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  • The "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII", spearheaded by Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, is seen as one for the FFVII sub-franchise. Advent Children was met with highly mixed reception, and many fans were not happy with the Flanderization of various characters, particularly Cloud, who was bashed as the kind of "emo pretty-boy" stereotype that eventually became a frequent point of criticism for Final Fantasy, and Square Enix, as a whole. As the Compilation continued to build up, FFVII lost much of its prestige and recognition; most of the other entries were also met with similar criticisms and mixed reception — barring a few standouts like Crisis Core, which nonetheless weren't as prestigious and loved as the original game. FFVII's reputation only started to see a rise again with the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Cloud's addition to Super Smash Bros., both of which were driven by surprise and drew heavily from the original game while ignoring developments from Advent Children and the rest of the Compilation. note 
  • In Final Fantasy XI, the Chains of Promathia expansion is considered to be a Dork Age by many, many, many players. Reasons included grueling boss fights that required very specific party combinations and a fair amount of luck to win, storylines that were left hanging between updates, Notorious Monsters that were amazingly gimmicky with incredibly low drop rates for gear, and pop items for further Notorious Monsters. The era was also known for the infamous "Ranger Nerf" that, while somewhat justified in the fact that the Ranger job was severely overpowered compared to other jobs, went way too far and made it into one of the weakest jobs in the game (this nerf was partially countered years later after Samurai became the new overpowered pet-job of the dev team). Combined with the first unbeatable boss of the game, the Jailer of Love, which was then nerfed to make way for the new unbeatable boss Absolute Virtue, quite a lot of mid to end-game players left FFXI to play World of Warcraft. Not that Chains of Promethia was completely terrible; the mission storyline is among the longest and most interesting in the game (and better than some of the storylines of the main games), created systems and fights that are still popular years later like Limbus, ENMs, Bahamut, and Ouryu, and included many in-depth optional side quests such as Adventuring Fellows (your own personal NPC). Changes to the mission fights were made to help players, such as making the fights easier, removing the experience penalty if they fall during battles, rewarding players with experience if they help people with the battles, and easing the restrictions of special items that help to make the battles easier- but these were made after the next expansion, Treasures of Aht Urhgan, when most players will agree that the Dork Age ended with a vengeance with a completely new philosophy in game design. (That it shouldn't be terrible to do things in the game.) Many people look fondly at the Chains of Promethia expansion, mainly because time has passed and people don't quite remember the original controller-throwing difficulty of the unnerfed missions, or they had only played the missions after they had been nerfed. Also, not losing thousands upon thousands of XP to the then unnerfed Jailer of Love and the still-to-this-day unnerfed Absolute Virtue may well help to keep those glasses rose-colored.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • When the game launched in 2010, there were lots of bugs, terrible optimization that made the game run sluggishly for most PC users, and many game mechanics that were not looked upon favorably, such as having experience points being reduced in gains if you try to level up too much. Once the development team got replaced with new faces, the game was reworked from the ground up and relaunched 3 years later with favorable results; players could complete quests at their own leisure, items were mostly easy to obtain, and the game was very stable and optimized. However, a second dork age came along shortly after the rerelease; certain materials were hard to find or buy due to people and bots alike farming the materials and then selling the materials back on the market for absurdly high prices. End game gear that wasn't part of a loot drop were regulated to many weeks (or even months) of grinding for special tomes that were needed to obtain said gear. A few patches did address the issues, but the next major patch introduced more problems with the Atma system where players had to get 12 specific items from 12 specific events that pop up at random times in order to power up their Infinity +1 Sword. The problem is that the events can take hours to appear and the items from the event have ridiculously low drop rates. The fanbase had exploded in anger over the Atma system and some have compared it to the same systems that were used in Final Fantasy XI.
    • Gordias, the first tier of the Alexander raid series, ended up being a dork age for FFXIV's raiding community. It was the first tier where Square Enix implemented the game’s current raid difficulty system: a Story Difficulty Setting for the playerbase at large, and a Savage version for hardcore raiders. The problem was that Savage mode ended up being leagues harder than Normal mode, with incredibly punishing mechanics (it was common with one mechanic for Manipulator to completely skip it by everyone dying beforehand and getting revived with a healer Limit Break) and tight DPS checks, in addition to each boss being gear-gated to having all the gear from the previous boss. It didn’t help that the first boss had a miniboss before it with the exact same DPS and healing check, which meant that casual to mid-core raid groups weren’t able to see any bosses at all. In the next patch, a new Extreme Trial was released to give players an alternate method of getting the gear necessary to clear the tier; however, said trial (Thordan’s Reign) ended up being almost as soul-crushingly difficult as Gordias itself. In the end, the raiding community’s population took a sharp nosedive throughout the tier, and wouldn’t recover its pre-Gordias numbers until the Shadowbringers expansion.

While people tend to blame Act:Zero for killing the series, fans would say that the 2000s as a whole was not a good time for Bomberman. In fact, it actually led to the death of the franchise until 2017. This was mainly due to ridiculous amounts of Nostalgia Filter-induced Capcom Sequel Stagnation, poorly thought-out gimmicks, and some truly boneheaded cases of Executive Meddling. It didn't help that Hudson was going through their own Dork Age during that time.

Note that some of these entries have been Vindicated by History. This does not, however, change the fact that the games were heavily contested at the time of their release.

  • It all started in 2000 with the Bomberman Land series, as well as the introduction of the hated developer Racjin. Bomberman Land was a Mini Game Game with very little Bomberman mechanics that was seen as So Okay, It's Average in its native Japan, but was considered generic and terrible in the West (though the authentic recreations of theme parks and the Survival Bomberman mode were well received on both sides of the pacific). It probably didn't help that the game wasn't released outside Japan... and did well enough to get sequels that got even worse reception.
  • The Charaboms. While they were introduced in Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! and Bomberman Maxnote , nobody really minded until Hudson Soft started to force them into the single-player campaigns in an attempt to copy the success of Pokémon. This didn't go over very well with fans, because A) they'd already tried making a Pokemon clone with Robopon, B) the battle system wasn't anywhere near as good as Pokémon's, and C) the Level Grinding clashed heavily with the Bomberman gameplay style. The fan backlash resulted in the Charaboms being Put on a Bus after 2002, though they've since been Vindicated by History.
  • Then came Bomberman Tournament, an early Game Boy Advance game and the sequel to Bomberman Quest. While its Battle Game was praised, the story mode was heavily panned for essentially being a watered down version of Quest with none of its personality or good writing. The removal of Quest's Boss Game gameplay and the addition of the controversial Charabom mechanic (which now requires you to do extensive Level Grinding to even stand a chance against the CPU) didn't help matters. Tournament would eventually be Vindicated by History, however.
  • Bomberman Online was a late release for the Sega Dreamcast, coming out exclusively in the U.S. in October 2001. It gutted the traditional single-player gameplay for a Battle Game-centric campaign (much like Wario Blast/Bomberman GB before it) which was criticized for its Fake Difficulty (especially the bosses). While the online mode was well-received, it didn't last too long due to its very late release date.
  • Bomberman Kart was a Land spin-off and the first Bomberman game on the PlayStation 2. Unfortunately, it was also a generic kart racer, which didn't sit well with fans or critics, nor did it help the perception of Land in the West. To top things off, it was only released in Japan and Europe.
  • In 2002, Bomberman Generation and Max 2 hit store shelves...only to be hit with the Tough Act to Follow trope hard. The games were meant to be sequels to Bomberman 64 and Max respectively, but didn't really get fans' attention. The inclusion of the Charaboms really didn't help, either—in the former game, on top of having Tournament's Level Grinding, Generation locks several abilities behind the Charaboms, including several mechanics introduced in 64 such as the ability to control the strength of your Bomb Throw and the fan-favorite Bomb Jump—as it was another sign of Generation moving away from 64's Puzzle Platformer roots. And in the latter game, some of the 'Boms are absolute Game Breakers. While Generation has been heavily Vindicated by History, Max 2 is still a Contested Sequel.
  • At the end of that year, the critically contested Bomberman Jetters anime and marketing campaign, which lasted about a year, was launched. Fans were split down the middle—some liked Jetters and wanted to see it continue, while others hated it and thought the series had officially jumped the shark. If there was one thing that fans unanimously agreed on, however, it's that no one expected the inevitable Recursive Adaptation tie-in video game to be such a catastrophic example of The Problem with Licensed Games. It had it all: looong loading times, Charabomsnote , dreadfully long and padded levels, and the obligatory Fake Difficulty. Worse yet, despite being a sequel to Generation, it was released in Japan six months after Gen so it could tie into the anime. Japanese fans weren't happy, and when the game finally made it stateside in 2004, American critics butchered it and fans were through the roof in anger. It singlehandedly killed the "64-esque" gameplay style, marked the end of the road for the Charaboms (so much so that future games don't even acknowledge them) and tainted the reputation of Jetters in the west for years.
    • There was also a GBA prequel/tie-in to the anime. Unlike the console game, it was very well received...which naturally meant that it never left Japan.
  • Bomberman Hardballnote  was yet another Land spin-off, this time a generic compilation of sports games, once again only released in Japan and Europe. At this point, some people wondered if Racjin (the developers of Land) were actively trying to sabotage the franchise.
  • Bomberman on the Nintendo DS was released in 2005 and was the start of the series Dork Age heading into overdrive, as this was where the true Capcom Sequel Stagnation began. Racjin finally got to make a main series title! And it was essentially a clone of the Super Bomberman games, but with Land's art style... with all of the innovation of those titles surgically removed (save for the surprisingly fun double screen battle mode). This worsened Racjin's reputation among western fans, to the point that some feared that the franchise wouldn't last much longer.
  • Then there's the big one: Bomberman Act:Zero. Seeing how poorly Bomberman had done in the sixth generation, Hudson attempted to restore goodwill with fans and critics by rebooting the series. Unfortunately, some executive at Konami (the game's publisher. Keep them in mind) who likely didn't know much about the series forced the developers to make it much Darker and Edgier in a baffling attempt to appeal to Americansnote . When it was released, fans and critics were downright horrified at how bad the game was. Act:Zero used the same Battle Game-centric gameplay style as Online, only this time Bomberman had to survive 99 rounds with no lives or saves! Died on Round 96? Back to Round 1 for you! It also featured such gems as a "First-Person Bomber" mode that was actually third-person, a needlessly dark story about how Bombers were actually Super Soldiers made for some war with a lame A Winner Is You ending to boot, a horrible redesign that became a textbook example of bad redesigns, no local play option for the battle mode, and Jiggle Physics for the female Bombers in the normally chaste Bomberman series. Needless to say, Act:Zero quickly became a laughingstock in the industry. It was so bad that Hudson had to go into full damage control mode by apologizing for the game and abandoning the reboot... but not before insulting fans by making a Totally Radical website that invoked the Animation Age Ghetto on the older Bomberman games—even going as far as telling fans who didn't like the game to play with the PSP game (seemingly mocking the iconic Bomberman character design in the process) or Hello Kitty toys. Fans took the hint and retaliated by leaving the series en masse, resulting in Act:Zero as well as every Bomberman game released afterward bombing in sales. Hudson later teamed up with Backbone Entertainment to create Bomberman Live/Ultra, which was intended to be a saving throw, but it was too late for the series.
  • Around the time of Act:Zero's release, two games were made for the PlayStation Portable. The first of these was Bakufuu Sentai Bomberman, a crossover with Super Sentai. Western fans were baffled by the concept and fans on both sides of the Pacific noted the lack of creativity in the gameplay. It also never left Japan.
  • The second of the two titles was Bomberman. It suffered from the exact same problem as Bakufuu and DS—namely the lack of innovation. In fact, it was somehow an even worse rehash than DS. Fans (what little there were after the whole Act:Zero fiasco) felt that the series was starting to stagnate.
  • Then there were four Land games—one for the PSP, another for the Wii and two for the DS. All of them were localized (unlike the previous titles) and all of them were very poorly received (though the DS entries were Vindicated by History due to their mini-games being more "Bomberman-esque" than past installments). The PSP Land is widely considered to be one of the worst Bomberman games by fans as it not only has the most banal plot and dialogue in the series history (including the park director rewarding you for 100% Completion by flat out telling you he doesn't plan on giving you anything for it despite the effort it took to get 100% as well as heavy Flanderization for the main characters), it also recycles nearly all of its mini-gamesnote , costumes, and music from Land 3. Fans were convinced that Racjin would kill the franchise though Hudson at least ended the Land series after these titles.
  • Bomberman Live (Ultra on the PlayStation 3) was supposed to be an apology for Act:Zero, being developed with American fans in mind. While critics loved it, fans were split—some loved it for its Battle Mode-centric gameplay while others hated it for that exact reason, feeling that it was falling into the same trap as Online and Act:Zero before it. Both sides agreed that the game wasn't what the series needed to get back on track. It later got a sequel in 2010...that ended up being the last Bomberman game for a few years.
  • In 2007, Hudson teamed up with Shockwave game developer 55shock to develop yet another online Bomberman game. The end result was Bomberman Online Japan which officially launched on September 10, 2008 (after two weeks of private beta testing). Despite being positively received and having a somewhat small but loyal playerbase, the game went on hiatus on January 31, 2009... which became permament on June 3, 2009. This was primarily due to the Japanese Shockwave webpage closing in January 2009, taking down 55shock with it. Making matters worse is the fact that Hudson had big plans for the game, including a western release and even a 2010 Bomberman World Cup! Unfortunately, the game's closure after four months squandered those plans.
  • After Hudson went into the depths of bankruptcy and sold their IPs to Konami, the franchise laid dormant for a few years...until the release of Super Bomberman R in 2017. While the game was initially criticized by fans at launch for being derivative of Hudson's Super Bomberman games and for being an Obvious Beta upon release, it has since been praised for being a return to form for the series.

