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  • Atari 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 before his 2017 death), 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. Even classic gaming enthusiasts give Atari short shrift today, and the Crash is largely the reason.
  • 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 Nordic acquired Alone in the Dark, while Humongous Entertainment was sold to Tommo.


    Electronic Arts 
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda for Bioware Montreal. The Troubled Production began with the development team being so excited by the prospect of utilizing vast amounts of procedural generation in the design that they skipped several steps in the typical development process - steps that would have revealed the concept as being untenable. When they finally realized their mistake, vast amounts of work had to be scrapped. It promptly got much worse by EA requiring the use of their in-house Frostbite engine despite it not being designed for RPG games. The Montreal studio was inexperienced in creating major titles and several of the major developer roles were filled by people with a questionable amount of ability and experience for such a major project. The game was forced out the door in just 13 months. Upon release, these issues reared their head with glitches that broke the game, Off-Model faces and bugged animations, questionable voice acting, all of which were mocked in numerous viral videos or social media posts. The game was abandoned six months after release killing the short & medium term plans EA had for the Mass Effect franchise after the original trilogy. Bioware Montreal was shut down in July 2017.
  • The EA Los Angeles office was mostly known for console games in the World War II Medal of Honor series in the 2000s, and the post-Renegade handling of the Command & Conquer series. In 2010 they were rebranded as Danger Close Studios and assigned with developing new games for the Medal of Honor revival series set in The War on Terror modern era. It was shut down in 2012 after the flop of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the second game in the revival setting.
  • 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.
  • Maxis Emeryville, best known for the SimCity and The Sims series, met their end two years after the release of SimCity (2013). The game, meant to be a long-awaited revitalization of the series after a ten-year Sequel Gap, fell under controversy for its mandatory always-online connectivity that caused an unprecedented Demand Overload at launch resulting in an unplayable game. Even after all was said and done, most critics found the game subpar at best and a huge disappointment for longtime series fans. While the game certainly wasn't an outright flop, it failed to live up to expectations and the heavy amount of controversy it caused did not sit well with EA, leading them to shut the Emeryville studio's doors and effectively burying the original Maxis name as people once knew it.
  • Mythic Entertainment, the studio behind the popular MMORPGs Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online closed a few months after the release of Dungeon Keeper Mobile, a game for mobile devices which quickly became notorious for its legendarily aggressive microtransaction model, and the insultingly cavalier approach to the source material's spirit and game mechanics in pursuit of monetization.
  • Ultima IX and 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, leading to X being cancelled and Origin's dissolution in June of 2004. The final insult came much later on when EA finally launched it's online distribution platform, it named it Origin.
  • Victory Games was set up by EA in 2010 to handle production of the Command & Conquer reboot. A year after its formation, the studio rebranded itself as BioWare Victory, but changed it back a year later. Intense negative reaction from the fanbase started when it was revealed that the game would use a free-to-play model, with no 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 the 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.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade was a first person shooter in a franchise known for Real Time Strategy. The disinterest from the gaming community at large and the Command And Conquer fanbase meant it didn't reach EA's expectations. This resulted in the termination of Westwood Studios in Nevada and the subsidiary Westwood Pacific in California. Staff were absorbed if possible into the EA Los Angeles studio. The final game Westwood published was the MMORPG Earth & Beyond, which wasn't successful enough to stop Westwood from being killed in January 2003. Earth & Beyond shut down in 2004.


  • 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. THQ then proceeded to misread the market entirely, creating "HD" versions for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 a year later. These versions, due to being released for consoles that have a far smaller children/family audience, were poorly received and saw abysmal sales caused their net income to plummet. Further hitting the company hard was the decline both in the Licensed Game market, as the traditional licensed children's games for consoles that shaped a major pillar of their business would be supplanted by cheaper mobile offerings. The decline continued with the Ultimate Fighting Championship video game rights being sold to Electronic Arts, and the final deathblow was the release of 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 
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a modest hit for 38 Studios, 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 laid off their entire staff a few months after the game's release, effectively dissolving the company and killing a planned Amalur-based MMORPG (codenamed Copernicus) in its cradle.
