it would have been seen as an admission of defeat, which led to him creating the Game Boy Pocket as well before leaving for Bandai, with the WonderSwan being the last system he ever created. A 2003 GameSpy article listing the 25 dumbest moments in gaming history takes this a bit more literally — when they mention the Virtual Boy at the number 10 spot, at least one of the writers is of the impression that had it not flopped, Yokoi would likely would have still been alive at the time the article was posted (rather than having passed away in a fatal 1997 car accident).