  • 2015 was one of the worst times to be an Animal Crossing fan, with the releases of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. The former was perceived as So Okay, It's Average for its lack of any real challenge, while the latter was critically panned for its board-based gameplay and reliance on the amiibo, and for not being a mainline Animal Crossing game for the Wii U. This Dork Age would eventually be alleviated a bit with the Welcome amiibo update for Animal Crossing: New Leaf in 2016, but the franchise would not get another main game for another five years with Animal Crossing: New Horizons; which would go on to be the best-selling entry in the series by several country miles and the second best-selling Switch game (only behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's juggernaut sales), so it's safe to say the dark days of the series are long behind it.
  • Nintendo fans remember Hotel Mario and the Zelda CD-i games with shame, due to this and general unplayablity. They haven't been forgotten by YouTube, by way of So Bad, It's Good-ness and by extension, YouTube Poop.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The GameCube/GBA era was one at the time of its release. The flagship game of this era, Super Mario Sunshine, was controversial due to its unconventional gameplay, and was criticized for its voice acting. The rest of the era was dominated with remakes and spin-off entries (Mario Party, Mario Kart and sports titles) with the only other big headers being Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. In hindsight, these games have been Vindicated by History or become Cult Classics. Sunshine, in particular, has been lauded as a worthy successor to the genre-defining Super Mario 64.
    • The Paper Mario subseries is often agreed to be in one as of 2016. It started with Paper Mario: Sticker Star, which was a heavily controversial game for removing the story, exploration and RPG elements that made previous installments so beloved (the former being suggested by Miyamoto no less). Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam was mostly held aloft by the gameplay and characterization approach of its other constituent series, while suffering from a few of the same problems as later Paper Mario games, and with Paper Mario: Color Splash more-or-less being a straight sequel to Sticker Star, many fans agree that the dork age isn't ending any time soon. There are a few fans who believe that the dork age began with Super Paper Mario, but in hindsight, it's seen as a far better game that mostly only suffers due to its different gameplay. There is also a section of fans who believe Color Splash ended the dork age (though the low sales it ultimately got may tell that it still didn't quite achieve it) by bring back the humour and characterisation from past titles and fixing most, though not all, of the problems Sticker Star is remembered for. Paper Mario: The Origami King managed to win back a number of fans, with its improved gameplay, interconnected overworld, greater variation in NPC designs, outstanding soundtrack, and more dramatic plotline all receiving praise, though whether or not it manages to live up to the first three games is still heavily debated.
    • Mario Party started out with three well-received games on the Nintendo 64, but became repetitive and formulaic by the time of the Nintendo GameCube sequels, and Mario Party Advance released during the same period was considered flat-out bad for its poor multiplayer experience. Mario Party 8, an early Wii title, got mediocre reviews and divisive fan reception, and Mario Party DS, the Nintendo DS follow-up that was released the same year, was considered So Okay, It's Average for largely similar reasons, particularly for feeling technologically dated. However, in an ironic twist, when the Mario Party series returned from hibernation, the mixed reception to the newer games invoked a sense of Vindicated by History for the Nintendo GameCube titles, as well as 8 and DS from fans who still wish for a return to the old formula.

      The series then went into hibernation for several years until NDcube made Mario Party 9 and tried to Win Back the Crowd by changing the game mechanics considerably, most notably having all players travel around the board in the same car. Again the Mario Party audience was divided, this time over whether it changed too much rather than changed too little. Mario Party 10 on the Wii U was based on this formula, and got a similar response.

      Island Tour on the 3DS was an attempt to tide over those who felt alienated by 9 with more traditional gameplay, and ended up being regarded as slightly below average at best. Star Rush for the 3DS tries to mix up the formula once more. While it is considered a decent attempt and a marked improvement over the other NDcube Mario Party titles, it was still seen as nothing more than just slightly above-average, and Mario Party: The Top 100 was met with mixed reactions. However when Super Mario Party was announced for Nintendo Switch and lacked the car and went back to the gameplay of the Hudson Soft-produced titles, fans were overjoyed. note  The announcement of Superstars 3 years later, which looks to completely return to the series' roots and the gameplay of the original installments, was met with universal praise and seems to be an indication that the series is officially out of its dork age.
  • After being revived to universal acclaim through the Metroid Prime Trilogy by Retro Studios, the Metroid franchise stumbled into one hard with Team Ninja's Metroid: Other M, which was widely maligned by the fanbase for its more streamlined and linear gameplay, unconventional control scheme, and notorious storyline that many felt did a disservice to the character of series protagonist Samus Aran, as well as committing a second major sin in hinting that the Prime Trilogy might be Canon Discontinuity. The game was met with middling reviews and by and large alienated the Western fanbase, becoming an outright sales flop on the Western market, and didn't do any better to the Japanese market it was meant to appeal to. This resulted in Nintendo letting the Metroid series lie low, with co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto (who was heavily involved in Other M, to the point of being directly responsible for the more controversial design decisions) temporarily abandoning the series.

    Things went From Bad to Worse when Nintendo followed up Other M six years later with Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a Lighter and Softer spin-off game that took significant steps away from the series (focusing on the Federation instead of Samus, who is otherwise hardly in the game outside of a few cameos; utilizing a more simplified and deformed artstyle, and being a team co-op shooter, as opposed to being a Metroidvania game, among other things). Fan reaction was predominantly negative, with the fanbase at large accusing Nintendo to being absolutely deaf to what they wanted from a new Metroid game, with some fans even going as far to call for the game's cancellation; the backlash culminated in Federation Force, on top of receiving weak reviews from critics, bombing even harder in sales than Other M did. Not helping matters was the DMCA takedown of the positively received Fan Remake, Another Metroid 2 Remake, which happened right around Federation Force's release.

    Thankfully, one year later, interest in the series was revived when not one, but two Metroid games that had Samus as the lead as well as two Metroid series amiibo were announced at E3 2017, with the first one — Samus Returns — being released later that September to widespread critical praise, and managing to restore a lot of faith in the franchise with fans. The second game was none other than Metroid Prime 4, though that game would end up not releasing for a while due to it hitting some development difficulties that resulted in Nintendo completely restarting its production in 2019. However, the reveal and release of Metroid Dreadnote  in 2021 to strong reception and sales.
  • After Rare was bought by Microsoft in 2002, the Donkey Kong franchise struggled in finding a new identity for itself (though some fans started seeing problems earlier with Donkey Kong 64, particularly its Collection Sidequest nature). Donkey Kong stopped getting new Donkey Kong Country games (relying in that regard on divisive ports for the Game Boy Advance) and went into quirky spin-off titles that, while having their share of fans, weren't particularly amazing. These included the Donkey Konga series of rhythm games with very few songs actually from previous games, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat which, while a fun platformer with a unique control scheme that works better than it sounds, had nothing to do with Donkey Kong Country and got a lot of hate for it, and Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, a racing game that was criticized for its poor controls and slow-paced feel compared to other games in the series. It came to an end in 2010, when Retro Studios took over and developed Donkey Kong Country Returns, which was released to wide acclaim and brought in a new legion of DK fans, resulting in an equally acclaimed sequel, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, being released in 2014.
  • For much of the 2010s, the Wario franchise was stuck in a bit of a rut. Following the critically acclaimed but commercially underwhelming Wario Land: Shake It! in 2008, Wario stopped getting new platforming games while his other series, WarioWare, experienced back-to-back flops following the release of WarioWare: Smooth Moves. WarioWare: Snapped! was intended to showcase the Nintendo DSi's camera, but only ended up proving its unsuitability as a form of input with its dearth of content and the game being very difficult to set up and control. WarioWare: D.I.Y. was critically acclaimed but sold poorly as its focus on user-generated content made it a tough sell. The Wii U title Game & Wario quickly became controversial for ditching the fast-paced microgames that had been the series trademark for long-form minigames and sold worse than D.I.Y. Fortunately, 2018's WarioWare Gold proved to be a modest success in the series' native Japan and was warmly received by critics and fans alike for returning to the series' roots as well as upgrading the presentation, with full voice acting and lots of features. The game was well-received enough to lead to a 2021 sequel titled WarioWare: Get It Together! which saw a similarly warm reception and was a much bigger commercial success, firmly confirming the series is out of its slump. The platformer branch of the franchise still lays dormant, however.
  • The Wii U was seen as a tragic case of Uncertain Audience sinking most of Nintendo's userbase. It was an attempt to appeal to the core gamer crowd with a more powerful console, but said demographic had already long moved on to their rivals, and Nintendo had never been able to shake off their Animation Age Ghetto stigma.note  Besides, the soon impending release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One would render any hardware advantage the Wii U offered moot. The Wii U's weaker hardware and unusual (by eigth generation standards, at least) architecture disincentivized multi-platform ports from third-party developers, ensuring that third-party support for the system was dead on arival save for some PS3 and Xbox 360 ports from very late in the seventh generation. For the casual crowd that jumped on board with the Wii, the name misled people into thinking it was just a Wii add-on, and thus sales plummeted. The one redeeming factor of the Wii U was that the separate Gamepad concept ended up being the foundation of the far more successful Nintendo Switch. In addition, Nintendo had such massive savings that they could take the loss from this miscalculated risk which would have otherwise doomed a console manufacturer. In the end, Nintendo were forced to cut the Wii U's lifespan short in the middle of the generation, lasting only a little over four years. Despite lingering doubt from gamers and the press, Nintendo was able to replace the Wii U with the Switch to much greater success, with many Wii U games being ported to Switch (and some to 3DS).
  • Kirby is generally considered to have undergone a slump in the mid-2000s, sometime between the departure of Masahiro Sakurai as the series director in 2003 and the stepping-in of Shinya Kumazaki as the current director in 2008. Kirby Air Ride, while Vindicated by History, was overlooked and dismissed when it first came out due to its relative simplicity and genre shift, and Sakurai was unhappy with it because of his disillusionment from the gaming industry as a whole. After that, a grab bag of Kirby games were sporadically released and garnered mixed reception: Kirby & the Amazing Mirror (a Metroidvania which is polarizing to this day), Kirby: Canvas Curse (a fun but insubstantial game, also largely an excuse to show off the then-new Nintendo DS's gimmicks), and Kirby: Squeak Squad (the most "traditional" of this era, mostly considered So Okay, It's Average). All of these were handled by B-teams or outside developers, as the main team was focusing on the GameCube Kirby title, which was deep in Development Hell and caused even more disappointment in these lower-key games. Kirby Super Star Ultra was considered a good sign that the era was ending, even if it didn't have much in the way of original content, and while Kirby's Epic Yarn was met with some initial disappointment due to not being a traditional Kirby game, it was still warmly-received for its unique artstyle and identity. Finally, the long-lost GameCube Kirby was released as Kirby's Return to Dream Land, which marked what many consider to be the start of a new era for the series, with a much more consistent release schedule of higher-quality titles.

  • The RTS crowd have been waiting years since Warcraft III for a new RTS title. Some believe ever since World of Warcraft (and MMORPGs in general) proved to be a bigger money maker than RTS games, this change in genre for the franchise marked the end of future RTS titles. Since then, StarCraft II has been released to scratch the RTS itch, but the wait for a Warcraft IV continues. Unfortunately for the fans, Blizzard's attempt to rekindle the RTS fans via Warcraft III: Reforged proved to be so utterly disastrousnote  that fans feared that they will not be able to escape the Dork Age of the RTS genre for Warcraft.