  • Not wanting to be outdone by Def Jam Icon, Def Jam Rapstar sold poorly, was the subject of several lawsuits, killed 4mm Games, harmed Autumn Games, and hindered the development of Skullgirls, a game otherwise divorced from anything relevant to Def Jam.
  • 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 port for the PlayStation 2, poor design decisions, and an infamously boneheaded "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.
  • AlphaDream Corporation was little-known until it created its acclaimed Mario & Luigi series, an RPG spin-off to the legendary Super Mario Bros. franchise. While none of the games were considered outright bad, they had suffered from progressively higher production costs and lower sales than your typical Mario title. The problems had begun with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam due to its sluggish start selling copies in Japan, and only became progressively worse with the 3DS remaster of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. This had finally proven fatal for the company come 2019. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was by far the best-selling Mario RPG in history (even managing to outsell the beloved Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door), but its 3DS remaster, Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey, tragically became the exact opposite, with only around 35,000 copies sold over its entire lifetime and thereby becoming one of the worst-selling games in the entire Mario franchise. As a result of the game's miserable commercial performance, AlphaDream sunk into the abyss of bankruptcy at the start of October 2019, effectively leaving the Mario & Luigi series in limbo in the process given Nintendo's lack of interest in reviving the series.
  • While producing a glut of bad licensed games in the early 2000s no doubt contributed to the demise of Argonaut Games (yes, the same who made Star Fox for the SNES), the finishing blow came with the notoriously poor Catwoman (2004). It ultimately proved the final product developed under the Argonaut name, with the company going bankrupt a few months after it was released.
  • 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 on 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.
  • 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.
  • Dark Energy Digital formed out of the shadow of Blade Interactive (known pretty much only for their Snooker games) in 2007 after the creation of their Hydroengine. A game engine that boasted the most realistic water effects to date. To showcase their new engine they released the critically panned Hydrophobia. Originally planned to be an episodic title the developers scrambled to fix gameplay issues and updated the first episode with Hydrophobia Pure. When this still didn't get the sales needed the studio scraped the episodic nature of the game and instead completely remade the game again as Hydrophobia Prophecy but again the game didn't gain traction. The studio went back to making sports games with WSC Real 11: World Snooker Championship but by then the damage had been done and the studio couldn't support itself.
  • 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 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.
  • 007 Legends was the last in a string of failures for Eurocom, who closed just two months after releasing the game. With most of their library being licensed games, the only game they made still available is Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy.
  • 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.
  • Haze was a high-profile PlayStation 3 flop which bankrupted the original incarnation of its developer, Free Radical Design. 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. Deep Silver eventually founded a new incarnation of Free Radical in 2021.
  • 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.
  • The critical and commercial failure that was the The Crow: City of Angels video game adaptation was what killed Gray Matter Inc. The Canadian video game developer folded the same year, after funding issues were a problem, canceling a game that was in development.
  • 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 led 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.
  • The Quiet Man became the undoing of Human Head Studios. Madison, Wisconsin-based Human Head Studios built its reputation with games like Rune and Prey (2006), but the 2010s proved to be difficult for the studio due to their relationship with Bethesda, who allegedly wished to force the studio into a position where they'd be forced to be bought out. In response, Human Head stalled for time over their Prey 2 contract, in hopes that their co-collaborations on other developers' games like Brink and Defiance would make up for any loses. They didn't. After getting out from under Bethesda, the studio tried to shake things up by collaborating with Kensei Fujinaga from Square Enix to create an ambitious beat-em-up/FMV combination that would not be reliant on sound. Unfortunately for Human Head Studios, what resulted was an Obvious Beta that ended up as one of the worst-reviewed games of 2018. The studio attempted to go back to basics with a sequel to Rune, but its Troubled Production mixed with The Quiet Man's critical and financial failure compared to how little they've released in the 2010s (The Quiet Man was the studio's first game they'd developed mostly by themselves since Prey, over twelve years prior) led to the studio's closure. However, no one lost their jobs: Bethesda created a new studio in Madison and gave everyone at Human Head a position there.
