Abstractism was an extremely simple platform game by Russian development company Okalo Union that could pretty much be summarized as "black box jumps onto white rectangles". It probably would've completely flown under the radar if it weren't for the fact that the game was part of a scam operation:
The controversy started when someone paid $100 for a Strange Professional Killstreak Australium Rocket Launcher, a weapon for Team Fortress 2,note yes, people really do pay that much for what are little more than cosmetics in that game only for it to turn out to be an identically-named item for Abstractism. Okalo Union tried to cover their tracks by changing the item's name and appearance, but the URL for the item's market page still gave the item's true nature away.
Some game files were flagged as containing a Trojan horse virus. Okalo Union defended themselves by saying that these files were needed for item drops, even though other games with item drops didn't raise similar warnings.
The mere fact that Abstractism had in-game items that could be traded over the Steam Market was suspicious in and of itself, since the items had no in-game use and the drop system encouraged players to leave the game running at all times (including the devs' insistence that the game be running at a specific time on Fridays so the player's drop limits could be reset, even though other games don't need to be running for the drops to be reset). This, coupled with the game's unusually high memory usage and antivirus alerts, revealed that the game was actually mining cryptocurrencies and the Trojan virus was sending the coins to the devs each Friday.
Fortunately, Valve took quick action against Okalo Union, by implementing a new feature that warns players before accepting market trades for items for games they never played, deleting Abstractism from Steam, and requiring approval to change the name and icon of a game (some other games that used a similar trick changed their names and icons to that of popular Valve games to make their fake items more convincing). The fraudulent item trades were also reversed.
Action 52 is more well known for the over-the-top ambitions of developer Active Enterprises, its Troubled Production, and its reputation as one of the worst games of all time than the fact that it's a game at all.
BioWare's Anthem was already considered to be a disappointing game at launch, but soon after it launched, it was revealed in a Kotaku article by Jason Schreier that the game had undergone a Troubled Production that consisted of years of mismanagement, and its workers were crunched to the point of having mental breakdowns. Not helping was that BioWare's response was to call their workplace environment and work ethic "BioWare Magic", a statement that drew ire, mockery, and heavy criticism from pundits, audiences, and journalists alike. Anthem's failure and the scrutiny over the production of the game, coupled with the underperformance of Mass Effect: Andromeda, has essentially tanked the reputation of the once-beloved BioWare. Attempts to revamp the game were abandoned in early 2021, effectively ending intended franchise plans out of the gate.
Battleborn suffered due to how Gearbox Software horribly mishandled their prior work Aliens: Colonial Marines — which suffered from Development Hell and a horrible case of Never Trust a Trailer — and tried to suicidally compete with Overwatch. The Colonial Marines fiasco gave Battleborn the same negative reputation, which ended up overshadowing the marketing. Not helping matters was that Battleborn's marketing and release schedule turned the game into a competitor with Overwatch, which was released a few weeks later. Unfortunately for Battleborn, Overwatch had industry juggernaut Blizzard behind it and went on to become a smash hit, completely stealing Battleborn's thunder and reducing its playercount to double digits in just a few months, leading to the announcement that the game would be shutting down its servers in January 2021 and being delisted from all storefronts, rendering it completely unplayable. Because of these factors, Battleborn is seen as a cautionary tale on how the negative reputation of one game can carry on to another, and how explicitly trying to compete with another game can backfire.
Battlefield V: The initial marketing left a bad first impression by showing how the game deviated from the semi-realism of previous entries. The reveal trailer, in particular, showcased exaggerated character customization options that lets players create soldiers of any gender and color, wield samurai swords and cricket bats, and wear exotic facepaint in a World War II setting. This resulted in a huge outcry from the fanbase. In response to the backlash, an EA executive criticized detractors by daring those who didn't like the direction to not buy the game, which lead to the game underperforming in pre-orders and launch sales. The actual game itself had gameplay problems like Game-Breaking Bugs, the absence of advertised content at launch like the battle royale mode and vehicle customization, and a live service that didn't offer consistent updates, which meant that the game didn't have any good gameplay to distract anyone from the identity politics discourse. Nowadays, most conversations around the game almost inevitably revolve around the reaction to the reveal trailer, the bizarre push for female and POC fighters in places where they weren't allowed to fight in real life WWII, and EA's response to the reaction.
Blizzard Entertainment has seen its reputation plummet after its merge with Activision in 2008 for several incidents. The Blitzchung controversy is the most infamous one, where they banned the e-sports player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung and stripped him of his winnings, for voicing support for the 2019-20 Hong Kong protests during an official interview. Other times they angered their userbase include their responses to massive fan disappointment in regards to Diablo Immortal and Warcraft III: Reforged, as well as laying off approximately 800 employees while simultaneously announcing record revenue for 2018.