    Other games 
  • The .hack franchise went through a Dork Age starting with Hack//Link, a Japan-only PSP entry released back in 2010. The plot about a where a 14-year old called Tokio Kuryuu gets sucked into this new game (apparently physically) by a mysterious new classmate, Saika Amagi, via her PSP was met with highly negative feedback and critical reception, alongside horrible sales. Link was followed by an OVA called .hack//Quantum that received a similarly poor reception. 2012 saw three new entries on the franchise: a full-length CGI movie set in The World FORCE:ERA called .hack//Beyond The World, a game by the name of .hack//Versus and an OVA called The Thanatos Report. None of the works were well-received as they retconned a fair amount of the series extensive Lore. Fortunately the 2017 remake of the .hack//G.U. trilogy, .hack//G.U. Last Recode seemed to have steered the franchise back to a proper course. Worth nothing that it doesn't acknowledge any of the entries described here... Well, except for Link and only to make fun of it by having Haseo and Shino give a rather unflattering description of the ill-conceived plot of that game during a Parody Mode sketch.
  • The Ace Combat series went through such a period during The New '10s. After Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation underperformed in sales (largely due to being a Xbox 360 exclusive in a series that was until almost entirely exclusive to PlayStation consoles), developer Project Aces would go through a series of ill-advised experiments in an attempt to expand to a new audience, most notably by ditching the series "Strangereal" setting for the real world. The first game in this period, Ace Combat: Joint Assault, was criticized for the setting change but was otherwise thought as completely average entry; things however would really heat up with the next "main" game Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, which went toward a more gritty Call of Duty-esque direction and ditched many series staples for controversial new mechanics, most infamously Dogfight Mode. Other titles released in this period included Ace Combat: Northern Wings, a mobile phone spin-off thought to be amusingly crap due to its odd handling of the series' lore and generally sloppy nature, and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, a well-received remake of Ace Combat 2 that largely went unnoticed due to being a Nintendo 3DS exclusive and being branded in the west as a tie-in to Assault Horizon despite having little to do with it. Project Aces would later release the free-to-play title Ace Combat Infinity, which successfully appealed to nostalgia but was criticized for what many saw as embodying the worst aspects of the F2P model. Nevertheless, Infinity ended up being one of the most successful games in Namco's Free to Play initiative, enough for series producer Kazutoki Kono to get the greenlight for a proper sequel. Despite repeated delays and a troubled development, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown ended up bringing the series back in a big way, receiving nearly unanimous approval from the fanbase and breaking series launch records in multiple countries.
  • The Assassin's Creed games fell into one in the mid-2010s.
    • First, there was Assassin's Creed: Unity in 2014. The first game in the series made for eighth-generation consoles that wasn't a Polished Port like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag had been, Unity was an Obvious Beta at launch that suffered from horrible glitches, many of which quickly went memetic in the worst possible way. Ubisoft outright apologized for the state the game was released in, releasing the first DLC campaign for free and giving away a free gamenote  to everybody who bought the season pass for Unity as compensation, and temporarily halting the annualized release schedule of the Assassin's Creed games in order to give their studios more time to fix bugs. Worse, even after the bugs were ironed out, opinion on Unity was that it was merely So Okay, It's Average, especially on the story front, with criticism coming in for a cliched ending, a Romantic Plot Tumor in Arno and Elise's relationship, and a slanted portrayal of the events of The French Revolution that was rooted in royalist conspiracy theories from that era (such that the French leftist politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon called it "propaganda"). That said, the game has since started to be Vindicated by History when it was discovered that the in-game recreation of Notre Dame could be used to restore the original after it caught fire in early 2019.
    • Backlash against Unity wound up coloring the reception of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate in 2015, which was, despite lacking the awful bugs of Unity, still a sales disappointment that many critics judged perhaps more harshly than it deserved after the disaster of Unity. Among those who played it, while the story and characters were praised as a return to form (save for, again, some Romantic Plot Tumors and Relationship Writing Fumbles), the gameplay, while decent and up to the standard of the pre-Unity games, was seen as fairly stale and dependent on gimmicks like the gang warfare mechanic. The mixed reception for the film adaptation in 2016 didn't help matters either. The far more positive reception for Assassin's Creed Origins in 2017, which benefited from Ubisoft's focus on giving the developers more time (Syndicate having already been well into production by the time they changed course) and heavily shook up the gameplay for the better, put the franchise back on its feet for good.
    • Retroactively, more people are saying it started with III. With that game getting a mixed reception from fans due to several controversial changes like Connor not being that likable compared to Ezio from the immediately preceding games, Desmond having to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world in a connection to the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse that was Ripped from the Headlines (that ultimately was proven completely pointless), buggy and unpolished gameplay, and other things. While Black Flag was well-received, the series was mostly left directionless due to losing the main modern day protagonist that was driving it for the next several games and not being replaced with anyone else until Origins. The overall narrative set up at the end of III keeps getting forgotten with each successive game (the plot of the Goddess, Juno, Desmond set free with sacrificing himself has gone nowhere since Rogue and wasn't really an overwhelming presence, coming right out of nowhere when it was reintroduced at the end of that game), the historical accuracy (which the game series is often lauded for and took very seriously for the longest time) isn't as much of a priority in some of the newer games, the internal continuity of the series not being much of a priority, even from one game to the next with Odyssey trying to have Kassandra/Alexios (depending on who you played) and Aya related to each other, even though it doesn't match up with the in-series timeline or where both games take place, for example, and the shifts the series has taken in terms of gameplay structure. Up until Syndicate, the series was a stealth game series with a heavy emphasis on linear storytelling centered around the modern day protagonist learning about the Assassin Brotherhood through the Animus and having the modern day segments be linked to the past ones, which may or may not have worked depending on your opinion of said games. From Origins on, the series switched gears to being Action RPGs and being very heavily influenced by The Witcher, only not as well done. While most were fine with Origins, Odyssey proved very divisive with the fanbase due to continuity errors, inconsistencies, game elements that don't make much sense, historical accuracy problems (such as the presence of female warriors and mostly glossing over the misogyny of antiquity era Greece), and other things, while casuals have had some problems with how some elements were handled such as the fact that Kassandra/Alexios were set up to be bisexual or even just gay or straight if the player wanted them to be, only for one of the DLCs to make them canonically straight at the end of it, which Ubisoft later patched to change that. Ubisoft's introduction of intrusive microtransactions that affect gameplay (such as limiting how much experience you gain through grinding to entice players to buy with real money packs that increase how much experience points you gain) hasn't sat well with most players, as well as the game's bad balance of the fact that, if you're only a few levels below your enemies, you can get curb stomped or will just have a very tough time beating them. Origins had a good balance and amount of experience points you gain, so Odyssey has no excuse for why they changed it so much. Some people have given up on the franchise being like it once was or are just cautious towards new games as a result.
  • In a combination of this and Sequelitis, with no less than one release every year, the Atelier series has gone through a few dork ages due to all of its sequels. The first dork age came with the Iris trilogy, which were divisive to say the least as these games strayed too far from the original Item Crafting formula that had been a series staple five games prior, and felt more like average traditional RPGs with the usual "save the world" plots. The fact that these games were the first to be localized in the west didn't help matters as they skewered western perception of the series and caused a lot of fans to overlook item crafting as an "unoriginal" gimmick. Even attempts to legitimately mix up the franchise such as Mana Khemia and Atelier Annie, which added a little Simulation Game to the mix with its focus on helping to develop an island, sometimes came off as a bit stale, and quality assurance took a precipitous dip in the late Noughts, as evidenced by Atelier Liese and Mana Khemia 2 and their evisceration in the Japanese gaming press (the voluntary recall of Atelier Liese notwithstanding). The series was on a roll again with the Arland and Dusk trilogies up until Atelier Shallie, which ended the Dusk trilogy in a disappointing manner, with Atelier Sophie selling mostly because of the promises that Atelier would be going back to its roots. People then found out that Sophie was anything but that, which led to the low sales of the other two of the Mysterious trilogy and marked the beginning of the second dork age. It didn't help that Atelier Firis launched in a horribly buggy state, and while Atelier Lydie & Suelle was more well-received, it was already too late for the trilogy. However, Gust seems to have learned from this, as thier brief return to the Arland saga with Atelier Lulua was generally met with postive reviews, and Atelier Ryza turned out to be the best-selling Atelier game in Japan in decades. It appears the series has recovered from its long string of dork ages, at least for the time being.
  • Backyard Sports, with the games from 2006 onward. There had been numerous character changes and removed characters, and the announcers were incredibly boring.
  • In the late 1990s, Konami farmed out the development of the Contra series to Hungarian developer Appaloosa, resulting in the creation of the series' two PlayStation installments Contra: Legacy of War (which also saw release on the Sega Saturn) in 1996, and C: The Contra Adventure in 1998. Both games were critically panned when they came out and Konami even canceled plans to localize the first of the two titles in Japan after the negative reception it received, which makes one wonder why they would give Appaloosa a second chance. It's made all the worse by the fact that Legacy of War relied on a 3D glasses gimmick for sales (we're talking '50s B-Movie red/blue cardboard glasses here) and massively derailed existing characters and canon, considering these followed on from Contra: Hard Corps, one of the more story-heavy Contra games, it did not go well. It should be noted that both games are explicitly exiled from the Contra canon. Contra: Rogue Corps was panned heavily because of seemingly returning in the style of this Dork Age, in addition of the already destroyed reputation of Konami thanks to previous controversies.
  • Originally a popular mobile game, Supercell's Clash of Clans began suffering from a severe drop in both playerbase and ratings as a result of releasing a very poorly received Town Hall 11 update by December 2015. Common complaints include the severely increasing difficulty of finding loot due to shield changes, the complete and total nerf to Town Hall sniping due to them giving no shield at all that upsets a lot of players along with the Personal Break Timer that punishes players just for having a successful defense.
  • Fans of the Crash Bandicoot series generally consider the departure of series creator Naughty Dog in 2000 to be the start of the series' descent into mediocrity, with Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex and Crash Nitro Kart being seen as uninspired copies of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped and Crash Team Racing respectively. An attempt was made to freshen up the series with Crash Twinsanity, but while it did meet a better reception from series fans, its Obvious Beta status caused it to sell poorly. Radical Entertainment would proceed to release Crash of the Titans and Crash: Mind Over Mutant, which received a mixed reception and led to the series going into hibernation for eight years until the well-received Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled released, and even a brand-new platformer installment in the form of the cheekily-titled Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, marking the end of Crash's Dork Age for the time being.
  • The DmC: Devil May Cry era could be seen as this to the Devil May Cry franchise. Originally announced as a prequel in 2010, the game, which was being developed by Ninja Theory, was routinely savaged by fans for taking many liberties with the source material (making a series noted for its Camp Darker and Edgier, throwing in shallow satire...). Even shunting it into its own continuity did little to alleviate complaints. Not helping matters was director Tameem Antoniades dishing out several potshots at the fanbase for not liking the game, and still expecting them to buy it. Not surprisingly, the game flopped when it was released in 2013. Though Capcom would attempt to Win Back the Crowd by releasing the Special Edition of Devil May Cry 4 in 2015note , a proper fifth entry in the classic series wouldn't come until 2019. Fortunately, Devil May Cry 5 was much closer in tone and style to the first four games and earned acclaim as a return to form, ending the dork age for now. note 
  • Many Dota 2 players criticize versions 6.81 and 6.83 for having strategically one-dimensional metagame. 6.81 is known as "The Deathball Patch" because winning a few early-game fights gave such a huge advantage that the team could simply proceed to move as five and completely steamroll the enemy. This led to very predictable picks (you were lucky to have a single match without Death Prophet, Faceless Void, Razor or Brewmaster) and matches were considered rather boring in general because the end result was usually determined before the 15 minute mark. 6.82 aimed to rectify these issues by granting bonus gold and XP for killing players with an advantage, thus giving the losing team a chance to make a comeback, but 6.83 (often called "The Rubber Band/Comeback Patch") went right into the opposite extreme by further increasing those bonuses. Gaining early-game dominance was effectively meaningless because certain carry heroes such as Sniper, Juggernaut and Troll Warlord (needless to say, you saw these heroes in almost every match) could easily turn the entire match around after scoring couple of inevitable kills and assists during high-ground defense and gaining enough gold to buy their core items.
  • The first two games in the Double Dragon series were pretty successful at the arcade and on consoles. The first NES game even sold out on the day of its release. But then came Double Dragon 3, which was farmed out to an external developer, featured a poorly-thought out plot involving Mineral MacGuffins, flat level designs, fewer moves than its predecessors, and an ill-conceived shopping gimmick obviously added as a transparent means of inserting more tokens into the machine. There were a couple more Double Dragon sequels after the third game, but the series never quite recovered from there: the NES version of the third game (while considered to be an improvement from the arcade version) is ridiculously hard, the SNES-exclusive fourth game was an Obvious Beta, and the last two games made before Technos went out of business were standard competitive fighting games that did nothing to stand out from an already overcrowded market. The movie "adaptation" of the series wasn't helping matters either... Thankfully, WayForward's 2012 reimagining is commonly seen as having done justice to the Double Dragon name (while not being afraid to make some jokes at its expense either). Unfortunately, the remake of Double Dragon II that followed (not developed by WayForward) proceeded to extinguish that goodwill. Then, that got followed up by Double Dragon IV, a divisive sequel to the original games from a developer with a usually good track record.
  • The Dungeon Keeper mobile "game", the first after several years in franchise limbo, not only angered fans but also created a media fallout that ended in Mythic Games' death.
  • Fallout:
    • There are ten years between Black Isle's Fallout 2 and Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3. There are two Fallout games between them — Microforte's Fallout Tactics and Interplay's In Name Only Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. Tactics was a competent game, albeit one that had severe issues with staying within the established continuity (in a world where World War III was brought on by a crippling energy crisis, many bases have full drums of fuel just lying around more than a hundred years later, et cetera). The same cannot be said of Brotherhood, a second-rate Baldur's Gate clone with a paper-thin Fallout veneer and much greater continuity errors. Bethesda has proclaimed Tactics to be Broad Strokes canon, while Brotherhood is full-on Canon Discontinuity.
    • Most fans will agree that at least part of the Bethesda era of Fallout games is a Dork Age, the only debate being over when the Dork Age began. Some put it as far back as Fallout 3 for heavily streamlining the gameplay and storytelling, often while pointing to the much-better-received Fallout: New Vegas, which was also a First-Person Shooter built on the same engine as 3, as "3 done right" (its studio, Obsidian Entertainment, was founded by many people who worked on the first two games), though that game also has plenty of defenders who view it as a great translation of classic Fallout to the expectations of modern gamers, and New Vegas as an Even Better Sequel. Both 3's defenders and detractors, however, are unlikely to be favorable to Fallout 4, which many felt took the problems of 3 and blew them up to poster size, and even that game's defenders outright recoiled at Fallout 76, an attempt at an online "live service" Fallout game that quickly became notorious for crippling bugs and a long series of PR disasters on the part of Bethesda. The general consensus is that, wherever the Dork Age started, Fallout is definitely in a bad one now, and likely will be for as long as Bethesda controls the franchise.
  • The early days of Gran Turismo Sport were seen as this for the Gran Turismo series. Abandoning the series' trademark "CarPG" formula, including a lot of the tuning, in favor of an online-focused model built around e-sports that required a constant internet connection was, needless to say, a bitterly polarizing move for much of the fanbase. It didn't help that the vehicle and track rosters were greatly slimmed down compared to past games, with many of the cars being fictional race-tuned versions of the production cars (seen by a number of fans as glorified Palette Swaps) and the game's online structure heavily leaning on them, further alienating those for whom the appeal of a simulation racer was racing and collecting real, painstakingly-recreated production vehicles. Things got better over time, as Polyphony Digital greatly expanded the number of tracks and cars available and, most importantly, added a proper single-player mode like the older games in the form of the GT League events — all for free. The general consensus is that, while its single-player offerings are still lacking compared to competitors like Forza, GT Sport now at least has some value for people who aren't interested in multiplayer. So far, previews of Gran Turismo 7 indicate that Polyphony Digital has listened to the criticisms of GT Sport and will return to the "CarPG" formula for the series' PlayStation 5 debut, with a greater balance of single-player and multiplayer content right from the start.
  • The Harvest Moon fandom is torn on what time period their Dork Age spans but it's generally thought to have began around Magical Melody and DS. The characters are seen as shallower, several disliked mechanics have been tried out, and the series as a whole got Lighter and Softer. It got worse when Marvelous said they were focusing on handhelds instead of consoles; and it shows as they released six DS games but only two, near identical Wii games. Even Yasuhiro Wada has shown dislike to the way the games have gotten; he especially dislikes how much focus romance is given within the series. That said, the Wii games were acclaimed (though they still weren't perfect) and the 3DS game, A New Beginning, is seen as an improvement over the past handheld installments.
  • While the Daniel Craig era of James Bond films is overall popular among fans of the series (albeit with its ups and downs), the Bond games from that era are another matter entirely. Starting with GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, Electronic Arts and then Activision took turns milking the franchise with games that were usually regarded as So Okay, It's Average at best, with only GoldenEye (2010) receiving truly positive reviews — and even that game produces a Broken Base among fans of the original Nintendo 64 GoldenEye. The games bottomed out in 2012 with 007 Legends, which met such a bad reception that it's rumored that Eon Productions pulled the license from Activision in order to stop them from making new Bond games and sullying the brand any further (which would explain why all of the Activision Bond games were pulled from online stores just over two months after it came out). It would take another eight years for a new Bond game (by IO Interactive) to be so much as announced.
  • League of Legends had very tight and involved lore development for a MOBA, to the point where it even had its own subsection in the main client (the "Journal of Justice"). However, around 2012, the lore team switched hands, and much of their narrative philosophy changed, causing them to throw out a lot of old lore and start again. Newer heroes were considered uninspiring and bland, with little to no motivation to join the League, while some old characters had their entire backstories changed to very mixed reception. Eventually Riot decided to retcon the whole Institute of War in an attempt to appeal to the e-sports scene, angering lore fans even more.
    • However, the dork age for the lore finally ended when the Bilgewater event was released. While some decisions were mixed at best (such as Gangplank's disable from all queues to coincide with his "death"), the following events and champion updates started to make the champions interact with each other even more; although infrequent, the new lores are actually being more well-received each passing rework/addition.
  • The Leisure Suit Larry series entered a Dork Age with the games starring Larry Lovage (Magna Cum Laude and Box Office Bust). It is worth noting that Al Lowe, the series' creator, isn't involved with either of them. Judging by his site, he'd be more than happy to give them advice, and is also more than happy he wasn't involved when the games bombed. The most recent game to be released, Wet Dreams Don't Dry, has managed to Win Back the Crowd, meaning that Larry's dork age has come to an end for the moment.
  • Mortal Kombat was another fighting series that went through this.
    • Mortal Kombat 3 and its Updated Re-release Ultimate tweaked the familiar gameplay formula to add a few improvements, but the creative decision to mix a Darker and Edgier storyline with a significantly Denser and Wackier aesthetic and tone left all but the most competitively-focused players scratching their heads. In addition to leaving out fan-favorite Scorpion in the first release (which Ultimate wisely fixed), many character designs were notably more cheesy-looking than before and the series' iconic Finishing Moves became much more cartoonish and silly. Many fatalities look outright comical in their laziness when compared to their gruesome presentation in Mortal Kombat II, with dismemberment resembling a cut-up photograph and explosions raining down dozens of skulls, femurs and ribcages from a single victim. It didn't send the franchise off a cliff (gameplay-wise, it still held up as well as its predecessor), but it did cause a great deal of the series' "cool" factor to dissipate, quickly erased its reputation as an infamous pop-culture touchstone, and heralded the true Dork Age that was to come.
    • After Mortal Kombat 4 hit the Polygon Ceiling, the series seemed to have reached a stalemate with a largely undistinguishable (except for an expanded character roster) Updated Re-release for Dreamcast, Mortal Kombat Gold, and the PlayStation-exclusive Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, an utterly horrible action spin-off. In the wake of this, John Tobias jumped ship from the creative team, and the series laid low as the gaming industry entered its new generation — between Special Forces and the next entry in the series, there was a three-year gap.
    • The trilogy of Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon are not remembered as fondly as they were received. Deadly Alliance once again totally revamped the series' basic mechanics, for better or for worse, and introduced a few hit-or-miss characters while omitting classic ones, including killing off Liu Kang. Deception only doubled down on both of those things, but did bring Liu Kang back as a zombie and "brought back the nostalgia characters". Finally, Armageddon replaced the unique Fatalities with attack chains to accommodate for all the characters present and a bizarre backstory, for which the developers didn't even release all the characters' bios (17 out of a possible 62).
    • And then there was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which can be seen as Midway trying to figure out what to do with the series. It's not necessarily a bad game, but it's a firm indicator of Mortal Kombat's Dork Age, because the simple fact of it being rated T by ESRB (due to the DC superheroes) made this game a standout, and not in a positive way: it meant a lot of what players knew of MK would be inevitably Bowdlerised (mainly the explicit Gorn, which was reduced to the odd blood spill here and there, and censored Fatalities — even more so than the home versions of the original game). It ultimately took Midway filing for bankruptcy and seeing its assets acquired by WB Games for the series to get back on track-the bankruptcy/acquisition period allowed for Midway Studios (now reincarnated as Netherrealm Studios) to sort out what worked and what didn't work and then return the series to form with the well-received Mortal Kombat 9, as well as using their experience on the DC end of things to turn out Injustice: Gods Among Us, a cool all-DC fighting game. There's a (mostly-joking) conspiracy theory that WB deliberately gimped MK vs. DC in order to facilitate their buyout of Midway.
  • The Need for Speed franchise had one. While several older fans claim the entire Underground era to be Fanon Discontinuity, most fans generally point to Carbon in 2006 as the beginning of the series' downward slide (especially coming on the heels of Most Wanted in 2005, generally regarded as one of the series' high points), and ProStreet and Undercover in the ensuing years as the nadir of NFS' dork age. In any event, it ended with the release of the very well-received Shift in 2009 and Hot Pursuit in 2010, which brought the series back to its focus on exotic cars and away from the burned-out "tuner" culture.