  • 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, 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 Software, 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.
  • Ion Storm:
    • Daikatana didn't make anyone John Romero's bitch as he wanted to; it made Romero its own bitch and took his mainstream career momentum down with it. The infamous advertising campaign for the game made it the subject of ridicule even before it came out, and the buggy, uninspired mess that was released to the public finished the job of destroying any credibility he retained.
    • The Dallas office suffered from the one-two punch of the failure of Dominion: Storm over Gift 3, which was rushed out as quickly as possible to gain more cash for/stop taking resources away from Daikatana, which killed any goodwill or respect the team once had. They were able to put out a third game, Anachronox, but its founders would leave and the office would be closed within days of its release.
    • The other office in Austin folded under much less dramatic circumstances: the company's six-game contract with Eidos just happened to be complete after the release of Thief: Deadly Shadows, so Warren Spector and several other senior staff members resigned once it was complete.
  • Before giving up on the video game publishing business entirely in mid-2016 outside of mobile games, Disney closed down Junction Point Studio, developer of Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, 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.
  • Kabam Beijing was closed after Legacy of Zeus performed poorly.
  • While somewhat respected for their story-driven games and the success of The Wheel of Time, Legend Entertainment's demise came with their involvement in Epic Games's Unreal series. The Expansion Pack Unreal Mission Pack: Return to Na Pali had annoying intermission segments which broke the action the original game was known for, as well as elements of A Space Marine Is You. The fatal blow came, however, with Unreal II: The Awakening, a generic shooter with the Unreal name thrown in and the Skaarj being put as enemies as their only links to the series.
  • 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 and his milestone 200th episode being a marathon of all of their games.
  • 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.
  • 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 survived and went on to develop several more games.
  • The Neverhood Inc., creators of the self-titled The Neverhood and Skullmonkeys, closed up shop following the critical and commercial failure of BoomBots.
  • nStigate Games (formerly Nihilistic Software) saw its future in console and handheld game development come to an end after the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified. While the company changed its name and announced its intent to move to the mobile gaming sector just before Declassified was released, the scathing reviews the game received ensured the move would never come to pass, as the company shut down before it could release anything under the nStigate moniker.
  • Over Fence, the developers of Flip Wars, filed for bankruptcy after the game flopped.
  • The poor sales and critical reception of Conflict: Denied Ops caused the closure of series creator Pivotal Games after owner Eidos failed to find a buyer for the studio.
  • 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 (the critically panned 25 to Life - which was co-developed by Ritual - may have done additional damage). 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).
  • Rooster Teeth Games had itself done in by the first-person shooter Vicious Cycle. Rooster Teeth co-founder Geoff Ramsay revealed that the game was way too niche, especially in its corner of the industry and that, with their other failures, they've decided to shutter that portion of the company and leave the entire Vicious Cycle game as a completely free-to-play game.
  • Saru Brunei, developers of Cubivore (originally developed for the Nintendo 64DD but moved to the GameCube), went out of business shortly after the game's release as it bombed worldwide. It also led to the game's two lead designers exiting the video game industry.
  • 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 Meddlingnote  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.
  • Single Trac, the creators of Warhawk, Jet Moto, and Twisted Metal, were unable to recapture the success and acclaim those games received after GT Interactive purchased them in 1997 and closed their doors in 2000 after developing the critical and commercial bomb Animorphs: Shattered Reality.
  • 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 thereafter, 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; instead using their new funds in endless attempts to recapture lightning in a bottle, with increasingly outdated and unimpressive results. Following the closure in 2018, the name and some of its assets were bought up by LCG Entertainment, forming a new Telltale company that has only the license to publish and sell games on Warner Bros. properties as well as its own few original IPs. As for new games, the revived company has opted to develop only two so far, while collaborating with other studios, use an industry standard engine instead of its own, and choose to complete all the title's episodes before release.