    Since then, however, a Broken Base has emerged between "exotic" fans, who prefer the games when they're focused on supercars and exotic locales, and "tuner" fans, who prefer car customization and city racing. This produced a case of Critical Dissonance on the 2012 Most Wanted and 2013's Rivals, as fans of exotics (which included the majority of critics) loved these games but fans of tuners hated them. When the 2015 entry (titled simply Need for Speed) tried to go back to the tuner well in response to these complaints, it was seen as having put the series into a second Dork Age, which wasn't helped by a number of genuinely controversial design decisions that both exotic fans and tuner fans hated, such as the driving physics being recycled from Rivals, the Rubber-Band A.I. (a long-standing problem with the series, but one that was especially glaring here), and the game requiring online connectivity for seemingly no reason. 2017's Need for Speed Payback only deepened the hole, incorporating microtransactions and loot-box mechanics that many players saw as purely exploitative in a full-price retail game. Fortunately, the positive reception of 2019's Need for Speed Heat, which fixed most of the issues from Payback and is seen as a return to the 2000s roots with a balanced selection of exotic and "tuner" cars, helped put an end to the second Dork Age.
  • Overwatch had a distinctly rough patch of between mid-2018 and 2019, a period of stagnation that led to a significant downturn in audience support, layering on additional reputation problems with Blizzard as a whole (see below for more). For Overwatch in particular, supplementary lore content had almost completely stalled out, with the plot of the game hyped up at its release making almost zero forward motion, instead prolonging focus on establishing backstory and new major characters over time, if even that. Gameplay-wise, Overwatch was rocked into its absolute most complacent meta with the introduction of Brigitte (ironically introduced to kill a different stagnant meta) and the rise of the "GOATS comp"note , and even Blizzard's oft-supported professional scene saw many high-profile retirements of big players hopping onto other games like Valorant. The game has since seen a slight uptick following the announcement that Blizzard was focusing efforts on a major ​semi-sequel/expansion, Overwatch 2 ​(promising an actual dedicated story campaign and other radical gameplay additions), along with implementation of new, generally well-received systems (including a full "role lock" to completely kill off GOATS, and an "Experimental Card" mode to test out proposed balance changes to allow for faster and more informed balance decisions), bringing the game back to to what has been widely seen as its healthiest and most stable state in years, even if the lack of content is still an issue. With Overwatch 2 still being in development with no release date in sight, it has yet to be determined whether or not it will manage to fully salvage Overwatch and Blizzard as a whole in the eyes of the masses.
  • The Pac-Man franchise has had two.
    • The first Dork Age started around the mid-1980s and lasted into the early-to-mid 1990s. Around this time, the series found itself stagnating, with little except ports of the arcade games that were often considered dated compared to their contemporaries on the Super NES and Sega Genesis. Namco would attempt to experiment with titles like the polarizing Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures and Pac-in-Time, a Dolled-Up Installment of Fury of the Furries, but none of these made the series any more popular or relevant. The only real successful titles released during this era were Pac-Attack (a reskin of Cosmo Gang: The Puzzle) and Pac-Mania. This Dork Age came to an end in 1999 with the release of Pac-Man World on the PlayStation.
    • The second Dork Age is often considered to be around 2009, when Namco decided to reboot the brand, showcasing a prototype of their redesign in Pac-Man Party, a Mario Party clone that earned mediocre reviews and unimpressive sales. Then Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was announced, along with a tie-in video game and a whole line of toys. The show gained massive amounts of negative publicity right out of the gate, and along with Sonic Boom and (occasionally) Mega Man: Fully Charged is often considered the poster boy for unnecessary video game redesigns.

      Championship Edition DX proceeded to outsell both Ghostly Adventures games combined. Possibly because of this and Masahiro Sakurai's decision to include the classic design in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Namco seemed to start listening to fan backlash, as merchandising and advertisements featuring Pac-Man's redesign were slowly phased out in flavor of his iconic Pie-Eyed design. All Pac-Man games that followed ditched this redesign as well.
  • The Puyo Puyo series fell into one during 1998-2001, due to Puyo Puyo~n coming down with a bad case of Sequelitis and Compile frantically trying to Follow the Leader with various fads at the time like DanceDanceRevolution and Pokémon in a desperate attempt to stave off bankruptcy (which didn't really work out for them in the end). There was also a push for a unified timeline, which ended up creating a Broken Base amongst the fanbase (the newer crowd loved it, while the old guard... didn't). In fact, some would argue that the series started to show signs of the dork age in Puyo Puyo Sun, which ended up getting a mixed reception in the arcades as well as Compile exploiting the franchise' popularity with a glut of games in order to avoid the aforementioned bankruptcy. It should also be noted that this was when Sega owned the series and yet Compile still had near-complete control. When Sega later claimed full rights to the series after Compile's demise, they at first tried to keep it in tone with the older games with Puyo Pop for the Game Boy Advance, before opting for a Soft Reboot altogether, throwing in a new setting with new characters with Puyo Puyo Fever. It wouldn't be until 15th Anniversary when the older Compile-era characters would start making a return, albeit with a few tweaks to fit in with Sega's new setting.
  • The Rayman series has the infamous Rabbid era from 2006 to 2008. The fourth game in the series introduced Rabbids, one-joke characters who don't do anything but scream "DAAAAAAAAAAAH" at the top of their lungs. Due to Executive Meddling, the game, originally planned as a platformer like its predecessors, shifted into a party game (though the Game Boy Advance version was still made a platformer). In the next two games, the Rabbids ended up stealing the entire show and the eponymous hero was demoted to Butt-Monkey. Fortunately, Rabbids Go Home, the next game involving the Rabbids, removed Rayman entirely, while Rayman himself came back in force in his own adventure in Rayman Origins, though interestingly the Rabbids themselves have not only an animated series on Nickelodeon but a crossover with (of all series) Super Mario Bros., which ended up winning critical acclaim against all odds.
  • Resident Evil fell into one in the wake of the poor reception of Operation Raccoon City and the mixed reception of Resident Evil 6 in 2012, the main complaint being that the series veered too far from its Survival Horror roots in an attempt to me-too shooters like Gears of Warnote  and Modern Warfare. While the 3DS title Resident Evil: Revelations was much better received and is canonically a main series title, it was a portable game on a Nintendo handheld and received a much smaller marketing push than ORC and RE6 did. Some would argue that the Dork Age began with Resident Evil 5 in 2009, though that game, while divisive among fans, received fairly positive reviews at the time.

    Revelations was eventually ported to PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PCs, giving the game more mainstream exposure, followed by the release of a sequel that also took a crack at Revisiting the Roots, leading many to tentatively declare that the Dork Age was over. Then came the announcement of Umbrella Corps, another co-op/competitive multiplayer shooter, making fans wonder if Capcom learned anything from ORC. On the other hand, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which had been announced long before either Revelations 2 or Umbrella Corps but suffered from a drought of information following said announcement, was fully unveiled at E3 2016, showing that the series was pushing further towards the style of the pre-RE4 games, and was eventually released in early 2017. While several fans felt the game went too far in the horror direction and aped first-person horror games like P.T., Outlast, Condemned, and Amnesia; the game was otherwise widely well-received by reviewers and many fans. The excellent reception of the remake of Resident Evil 2 in 2019, which fused RE7's commitment to pure survival horror with the third-person gameplay of RE4, signaled that the Dork Age was well and truly over, at least for the time being.
  • Roblox users often dispute when it started, but the game suffered from this the most starting from 2016. At the beginning, high profile gaming YouTubers like DanTDM started to play, resulting in a massive Newbie Boom mainly consisting of very young children, and Roblox's subsequent heavy marketing to them which alienated many veteran players. Tickets were abruptly discontinued in March of that year, making free-to-play users unable to obtain any clothing except items given out for free. In August an AI-based filter called Communify Sift was implemented in the games, chat, and forums. But it was 2017 when the Dork Age began to accelerate. Starting out that year with a logo redesign that gained mixed to negative reception. Bad publicity from mainstream news sites resulted in the Community Sift filter going crazy and censoring even simple words like pronouns and conjunctions. In July the forums were reduced to be about Roblox only, then removed altogether at the beginning of December. Guest players were also removed so that the site could get more users, despite the fact that many if not most accounts on the site are inactive or alts.
  • Rock Band's "hardcore" fan base often think 2012 is a dork age for their Downloadable Content. Most of the new releases now come in threes and with only one Pro Guitar/Bass upgrade, and a not insignificant amount of them are from the (often late) Turn of the Millennium and The New '10s which they stereotypically consider "crappy." (Nothing really exciting for them was released minus an Iron Maiden 6-pack and a Slayer pack.) Plus, they are often considered "too easy."
  • RuneScape is often considered to have gone through this after the game's creators, the Gower brothers, handed off its reigns to Mark Gerhard, one of the senior mods. This is mostly related to two controversial gameplay changes Gerhard introduced: first, the implementation of microtransactions, something the Gowers promised they would never do, and second, a complete overhaul of the combat system which was seen by numerous fans as a cynical attempt to ape World of Warcraft. Jagex heard the criticisms of the combat system and as a result introduced both "Old School" worlds that allow players to experience the game as it was in 2007, and a poll wherein players voted to introduce the option to toggle between the old and new combat systems on the main worlds, as well. On the plus side, Gerhard's tenure also coincided with some very well-received advances to the game's Myth Arc, including tying up plot points that had been dangling for nearly a decade.
  • Silent Hill is notorious for its horribly Broken Base, but most fans will agree that the series peaked with the first three games, and the existence of a franchise Dork Age is nearly unanimous. The general summation of this is a reverence for "Team Silent" and a mistrust of the games in which this development team was not involved.
    • That said, the consensus is that Silent Hill 4: The Room, the last of the Team Silent entries, is where the slide began. It was a Dolled-Up Installment, and it shows; while many fans feel that it's perfectly alright as a standalone Survival Horror game, it diverges from series tradition in many ways, including downplaying the Otherworld, having the player go through every level twice, and featuring a Hub Level in the protagonist's apartment that takes place in a first-person perspective (unlike the rest of the game) and produces lots of needless backtracking for saves and inventory management.
    • Silent Hill: 0rigins, a prequel by the British developer Climax Studios, was the first game not developed by Team Silent. It was seen as a rather meager entry for having a main character whose own motivation and goal were rather vague at best and outright filmsy at worst, and having some rather glaring Series Continuity Errors.
    • Silent Hill: Homecoming, developed by the American developer Double Helix, was met with some degree of skepticism, as some fans felt that it was too slanted towards being an Actionized Sequel, too "Americanized", took too many cues from the somewhat controversial Silent Hill film, and favored Pandering to the Base over actual symbolism. On the whole, however, the game ended up being mostly seen as So Okay, It's Average.
    • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories broke the fanbase further, between those convinced that the series remained mired in suck and those who believe this entry was fresh and compelling enough to possibly signal a revival of the franchise. Its removal of combat entirely in favor of chase sequences was one of the biggest sticking points. While some felt these sequences to be innovative, intense, and a welcome break from the Actionized Sequel mold that the series had fallen into, and liked the focus on puzzle-solving that characterized the rest of the game, others felt that the chases were the only scary sequences in the game, since the Player Character couldn't die at any other point. Furthermore, it didn't even pretend to be canon with the rest of the series, instead serving as a loose remake of the first game with a Dead All Along twist. While some fans appreciated that the plot didn't get tangled in the series' lore, others were disappointed that it didn't move the Myth Arc forward.
    • Reception to Silent Hill: Downpour was far more positive. While it was clearly rushed out the door and filled with bugs (a problem that would also bedevil the Silent Hill HD Collection, an Updated Re-release of the second and third games that same year), those who soldiered through it praised it as a return to form in terms of atmosphere and pure frights, even if they felt that the monster design and combat were lacking. Unfortunately, save for the Hack and Slash spinoff Silent Hill: Book of Memories later that year, it wound up as the last game in the series. The announcement of Silent Hills, a collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, got even the most jaded fans interested in the series again... until it got cancelled in a dreadful case of Screwed by the Publisher, which (along with the announcement of a Silent Hill slot machine) has many fans wishing the Ten Plagues on Konami and fearing that the series may never escape its Dork Age.
  • SimCity (2013) capped off a long Dork Age for the SimCity series. Many fans regard the fourth game, released in 2003, as the series' apex for both its addition of regions with many cities and its Hidden Depths gameplay-wise. However, it was followed up in 2007 by SimCity Societies, which many fans found to be painfully easy and extremely shallow. The 2013 game was billed as a return to form, but its launch was plagued by disastrous server issues that rendered it, with its focus on online connectivity and multiplayer, unplayable for weeks. Worse, even after the server issues were fixed, people who sat down to play it found it once more to be heavily simplified, with the small map sizes and lack of terrain features in particular greatly restricting the kinds of cities that could be built; not even the Cities of Tomorrow expansion was able to fully salvage the game. The failures of the 2013 game, in fact, led directly to Paradox Interactive giving the green light to Cities: Skylines, a Spiritual Successor to the older SimCity games that was overtly marketed to fans disappointed with the later installments.
  • Fans of The Sims will defend the first two games until the day they die... but after that, there's a Broken Base between those who think that The Sims 3 put the series in a Dork Age, and those who love 3 and instead think that The Sims 4 did so.
    • To this day, The Sims 3 gets a lot of flak for being very poorly optimized. At the time it was released, it required a beast of a computer to run and only got worse with each new Expansion Pack added, to the point where the launcher not only allowed players to deactivate any expansions they didn't want to run but outright recommended that they only run a few at a time; even ten years later, some older computers can only run it on the lowest graphical settings. This was quite a problem for a series of games that, until then, were known for having a small hardware footprint. Much of this came down to its Wide-Open Sandbox design, allowing Sims to travel all across their neighborhoods with no loading screens — except for the initial one, which inevitably took a very long time. It also marked the point where the series' nickel-and-diming got truly out of control, most notably with the introduction of SimPoints to unlock items. That being said, the advance of computer technology has made it far easier to run the game on a mid-range computer as of 2020, causing it to be Vindicated by History for many simmers, especially those who took issue with the changes that 4 made. In particular, 3's fans will defend its open-world design, as well as the greater customization available for both clothing and items and a more realistic character design for Sims, one that would be fleshed out in the well-received spinoff The Sims Medieval.
    • Hence why the removal of those features from 4, with the neighborhoods broken up into smaller areas and items only having a few pre-selected colors and designs available, sparked controversy among the fanbase. This wasn't the end of it, either; at launch, the game did not have a number of features that past games had in their vanilla releases. Much of this can be attributed to last-minute design changes after the release of SimCity (2013); Maxis had originally intended for 4 to be built around online functionality much like that game was, but the new SimCity's sharply negative reception, with the online features singled out for criticism, forced them to hastily retool 4 into an offline single-player game, taking away time that could've been spent fleshing out the game's features. The game did slowly Win Back the Crowd, as free patches not only brought back things like ghosts, swimming pools, basements, family trees, babysitters, and toddlers, but also added new career options, some items, a neighborhood, half-walls, L-shaped staircases, ladders, and even the ability to create transgender Sims (a first for the series), on top of the usual expansion support (now without SimPoints). Many still miss the open world and customization options from 3 and feel that 4 regressed by abandoning them, but others argue that the game runs better without them, and can once more be played on low-end computers.
    • Unfortunately, the Dork Age returned in 2020 starting with the Eco Lifestyle pack, which many Sims fans felt to be a rehash of concepts featured in other expansions (especially the similarly environmental-themed Island Living) while features from prior games that they'd been demanding for years were nowhere to be seen. The Journey to Batuu game pack, a Product Placement tie-in with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, met a near-universally negative reception from fans and Sims YouTubers, with many seeing it as a soulless cash-in (or at least a Contractual Obligation Project) to the point where some abandoned 4 for older entries in the series. The announcement of Paralives, a competing Life Simulation Game, in 2019 only fueled discontent among Sims fans, especially as previews indicated that the game was offering everything that fans had been demanding from EA. The end of the year saw the developers once more working to rebuild the trust of the fans, starting with the Snowy Escape expansion where they recruited prominent Sims YouTubers for input on features and pre-built houses, as well as releasing a free patch that responded to long-simmering complaints about the skin tones in Create-a-Sim.note  Time will tell if the game manages to pull out again, though.
  • The Soul Series made it big in 1999 and throughout the 2000s was one of the top dogs of the fighting game genre. That said, the 2010s were not a favorable decade for the series and nearly marked the death of Soulcalibur as a whole. It came in two waves:
    • The first was the 2012 B-Team Sequel Soulcalibur V, directed by Daishi Odashima, who forced a 17-year Time Skip on the series just to introduce a new cast to replace series regulars like Taki and Sophitia. The protagonist, Sophitia's son Patroklos, wound up so hated that players just didn't care about the story. Even disregarding the lack of familiar faces, the game was Christmas Rushed with little content anywhere, and the gameplay imitated Street Fighter (of which Odashima was a fan) to reach tournament players—but it failed at even that, and the game was quickly dropped. The game's floundering sales, along with tepid fan reception, led publisher Namco to pull the plug on the DLC, with Odashima leaving the team and disappearing into Sega's offices. Unfortunately, the series's fortunes didn't stop sinking there.
    • The second came in a series of subpar spin-offs helmed by Masaki Hoshino, when there was little interest in a true Soulcalibur sequel at the time. After the So Okay, It's Average HD remaster of Soulcalibur II, Namco released two digital-only titles: Soulcalibur: Lost Swords, a single-player free-to-play game with DRM, dumbed-down gameplay, microtransactions and even more shameless fanservice than usual; and Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul, a Card Battle Game for iOS. Both games were widely ignored as blatant cash-grabs and shut down within about a year of release. Adding insult to injury was the release of Soulcalibur Pachislot in January 2017 with no sixth game in sight.
    • Fortunately, the dork age was completely wiped away in 2018, when a new and proper Soulcalibur VI was finally released. The game addressed all of the problems with V, being a Continuity Reboot that returns to the old status quo, brings back the favorites that were missed, features more content and better story, and more original gameplay mechanics that helped the series stand on its own. It was one of the highest-rated fighters of the eighth generation, and its sales quickly outpaced that of V with Namco reporting it as successful. However, the new head of the series, Motohiro Okubo, stated that this had to happen for Soul to survive as Namco was very reluctant to publish another mainline Soulcalibur game after everything that happened, marking most of the 2010s as this definitively.
  • For many SpongeBob SquarePants fans, they consider SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab to be the last original SpongeBob Licensed Game. After that, the dork age began when THQ focused on creating more tie-in titles to cash in on the special episodes that were airing at the time, such as Atlantis Squarepantis and Truth or Square, which were either mediocre at best or just poor at worst. Then the dork age reached its ugly peak when THQ went bankrupt in 2013 and the license was handed over to Activision, which resulted in poorly-made SpongeBob games such as Plankton's Robotic Revenge and SpongeBob Heropants. However, by 2018, 3 years after Heropants' release, Activision officially lost the SpongeBob license, and the newly revived THQ Nordic managed to secure the deal with plans to remake classic Nickelodeon games starting with SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, so time will tell if this helps the SpongeBob game franchise recover.
  • SSX fans may disagree as to whether or not Tricky or 3 was the best game, but it's generally agreed that the series started losing its touch with On Tour, which was still decent but dialed back the character and zaniness that had become emblematic of the franchise. Blur, the series' entry on the Wii, brought back the larger-than-life personalities but polarized fans with its motion controls, while SSX 2012 went Darker and Edgier in such a manner that left fans cold (even after those elements were toned down from the original Deadly Descents trailer). The franchise has been dormant since.
  • Star Trek Online, if what has been said on the official forums is true, has been in this position since Season 8.5. 8.5 saw the removal of the Hourly Events in favor of weekend events, which cheesed off players due to the fact that players used the Bonus Marks 3-hour event to grind marks for their Fleets. The start of this season also gave out a special event ship for the 4th anniversary, only to have it put behind a time gate due to the extra bells and whistles that went with it, a major deviation from year 2 and 3's ships. It got worse come Season 9, when it was revealed that the Reputation Powers players could get no longer stacked and that they were limited to 8 passives — four space and four ground — in an attempt to curb Power Creep before it got way out of hand. It also infuriated certain players because of the usage of Undine ships for Lockbox prizes and Lobi offerings, as many players felt that doing so broke canon and that Cryptic had promised them that they would never use the Undine as Lockbox prizes.
  • Star Wars games have been stuck in one since 2006 thanks to the shenanigans of LucasArts, Electronic Arts, and Disney. After the success of Empire at War, LucasArts underwent a serious turnover of executives that left the company in a dysfunctional state with mass layoffs and game cancellations. George Lucas's demands earned much bad blood between staff and leadership as he would make unreasonable demands in mid-development. note  Since then the only games released were two The Force Unleashed titles, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and a Kinect game; all of these games have received mixed reviews and performed below expectations with the Kinect game becoming a target of mockery among pundits. The underwhelming output lead to Disney shuttering LucasArts in 2013 after buying out parent company LucasFilm.