  • The 2003 RoboCop video game adaptation was what turned out to be the killer for Titus Software. It was panned for poor controls, graphics, sound processing and gameplay. They did develop one more game, a Top Gun game for the Game Boy Advance, but it was too little, too late, as they folded in 2005.
  • 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.
  • 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 the developers 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.
  • Vatra Games, a fledgling developer from the Czech Republic under the banner of Kuju Entertainment, entered a contract with Konami shortly after being founded. After putting out an obscure sequel to Rush'n Attack, the inexperienced company was handed the task of creating Silent Hill: Downpour, in an effort to get the project done cheaply. Downpour served only to continue the franchise's downward spiral, and Konami did not renew their contract. Vatra Games later declared bankruptcy in September 2012, after being unable to find other work.
  • 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!note  quickly developed into a cult classic for the original Playstation and put developer WhooPeeCamp on the map. It was popular enough to warrant a much-publicized sequel, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return, which crashed so hard into the Polygon Ceiling that it knocked WhooPeeCamp right out of business just as quickly as it came.
  • 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.

    Individual Creators 
  • Hideo Baba's career as the Tales Series producer was abruptly halted by Tales of Zestiria. The game bombed hard in Japan due to its short length, lack of polish and an infamous controversy involving the game's marketed heroine Alishanote . Rumors circulated online that Baba had forced Zestiria's writers to make massive rewrites to the story in order to include Rose's voice actress so he could flirt with her, which got him accusations of sexual harassment. Initially Namco Bandai reshuffled Baba into a Creative Director role, but he left the company soon after and joined Square Enix before leaving that company in 2020 with no more games under his belt.
  • 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 the reputations of Bradley and his studio. While Heuristic Park still operates more than a decade after the release of Dungeon Lords, save for a 2012 remaster of the game, they have never released anything else.
  • 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 game released in 2016 to mediocre reviews and widespread mockery for technical issues and bad level design, and publisher Deep Silver's infamous "Masterclass" 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 with 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 L.A.. 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.
  • The critical and commercial failure of Balan Wonderworld dealt a fatal blow to the career of Yuji Naka. Not only did he leave Square Enix shortly after the game was released, but seriously considered retiring from game development altogether. He’s since released a “hyper-casual” mobile game, SHOT 2048, but Balan Wonderworld certainly killed his mainstream career.
  • Thunder Force VI severely damaged the career of Sega employee Tetsu "Tez" Okano, despite his involvement in previous well-received titles such as Astro Boy: Omega Factor and Segagaga. While the game was seen as a decent but somewhat underwhelming revival by the import scene, in Japan, its reception was that of pure vitriol, with many Thunder Force fans blaming Okano personally for things like not caring about the integrity of the series lore or perceived self-indulgent unwelcome changes. The backlash was so fierce that he would leave Sega shortly after the game's release and step away from the game industry for nearly a full decade.
  • Hellgate: London ended the career of Bill Roper as a front line creator/big name. He's still doing quite well as an executive.
  • The failure of the original incarnation of Final Fantasy XIV, as well as health problems, abruptly 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.
  • It is frequently stated 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. The console was supposed to be a parting gift of sorts, and upon its failure, Yokoi stayed with Nintendo a little while longer to create the Game Boy Pocket. By which time he probably decided against retiring just yet, as he also went on to create the WonderSwan after leaving Nintendo. However, this doesn't stop the Virtual Boy is being seen as the catalyst for Yokoi's actual death: a 2003 GameSpy article listing the 25 dumbest moments in gaming history mentions the Virtual Boy at the number 10 spot, and at least one of the writers is of the impression that had it not flopped, Yokoi likely would have still been alive at the time the article was posted (rather than having passed away in a fatal 1997 car accident).
    "So, the Virtual Boy is not only a misbegotten mess of a game machine, it's a vicious and diabolical little thing that helped rob the world of the creator of Metroid and Kid Icarus. I mean, Jaguar sucked, but at least it didn't kill people."
  • Howard Scott Warshaw never developed another game after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial bombed on shelves on account of bean counters at Atari rushing development to deliver on time for the 1982 holiday season.