    And things only went from bad to worse when Disney gave EA the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games starting in 2013. In the same year that the agreement was finalized, the executives who oversaw negotiations departed from the company. Their replacements, however, weren't involved in the original negotiations and thus didn't seem interested making new Star Wars games. CEO Andrew Wilson in particular was rumored to have hated the deal since EA would have to surrender profits and creative control to Disney, leading to their Star Wars games becoming treated as Contractual Obligation Projects. From 2013 to 2018, EA released only two Battlefront games, both of which were disappointments for fans with the first entry getting criticized for being rushed to market with minimal content while the sequel was mired in a massive loot box controversy that involved manipulative and aggressive monetization in a retail game, as well as a mediocre The Sims 4 tie-in with the Journey to Batuu game pack have extremely negative reaction from fans who see it as sellout to a game ridiculed for its lack of features and expensive monetization of expansion and content packs. EA also cancelled single player action-adventure games, including one that was supposed to be overseen by Amy Hennig of Uncharted fame, out of a belief that linear games didn't appealed to casual audiences and couldn't be heavily monetized. Nowadays, many see the Disney-era Star Wars games as low-effort cash grabs compared to other licensed games like Spider-Man (PS4) and the Batman: Arkham Series. It didn't help matters that Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that he is happy with continuing to license Star Wars to EA if only because it would provide low-risk stream of revenue for Disney. The Dork Age would show signs of reprieve in 2019 with the critical and commercial success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a Dark Souls/Uncharted-esque single-player experience with no monetization, followed a year later by the similarly well-received Star Wars: Squadrons. The 2021 announcement that the Lucasfilms Games brand would be revived and that Disney would begin allowing other studios to handle Lucasfilms licenses (while still working with EA) gave further optimism to fans of a potential end to the Dork Age.
    • The makers of the MMO Star Wars: Galaxies decided it wasn't successful enough, so they came up with the "New Game Experience", which involved massive changes to the game mechanics, combat system, character classes, and everything else, in the hope of attracting a whole new demographic. The result was an existing player base that was thoroughly (and vocally) pissed off, a new player base that never materialised, and a huge drop in subscriptions (not officially admitted, but confirmed by user-written in-game surveying tools before the company caught on and disabled the tools). Other MMOs have done similar things on a less spectacular scale, but SWG's NGE is the infamous example everyone points to. One of the major reasons for this is that the developers changed the way one becomes a Jedi. Originally, players had to find a holocron and master whatever class tree it said to master, then the player may luck out and become a Jedi, or would receive another holocron and continue the cycle until they eventually became a Jedi. This, naturally, would be a grind. The New Game Experience let players start as a Jedi. Not only did this mean that everyone picked to be a Jedi while avoiding every other class, and pissing off those people unlucky enough to have had to master every class to become a Jedi before then, but it also royally futzed with the franchise's canon. You had many thousands of Jedi running around in the open when at that time in the official storyline, the only true, trained Jedi still living was Yoda. Just how bad is it? A new Star Wars MMO, handled by Knights of the Old Republic developer BioWare and set in the KoToR timeline to justify letting everyone be a Jedi, has since came along.
  • Street Fighter actually inverted this. When the Street Fighter III series came out, many people were turned off by all the changes and many dropped the series altogether. As time has passed however, many (namely the eSports crowd) looked back and were able to view the SFIII series, specifically the third iteration, 3rd Strike, much more favorably.
  • The Tales Series underwent a decline between Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Berseria when there was a shift from Darker and Edgier plots to Lighter and Softer plots with heavy emphasis on The Power of Friendship starting from Tales of Graces onward. This came at the cost of the story quality of the games which many fans feel was a major step down from the series' roots despite improved gameplay in several areas. While Tales of Xillia was better received (and it even dethroned Tales of Symphonia in sales), its story is still rather light and generic, and its sequel Tales of Xillia 2 was later criticised for its use of a Silent Protagonist which many fans feel is a farcry from the established protagonists of past games. Then the low point came from Tales of Zestiria for breaking way too many conventions that the series had developed by that point, and it became the most divisive main series game in its history. The backlash was so great that Bandai Namco Entertainment eventually listened to the complaints of the fans and they later released Tales of Berseria to critical acclaim. Although with Tales of Arise on the horizon, time will tell if the Tales series has fully recovered from its dork age.
  • The Tetris: The Grand Master series got better with each new release for its first three installments. Then came the very un-TGM-like Xbox 360 title Tetris: The Grand Master ACE, the tragic byproduct of The Tetris Company's and Microsoft's Executive Meddling. Most of the trademark TGM gameplay mechanics have been stripped (including Master Mode, and by extension the unique TGM-style leveling up and grade system), you get a variation of infinite spin (limit of 128 rotations and 128 movements) as opposed to TGM's "step reset" lock delay, and you need an Xbox Live Gold membership to unlock proper TGM rotation. It's considered an okay Tetris game, but a bad TGM game.
  • Fans of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise believe that it peaked with Pro Skater 2 through 4 and Tony Hawk's Underground, and that it lost its luster in the latter half of the '00s but didn't really fall off a cliff until the '10s.
    • While 2004's Underground 2 was still seen as rock-solid in terms of the core skateboarding gameplay, the juvenile humor (including featuring the cast of Jackass) turned off a lot of players, as did the vehicular and on-foot segments, both of which seemed to indicate that developer Neversoft was running out of ideas. It wasn't until the sixth generation, however, when the franchise truly grew stagnant as annualization took its toll. 2005's American Wasteland was praised for toning down Underground 2's Denser and Wackier elements but criticized for a Wide-Open Sandbox map that felt poorly thought-out and over-reliant on Dynamic Loading in the form of bland corridors separating various areas, as well as gameplay that felt easier than before. 2006's Project 8 attempted to take the series back to basics, but the "Nail the Trick" feature felt gimmicky, and more importantly, it was plagued by Obvious Beta bugs and a poor framerate. Finally, 2007's Proving Ground went Darker and Edgier and doubled down on Nail the Trick and the "back to basics" approach in an attempt to compete with EA Black Box's newly-announced competitor Skate, and came up wanting in comparison, with Skate outselling it two-to-one and winning acclaim for succeeding at almost every point where Proving Ground tried and failed. Notably, even Neversoft decided after Proving Ground that working on the games had become a chore and that it was time to hang it up, with the studio moving its effort to the Guitar Hero and Call of Duty franchises before being folded into Infinity Ward.
    • That said, even people who like the aforementioned games believe that the series well and truly lost the plot once Robomodo took over development from Neversoft. With Tony Hawk Ride in 2009 and its follow-up, Tony Hawk Shred in 2010, Robomodo attempted to revive the franchise by using a skateboard-shaped motion controller to simulate boarding movement, which not only failed to address any of the problems the series had been going through but also introduced several new ones. Both games failed so miserably that Activision was forced to put the Tony Hawk franchise on life support with the downloadable "back-to-basics" Pro Skater HD, a loose 2012 remake of the first two games that had mixed reception for its floaty controls, lack of content, and bugs, and the mobile Temple Run clone Shred Session, which was canceled after a soft launch in Australia and New Zealand in 2014. They attempted to revive the series in 2015 with Pro Skater 5, but its Obvious Beta state and resulting poor reception led many to believe that the franchise was done for. Fortunately, Pro Skater 1 + 2, a full remake of the first two games by Vicarious Visions in 2020, met rave reviews and marked a firm end to the Dork Age, at least for now.
  • Twisted Metal 3 and 4 were developed by 989 Studios rather than series' original developers, Singletrac. When the former staff members of Singletrac formed Incognito to develop the newer games in the franchise, it elected to wipe the events of those two titles from continuity.
  • The Valis series had lain dormant since the early 1990s, until its reputation was stained in 2006 by a series of H-Games titled Valis X, which Telenet Japan published in a desperate and failed attempt to avoid bankruptcy.
  • While Warhammer 40,000-based games made by Relic Entertainment (Dawn of War 1 and 2, Space Marine, etc.) have been generally well-received, the Dawn of War expansion that was farmed out to Iron Lore, Soulstorm, has received nothing but rancor. Canonically, the storyline of the previous expansion was a rousing success for the "Spess Mehreens", while the campaign of the Obvious Beta that was Soulstorm is considered an embarrassing defeat that is spoken of only with great reluctance. This is elaborated upon by fans that have noticed a few things: In Soulstorm, two factions in particular were noticeably overpowered by Iron Lore: Tau and, to a far far worse extent, Eldar. A lot of the other factions were barely complete, having only threadbare unit lineups or just plain weak units that weren't worth the resources they were made of. One of these factions hit the hardest were the In-Universe Butt-Monkey Imperial Guard. Later material that mentions the events in Soulstorm written by Games Workshop shows that the Imperial Guard won a massive victory over all other factions, the Tau were forced out of the sector entirely, and that the Eldar had lost an entire Craftworld due to the conflict. Even Dawn of War II takes multiple jabs at Soulstorm, with Blood Raven commander Indrick Boreale established as an infamous General Failure and the disastrous Kaurava campaign referred to as "a mistake" that should not be spoken of again, which seriously depleted the chapter's manpower, and ends up being part of Cyrus' reason for betrayal if he ends up as the traitor in Chaos Rising.
  • The three fully 3D Worms games — Worms 3D, Worms Forts and Worms 4: Mayhem — are widely seen as the nadir of the series, with fans pretty unanimously agreeing that the series' gameplay did not translate at all well to the third dimension, and even creators Team 17 reportedly regarding the games as an Old Shame. As a result, the next couple of games went back to a similar graphical style to Worms 2 and its follow-ups, before adopting a 2.5D style that really got the series back on-track.

  • Blizzard Entertainment became stuck in one since the late 2010s, beginning with BlizzCon 2018. At the convention, the only Diablo game shown was the mobile-exclusive Diablo Immortal, which was poorly received by the PC-centric audience who had paid upwards of $200 to attend the convention with the hopes of seeing a mainline title, as the last main entry as of the convention, Diablo III, was released back in 2012. What really cemented the cold reception was that Diablo Immortal was treated as The Climax to the convention, being shown at the very endnote . It didn't help that people working at Blizzard had teased fans of a new Diablo game being unveiled at BlizzCon 2018 for several months before the convention, which resulted in massive hype followed by bitter disappointment. One audience member (in)famously asked if the game was "an out-of-season April Fool’s joke" in the Q&A following the reveal. After the confirmation that there were no plans for a PC version was met with booing from the crowd—something that had never happened before at BlizzCon—the announcer Wyatt Cheng responded with "Do you guys not have phones?", revealing that the negative audience reception had taken him by surprise, which in turn led to legit concerns that Blizzard was losing touch with fans. Cheng's dismissive response quickly became a meme used to mock corporations who fail to understand their audiences. A week later, this Kotaku article by Nathan Grayson confirmed that Blizzard as a whole had not expected the fan vitriol from unveiling a mobile game as The Climax to a BlizzCon convention; on the contrary, they had honestly thought Diablo Immortal would be received enthusiastically by the audience. One month after BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard cancelled the e-sports side of Heroes of the Storm without any prior announcement or compensation for professional players, leaving them without any income for winter.

    2019 didn't improve for the Blizzard beginning with the company laying off over 800 employees in February after failing to meet expected earnings. Said expected earnings were set so high that the company had achieved record results in 2018, yet the executives thought it still wasn't enough. After the round of layoffs, fan-favorite developer and former CEO Mike Morhaime announced his departure from Blizzard to the disappointment of many Blizzard fans. In a later interview after forming his own company, Morhaime explained that he left the company out of frustration with the increasingly corporatized work culture and profit-oriented goals that clashed with his leadership. The departures were particularly worrisome as they lead to fears that Blizzard is being overtaken by its more profit-driven parent company Activision Blizzard. Even the company's flagship hero shooter Overwatch lost much of its clout with its loot box monetization system being likened to gambling, and several high-profile players left Overwatch for other games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. Then Blizzard infamously banned professional Hearthstone player "Blitzchung" in October 2019 for showing solidarity with Hong Kong protestors during a tournament; the ban was universally criticized by gamers, pundits and even some politicians as heavy-handed censorship aimed at appeasing the Chinese government and Blizzard's Chinese investors. Even those who thought "Blitzchung" should be punished for making a political speech during a non-political interview thought banning him for a year and revoking his winnings was disproportionately harsh. Not even halving "Blitzchung"'s ban to six months and returning his winnings, or the well-received World of Warcraft: Classic was enough for Blizzard to escape these controversies.

    The 2020s didn't get any better for the company either, starting with Warcraft III: Reforged getting lambasted as a buggy mess that even screwed over owners of the original gamenote . A report by gaming journalist Jason Schreier exposed the substandard working conditions at Blizzard with several employees being paid at minimum wage levels and couldn't buy lunch meals that are normally free at many corporations.

    In 2021, Blizzard reached its lowest point with a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard by the state of California. While the lawsuit was aimed at the entire company, Blizzard was singled out for egregious offensives that include denying promotions to high-performing female employees, kicking breastfeeding women out of lactation rooms to hold meetings, and allowing "cube crawl" games in which drunk male employees would go around cubicles to physically grope and molest womennote . Many doubt that parent company Activision Blizzard would stop the abuse since the company's executives were aware of Blizzard's harassment problems and the Activision side has not been any better since a female Activision employee committed suicide on a business trip with an abusive supervisor. This would be followed by another lawsuit, this time from shareholders who accused the company of downplaying the sexual harassment and their impact on the company's bottom line. The sexual harassment scandals became so toxic that many corporate brands like T-Mobile and Kellogg's withdrew sponsorship from Blizzard's already diminishing esports scene. It was also confirmed around this time that Warcraft III: Reforged had suffered from a Troubled Production, marred by mismanagement and a cripplingly low budget provided by the publisher out of the belief that a RTS game in 2020 wouldn't sell.note 

    In the past many respected the company, as noted by the unironic quote of "Blizzard can do no wrong", but Blizzard's scandals and revelation of those scandals, as well as how these all happened once per year in the span of four consecutive years since 2018, have tarnished the company's image in the eyes of many gamers and developers. Indeed, some of Blizzard's past employees have even gone as far as to publicly disown the company.
  • Infinity Ward, the studio that created Call of Duty, was stuck in one for much of the 2010s owing to a loss of talent. After the release of Modern Warfare 2 in 2009, the company entered a gradual downward spiral. In 2010, many of its staff left or were forced out by parent company Activision over payment issues, leaving the studio without many of its original creative minds, with new blood having to be brought in quickly to finish Modern Warfare 3 (and the results show, with the first third or so of the game being rather memorable, before the rest of the game simply rehashed setpieces from the previous two games).

    What was left of the original Infinity Ward promptly left after Modern Warfare 3, and subsequent releases from the new Infinity Ward, Ghosts and Infinite Warfare, were seen as weakest installments in the franchise; Ghosts was disliked for its weak campaign and rehashed Modern Warfare gameplay, and Infinite Warfare was criticized for copying the sci-fi gameplay of Halo and Titanfall, on top of being overshadowed by the inclusion of Modern Warfare Remastered.

    During that time, the fanbase came to view studios Treyarch and Sledgehammer, respectively the former "second fiddle" to Infinity Ward and a group that had not been in any way related to the franchise before 2011, as the better developers of Call of Duty, for being at least willing to innovate and update their games. However, Infinity Ward released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) to high praise from critics and fans for its refined gunplay and updated game engine. Also helping the game was the standalone free-to-play battle royale Warzone, which managed to increase active player base and longevity of Modern Warfare by functioning as a gateway game. Only time will tell if Infinity Ward can end their slump going into the 2020s.
  • SNK's fifteen-year period as SNK Playmore (from SNK's 2001 bankruptcy to 2016) is generally not remembered well. While they still made games during this period, the only franchises that got any attention were The King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown and Metal Slug and the games that did come out were hit-or-miss, while other series only got Compilation Re-releases.

    Around this time, SNK tried to give their series the 3D treatment to disastrous results such as the franchise-killing Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny and The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, which at least was a standalone spin-off. On top of all this, SNK Playmore mostly focused on Asia-only mobile and pachinko games to make ends meet.

    Things finally picked up in 2016, when their resources had finally been regathered and the company rebranded back to "SNK". They released The King of Fighters XIV and the 2019 Samurai Shodown game, which were acclaimed enough to earn a spot on the EVO Championship series. Around this time, SNK also licensed out its characters to appear in other games for better publicity, including Geese Howard in Tekken 7, Haohmaru in Soulcalibur VI, and Terry Bogard in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Fighting EX Layer.
    • The King of Fighters fans don't like looking back at The King of Fighters 2001, developed by South Korean developer Eolith. It's more glitchy and gimmicky than the rest of the series note , the music is often compared to a robot farting, and many of the new characters were ignored except for a scant few like May Lee. When SNK Playmore reclaimed the wheel with 2003, they immediately ignored several story elements from 2001, including Foxy's death and the character of K9999, who was such a blatant Captain Ersatz of AKIRA's Tetsuo Shima that he could have gotten SNK sued. The Eolith-developed 2002, on the other hand, is a better-regarded Dream Match Game and still one of the most frequently played KOF games in tournaments, even after the release of 2002: Unlimited Match.
    • Metal Slug 4 and 5 were farmed out to South Korea's Noise Factory, and had their own issues each.
      • Metal Slug 4 reused so many assets from previous games, including bosses created by mashing up different bosses' sprites, that it was compared to a glorified ROM hack.
      • Metal Slug 5 went through a Troubled Production where SNK Playmore took over late in development, then forced Noise Factory to overhaul the game and release it with no delays, resulting in an Obvious Beta with enough removed content to make a whole new game out of.
  • The Valve Corporation found themselves in a pretty dark period for much of the 2010s, which they themselves dubbed "The Wilderness". According to "The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx", the company found themselves in a technological rut following the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (2007) as their landmark Source engine was showing its age, and attention was being funneled into its successor, Source 2. Unfortunately, this development started to gel badly with Valve's ability to create new projects, so after the releases of Portal 2 (2011), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (2012), and Dota 2 (2013), Valve went completely radio silent in new major games and explanations thereof. While games were in fact being made, this silence was a big cause for concern among fans, not helped by their continued support of CS:GO and Dota but lack of attention for the aging Team Fortress 2.

    Combined with other questionable business pursuits throughout the rest of the decade (controversies surrounding quality control in Steam, their ill-fated Steam Machines, and the complete alienation resulting from Artifact), antipathy was brewing towards Valve and their stagnation, alongside a derisive attitude of how "Valve makes money, not games" (it seriously didn't help that all the games they were developing were sent straight to Development Hell, mostly due to organizational problems, victims including Left 4 Dead 3 and the infamous Half-Life 3). However, things appeared to have stabilized by the time of the Valve Index's release in 2019, paving the way for the surprise announcement of Half-Life: Alyx, which was released in 2020 to critical acclaim and commercial success, suggesting that Valve may be on its way out of the woods.
  • Warren Spector entered a Dork Age with Deus Ex: Invisible War, and immediately lost his accumulated industry and fan respect. He's managed to bounce back some, which is better than most other developer/producers in the same situation have been able to do (anyone remember what John Romero has been up to since Daikatana?) but still hasn't regained his former stature. Because of lingering rancor, Thief: Deadly Shadows received less fair critical reviews than it deserved, and Spector hasn't been invited to return for a sequel. He may have found a rehabilitation of his image in the unlikely vessel of a Mickey Mouse game, though its mixed reception (and Spector's claims that negative reviewers "misunderstood" the game) didn't make for the reputation resurrection that was hoped for.
  • Microsoft's gaming efforts on both the Xbox and PC were said to have gone through a Dork Age during the late 2000s and early 2010s.
    • The Xbox 360 had a fantastic first few years (hardware defects not withstanding), and quickly became the console of choice for many hardcore gamers thanks to its innovative console features and online services, as well as a series of blockbuster games.

      A few years into the 360's lifespan, however, Microsoft's Xbox division saw a turnover of executives which led to a change of strategy. This new leadership, led by Don Mattrick (formerly of EA), doubled down on revamping the console's software and services instead of focusing on delivering high quality exclusive games. While this approach led to some interesting developments, such as bringing Netflix streaming to consoles, it also produced a lot of ideas that simply weren't very well thought out or useful (anyone remember when they put Facebook on the Xbox 360?) at the expense of the core game library. Microsoft also released Kinect in 2010 to Follow the Leader of the Wii and its motion controls, and while the device was a hit initially, sales eventually petered out (also much like the Wii) as both users and developers quickly discovered its limitations, and Microsoft's focus on it well past that point alienated the hardcore gamers that it had attracted so well in the console's early years. While Microsoft was doing all this, the PlayStation 3 was allowed to rebuild its reputation and outpace the 360 when it came to exclusive game releases and, eventually, sales.

      All of this culminated in the disastrous reveal of the 360's successor, the Xbox One, in 2013. Almost immediately, the Xbox One triggered a major backlash due to its overly restrictive DRM and online connection requirements, perceived focus on TV services over games, and its inclusion of Kinect with all consoles, the last of which made its launch price $100 more than the PlayStation 4 despite the Xbox having weaker hardware. The console's disastrous reveal and launch was a wake up call for Microsoft; after E3 2013, they removed the controversial always online and DRM features, fired Don Mattrick and replaced him with fan-favorite Phil Spencer, and spent much of the One's lifespan trying to rebuild the image of Xbox, through measures such as releasing a cheaper Kinect-less version of the console in just six months, consumer-friendly features like backwards compatibility, support for cross-platform online play, and the Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service offering complimentary access to a variety of games, essentially a "Netflix for Games". While criticisms of the brand remain (most notably its lack of interesting exclusive games) many people agree that it is in a much better place than it was before, and see Microsoft in a strong position to launch the One's successor.
    • On the PC side of things, Microsoft’s gaming output became increasingly focused on its consoles during the mid to late Turn of the Millennium, to the point where they were hardly publishing any PC games at all by the start of the next decade. This was in spite of the company producing Microsoft Windows and DirectX, the operating system and Application Programming Interface used to develop the vast majority of PC games. A big factor in this was the failure of Games for Windows Live (GFWL), Microsoft’s attempt at introducing a unified gaming service for PC à la Xbox Live, which was widely panned by gamers as intrusive DRM. Meanwhile, Valve took over as the vanguard of PC gaming, with Steam offering the same kind of service that Microsoft promised with GFWL, while being much more user-friendly.

      However, Microsoft began to turn things around by the middle of The New '10s, around the same time they brought the Xbox out of its Dork Age. This began with the introduction of the "Play Anywhere" initiative, which not only meant that all future Microsoft-published games would come to PC, but that users could obtain both Xbox and PC versions with a single purchase. And, for those who didn’t want to buy them through the Windows Store, said games were also made available through Steam, though without the aforementioned cross-buy bonus. In 2019, Microsoft announced that they were bringing both their hit "Game Pass" subscription service and Halo: The Master Chief Collection to PC, finally bringing its flagship FPS franchise to the platform after a 12 year absence.

      2020 was regarded as a major turning point for Microsoft’s PC efforts, as it saw the release of two major PC-focused titles from the company, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, a game which pulled no punches in its hardware requirements, and Gears Tactics, a strategy game, a historically PC-centric genre due to the difficulties in implementing it with a controller. Both titles launched exclusively for PC, albeit with console versions planned later. With all of these efforts, it's safe to say that many PC gamers see Microsoft in a much better light than they did a few years prior.
  • In 2005, Sony Computer Entertainment were kings of the gaming world with the wild success of the PlayStation 1 and 2, so another successor to continue their dominance seemed inevitable. Enter the PlayStation 3, which was not only a graphical upgrade from the PS2, but doubled as a full-on multimedia appliance as it can go on the internet, display photos, play music from CDs or from memory cards, play previous-gen PlayStation games, and play this new-fangled optical disc format called Blu-Ray, an HD upgrade to DVD. The PS3 seemed poised to continue Sony's dominance in the gaming market...

    ...Except it didn't. The launch library was lackluster, lacking any definitive killer app to win gamers over from Microsoft's HD offering the Xbox 360 which had a year's head start, and many of the system's launch titles were also on Xbox 360. But the PS2 also lacked any hard-hitting launch games and still sold well because of its DVD player. However, the PS3's Blu-Ray player failed to win people over. Yes, Blu-Ray's picture quality was vastly superior to DVD, but the enhanced image quality could only be noticed on an HDTV, which were still expensive and out of the hands of many consumers, and the 2008 Recession only slowed the adoption of HDTVs further. So if you still owned a CRT, it made no sense to upgrade to Blu-Ray. But the killing blow was it's $599.99 price tag, which was still cheap for a Blu-Ray player, but was still more expensive than what many gamers were willing to pay for, especially with no definite Killer App. To Sony's credit, they did have a budget version available at launch with no wifi, no memory card readers, and a smaller hard drive for $499.99, but it was still cheaper to buy an Xbox 360, which was 399.99 for the premium model and $299.99 for the discounted model and already had a sizable game library, and the fact that multi-platform games tended to run better in Xbox 360 than PS3 due to the latter's technical complexities.

    What was worse was Sony's attitude, who had become convinced that they could slap the PlayStation logo on a bag of shit and it would sell, with statements like people would buy one even if there weren't any games for it, and that they wanted people to work two jobs to afford one. Then there was Sony's... interesting approach to advertising the PlayStation 3, which included rather creepy ads (most infamously a baby doll salivating over a PS3), which only served to confuse and frighten potential customers. This all served to alienate Sony's fanbase even further. To add insult to injury, an unexpected challenger rose to both consoles in the form of the Nintendo Wii, which proceeded to dominate the 7th generation and led to Nintendo reclaiming their throne as the dominant console manufacturer, humiliating Sony in the process as for the first time, they placed dead last in the console wars. In response, Sony marked down the price of the console and cut PS2 support for cost reasons, along with the memory card ports. Combined with some strong exclusives, a rebranding of the PS3 to coincide with the launch of the Slim model (which included the successful "It Only Does Everything" ad campaign, a far cry from the surreal ads of the early PS3 era, and also Sony abandoning the "Spider-Man" PS3 logo in favor of a logo more in line with the PS2 and PlayStation Portable on all marketing and game packaging), and Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot by suddenly deciding to shift the focus of the Xbox 360 to casual gamers in the late 2000s in a misguided attempt to compete directly with the Wii led to the PS3 eclipsing the Xbox 360 in popularity and reclaiming their dominance the following generation with the PlayStation 4.
  • Konami, despite having faced some problems in prior years, with the very poor reception of Bomberman Act: Zero and the divisive Castlevania: Lords of Shadow subseries, is widely considered to have fallen into one as of the end of 2015. Konami has lost all of its gaming manpower in its ill-conceived decision to try to go full on pachinko and has ever since limited to doing re-releases of their old games as a reminder that it was the previous decades that they were at their prime. At the same time, the company's mistreatment of employees and superstar developers lead to many quitting with notable icons like Hideo Kojima, Koji Igarashi or Yoshitaka Murayama independently creating their own games (or planning to). As such, their games tend to be 'hit or miss' (with the 'miss' being overly exaggerated by those justifiably pissed off at them and the 'hit' being merely So Okay, It's Average at best), or they limit themselves to either mobile games or supporting some indie games (and even they are aware of their negative reputation and had to reduce their advertisement chances as a result). They do find (more modest, not overwhelming) success instead in Japan, though, with some of their classic franchises like Live Powerful Pro Baseball and Hudsonsoft's Momotaro Densetsu, but with the nature of those games and their bad reputation, it's less likely they'll even try to bring it overseas, let alone use them as the cleanser of their Dork Age.
  • Capcom are often thought to have been in one of these for much of the late 2000s to the mid 2010s, where they were often derided by the nickname of "Crapcom". With some exceptions, a lot the games they released at the time were of questionable quality at best especially in their Westernization attempts by either outsourcing to Western developers or making more Western-esque games like Dead Rising or Lost Planet (though in the case of those two, they were admittedly respectable commercial and critical hits). However, the lowest point for the company was the departure of Mega Man producer Keiji Inafune who infamously declared at the time that "Japanese gaming was dead", and whose absence lead to the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. Coupled with numerous controversies like the true ending to Asura's Wrath being behind a paywall, the on-disc DLC for Street Fighter X Tekken, the lack of any Mega Man games, the DmC: Devil May Cry director's responses to fan criticism, and the ever increasingly polarized quality of Resident Evil output, things were looking bleak for the company. But fans point to the end of the Dork Age starting in early 2017, with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard being the most acclaimed game in the series in years, Monster Hunter: World released in 2018 becoming the best received, and the best selling game in the series, Mega Man 11 revitalized his own franchise, and in 2019 with the one-two smash hits back to back of Resident Evil 2 (Remake) and Devil May Cry 5 being another sign of Capcom's return to glory (the latter even had staff on Twitter themselves saying that "Capcom IS BACK!") and their Dork Age being a thing of the past for now. However their Fighting Game branch has still been very weak (as Street Fighter V and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite can both attest, though the former has managed to Win Back the Crowd after several updates and some of the latter's issues were arguably due to Executive Meddling from Marvel than Capcom alone), though Yoshinori Ono's retiring and letting new blood take over gives that branch of Capcom's fans hope.
  • In addition to some of the Dork Ages their individual series went through as detailed above under The Sims and SimCity, Maxis as a whole went through a particularly rough time after the release of their monstrously-successful SimCity 2000 from about 1994 to 1998. The only thing seemingly keeping them afloat was the heavy amount of ports and re-releases of said game, while any new product they worked on seemed like a desperate attempt to throw absolutely anything to the Sim-prefix wall and see what stuck. While some were met with at least some positive reception like SimLife and SimFarm, nothing caught on particularly well and at worst they were outright commercial failures and laughing stock for game magazines like SimCopter and Streets of SimCity. The desperation got to a point where some of the games they released under the Sim label were outright In Name Only such as SimTunes, a music-making tool that wasn't a simulation of any sort. Ultimately, the folks running the company were feeling the pains of this lack of direction and started seeking any potential acquisitions, ultimately being acquired by Electronic Arts and finally setting them back on course when they began work on the true successor to SimCity 2000, and their name would finally become a force to be reckoned with again when The Sims became their new monster franchise.

  • This can befall a franchise when moving to a new games system on their first next gen iteration while developers come to grips with the new technology. Sports games in in particular can struggle with this, due to their annual release cycles giving the developers little time to adapt to new technology. Specific examples include:
    • Madden NFL, with Electronic Arts themselves admitting that bringing the series to seventh gen was a struggle and certain issues and restructuring of features was due to the core game mechanics not translating over well.
    • NBA Live 96 was essentially just a graphic improvement over the 16 bit era, with the PC being a more Polished Port. Later games would include better graphics, gameplay and features.
    • WWE Video Games would generally have most all of the features on their first next gen game gone (this would carry over to Create-A-Wrestler mode being gutted in their off shoot Raw or Day or Reckoning games, most moves being removed, three match season mode, extremely long loading times, etc.) while the next year there would be more options, features, moves and wrestlers, with the game being far more polished.
  • The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is widely believed to have gone through a dork age between 2007 and 2008. Once a Mecca for gamers, the event was made invitation-only and attendance dropped from 60,000 down to a low of 5,000 (the event was also inexplicably renamed the "E3 Media & Business Summit" during that time with little justification other than "the video game industry is not about 'entertainment', it's about business"). As a result, E3 went from being the ultimate expo in the video games to a low-key event. It didn't help that the E for All trade show meant to replace it turned out to be a dud. Also to make things worse the announcements and game demos E3 is known for were rather lacking in comparison to previous years.
    • Many have seen E3 as having gone through another around the mid 2010s. With companies now able to make announcements at any time via events like Nintendo Direct and Sony’s State of Play, or simply by dropping a trailer on YouTube, many started to question the need for a large, annual, industry-wide conference like E3, and this resulted in both declining viewership and company participation, culminating in Sony skipping E3 2019 entirely. The conference's reputation was further damaged after 2019 when the discovery of an errant unencrypted spreadsheet file on the ESA's website revealed the personal information of all of the prior conference's attendees, including thousands of game journalists, and industry professionals. While E3 2020 was understandably cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the original idea of shifting towards being a primarily Internet influencer-based event was decried as pandering, and coupled with the departure of longtime host Geoff Keighley, many assume that dark times are ahead for E3.
    • 2021's showing has been agreed upon by many to be one of the worst E3 editions of all time, if not the worst. While the conference wasn't cancelled outright like the previous year, the still-ongoing pandemic turned the event into a series of loosely-connected live-streamed presentations. The most common complaint is that it barely showed any new games coming out, and just showed games that were already known at the point. And most of the new games shown being just cinematic trailers for games coming out next year or two (and in the case of Take Two Interactive, no game was shown at all, opting instead to present a live forum on social themes). It's generally agreed Microsoft and Nintendo were the best presentations, though they were still seen as lackluster to some and only seemed better because the rest of the other presentations were considered to be abysmal. This convinced many that E3 is on Death Row.
  • There was a time where, to save on bandwidth costs, the site for hosting custom content for Garry's Mod forced its users to download add-ons via torrents rather than getting them directly off the site. It lasted for about two months.
  • Mobile game advertising is widely considered to be in one as of 2018. The biggest blaming factor is the Dublin-based game developer Playrix, who utilises No Budget, Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket, and Very False Advertising in order to promote games such as Gardenscapes, leading to other companies also employing rampant false advertising to sell their products.

    Specific Genres 
  • The Eastern RPG (or JRPG, if you want to be specific) genre went through one from about 2007 until 2012, a time period corresponding to The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games. The Western RPG was taking off like a rocket, thanks the efforts of developers like BioWare and Bethesda Softworks, offering up fresh new stories and gameplay mechanics along with unparalleled production values. The JRPG genre, meanwhile, was largely put on the backburner at this time. For one thing, budgets were substantially reduced, thanks to Western game development largely overtaking Japanese game development in the mid-2000s. While there were a few noteworthy games released, most JRPGs at the time were criticized for having recycled plots and being too reliant on well-worn tropes like "small town boy finds himself wrapped up in a massive underground resistance movement against an evil dictator." To make matters worse, smaller companies were constantly localizing Japanese niche titles that would have little chance of appeal in the states, resulting in numerous examples of critic-audience divide (critics panned the games, while dedicated fans defended them). Tellingly, many of the most successful JRPG’s in this era were on handheld systems such as the Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable, which had high install bases in Japan and where western RPG’s never caught on like they did with consoles. This further alienated western audiences, who saw handheld gaming as the domain of shorter, simpler and/or more casual games as opposed to lengthy RPGs. The shift to handhelds occurred in large part because JRPG developers struggled to adapt to the complexities of developing for the 7th gen consoles, which were more expensive and complicated to develop for compared to prior machines.

    Fortunately, the genre rekindled much of its spark in early 2012, when the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Xenoblade Chronicles was finally released in the West on (of all consoles) the Wii, breathing some much needed new life into the then-stagnant genre. Later that year, the almost-as-well-received The Last Story was localized on the same console. Since then, a stream of critically and commercially successful JRPGs (and Western-developed JRPG-like games) had been released, such as Undertale and Bravely Default. Fire Emblem rose in popularity after the release of Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS, with Fates and Three Houses achieving similar critical and commercial success. The before mentioned Nintendo Hard Souls series, spearheaded by the insane success of Dark Souls would create such a popoular and beloved franchise, it spawned it's own sub-genre (the Souls-like RPGs), and go on to sell thirty million copies, to much critical and fan acclaim. The Monster Hunter games proved to be killer apps for the 3DS before achieving mainstream popularity in early 2018 with Monster Hunter: World. Persona 5 stole the hearts of critics and players alike and helped push the franchise from niche to borderline mainstream given how its protagonist ended up in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Long-awaited Square Enix titles like Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III were finally released (in late 2016 and early 2019 respectively) to much fanfare and generally positive reviews. And Trials of Mana at long last received a high-definition remake and English localization, while the original game, Final Fantasy Adventure, and Secret of Mana were successfully re-released on the Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest XI came out and saw unprecedented international successnote ; much like Persona 5 it was helped along when its protagonist appeared as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The Eastern RPG genre is now alive and well, happily coexisting with the Western RPG genre.
  • Western Triple-A games as a whole started falling in to this in the eyes of many gamers. The seeds of this are considered to have popped up and slowly became integrated over time, with many seeing the creation and popularization of online stores and increase ease of access to downloads for content by the mid-2000s, but the real Dork Age truly began with the popularization of season passes, DLC, and the inclusion of microtransactions in full-priced $60 games, which became popular thanks to Activision Blizzard and Overwatch starting the trend in 2016. Many western developers have also been criticized for overly inflating budgets, chasing various trends like live service models, the Battle Royale genre and Wide-Open Sandbox games while dabbling in purchasable Loot Boxes that some governments and consumer advocates have likened to simulated gambling. Many of the big western developers, like EA, Ubisoft and Activision, have even tried to state that "single-player games are dead" due to trying too hard to chase the trends of online multiplayer games with these elements, even when at a full price tag. Even amidst the ever-increasing backlash, these big developers have yet to stop because of how much money they make from gamers who struggle with impulse buying. Adding more fuel to the fire are revelations during this time period that Triple-A publishers Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard have cultivated—over the course of many years—a toxic workplace encouraging sexual harassment against female employees with full knowledge of high-end executives who believe there is nothing wrong with it. There are exceptions to this Western Triple-A Dork Age, with games like Dutch Guerrilla Games' Horizon Zero Dawn and American id Software's DOOM (2016) and DOOM Eternal winning acclaim from critics and fans, so all is not lost.
  • The Real-Time Strategy genre fell into one in the 2010's as their relatively niche fanbases made RTS games less appealing to publishers seeking to develop games in more popular genres. What is somewhat odd about this trend is that the late 2000's were a pretty good time for RTS games all things considered: Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars and Red Alert 3 both filled that classic RTS itch, Sins of a Solar Empire won wide acclaim for expanding RTS gameplay to a massive scale, and the likes of World in Conflict took the genre in a more progressive and innovative direction. Even games that were less successful, like EndWar, still clearly come from a place of experimentation and risk-taking. But come around 2010, and the RTS genre abruptly fell off a cliff. Many blame the poorly-received Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight for being a Dolled-Up Instalment that ended the Tiberium games on a sour note, but even without it the number of RTS games in active development simply dried up. The few exceptions to the genre's decline are StarCraft II (which became a competitive darling like its predecessor, but even then Activision Blizzard's accelerating profit-chasing eventually slowed support for the game to a crawl beyond continued balance updates, with the Nova Covert Ops mission pack that was intended to continue the game's single-player content beyond the campaign trillogy failing to get a successor, while Warcraft III Reforged became an infamous failure thanks to a publisher being unwilling to commit suitable resources to the project on the basis that it wouldn't turn a profit), Total War (which combines RTS tactical gameplay with a turn-based strategic map, with its regular releases becoming a PC gaming staple), and Age of Empires, which experienced a revival thanks to a very well-received HD Edition of Age of Empires II, which was so successful that it received its own Expansion Packs and led to the development of thorough and well-supported Definitive Edition versions of both II and III, with a full new game being developed alongside them). Beyond them, the RTS genre largely remains a realm of small indie projects and communities forming around appreciating and supporting classic games.


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