At one point, it was very difficult to talk about Bully without addressing the controversy of it being a boarding school game being developed by Rockstar Games, the same company behind the Grand Theft Auto series. Many youth groups protested the game, believing it was intended to promote bullying, and regular anti-Rockstar lawyer Jack Thompson labelled the game as a "Columbine simulator". The controversy died down more or less when it was revealed that the game is actually about stopping the bullying in the school, and that the game has no deaths or blood. Even so, the game had its name changed to Canis Canem Edit — Dog Eat Dog in Latin — for its release in certain countries, most notably its native UK.
Bombergirl was Konami's second major Bomberman game and the first major one to hit the arcades since Neo Bomberman in 1997. Unfortunately, its announcement got into some serious controversy due to its "Ecchi" nature, with◊ unflattering◊ anime girl fetish◊ designs being the game's most marketed aspect. Fans and gaming news sites in the west had their Bombs and Pitchforks out immediately—many were offended that Konami was reviving the franchise with what appeared to be an H-Game, especially since the infamousCastlevania Erotic Violence debacle was still fresh in everyone's minds, with a few even going as far as joking that it was basically Bomberman x Dead or Alive. Fans tore it apart for violating the series' historically chaste and cartoony nature for the sake of otaku-pandering while wondering who at Konami would think that fans would take this lightly. The game ended being written off as yet another example of Konami's current status as a money-grubbing company that used to make good games. When the game's PC port was released in 2021, the controversy got much, much worse as Western Bomberman fans were finally able to (thanks to some people on 4chan no less) play the game, only to discover that not only was Honey, Hudson's old mascot character, included in the game, but the playable girls also suffered from Clothing Damage when they get hit (complete with NSFW-esque images). This enraged the western fandom—the return of Honey in a "fanservice" game after being Put on a Bus for two decades was interpreted as an insult to Hudson Soft and the "sexy" aspects (on top of being out of place in a Bomberman game) bordered on squick for some people. Some fans even went as far as apologizing to Act:Zero for bashing it, noting that it could have been worse. All this wound up overshadowing the actual gameplaynote basically Bomberman meets base defense as well as the various mythology gags (including a reference to the fan favorite Second Attack). While the vitriol did cool down slightly, it's still very difficult to talk about this game in the West without bringing up the controversial premise, especially since most fans won't even touch the game as a result.
Call of Duty: Modern WarfareRemastered was released at launch as an exclusive bundle with Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare, which was generally disliked by much of the community. Activision then added gameplay-altering microtransactions to the game and resold old maps from the original Modern Warfare as a DLC pack with its price bumped up from $10 to $15. These actions infuriated many fans given how publishers have traditionally released remastered games as standalone and complete titles out of goodwill. Then, when they finally released it as a standalone game, they released it at $40 - twice what it technically cost as a bonus for the Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare. Nowadays, when most fans talk about the Modern Warfare series, they're more likely to bring up the fact its publisher released a remaster of a decade-old fan-favorite game only to hold it for ransom and added pay-to-win elements.
Call of Duty: WWII has been Vindicated by History (to an extent) among Call of Duty players after its follow-up Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 went way too far with its monetization, but otherwise it's known for being the game that Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill had an online dispute over the loss of a $1.50 wager, eventually culminating in the 2017 Wichita Swatting and the death of an uninvolved man, Andrew Finch, in a case of extreme Disproportionate Retribution and gaming toxicity. During the dispute, Gaskill was threatened with swatting and in response, intentionally gave Viner the address to the house he'd previously lived in, but where Finch now lived. Viner then recruited a third man, Tyler Barriss, to call the Wichita police using voice over IP and trick them into believing the residence was home to a dangerous criminal. The result was Finch being fatally shot when he paused while putting his hands up out of confusion. Barriss eventually pled guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, while Viner was sentenced to 2 years' community service and Gaskill sentenced to 2 years' probation. By 2017, the belief that video games are Murder Simulators had largely fallen out of favour, and Barriss was found to have already been a serial swatter for years before Finch's death, so the game itself was not blamed for the swatting, but the incident is still used as an example of toxic gamers taking things too far.
CarnEvil is considered a classic of the rail shooter genre, but it's also well known for the fact that one of the bosses in the game is a twenty-foot-tall undead baby. Aware of the possible backlash of shooting a giant dead baby to pieces, the developers included a switch that would change the boss to a teddy bear, but that wasn't enough to stop it from seeing numerous bans from arcades nationwide.
It is difficult to discuss the game without covering the allegations of Eurocentrism and Creator Provincialism surrounding it. Its stable of playable empires was the most European-dominated since the first game, and included several European and European colonial civilizations not typically in the base game, most notably Brazil. There were no pre-Colonial empires from the Americas included in the game at launch, save for the Aztecs (included in the base game for every installment until this one), who were a pre-order bonus and only released for everyone ninety days later. The first two DLC civilizations were Poland and (post-colonial) Australia, which along with Brazil comprise three of the biggest overseas markets for the series, leading to allegations of putting profits before sense on the part of the developers. The sole Sub-Saharan African empire in the game at launch, Kongo, has an ability that defines it by how other civilizations affect it, is the only one to be locked out of a victory condition (Religious), and both it and India are described rather condescendingly in their respective Civilopedia entries. Finally, Alexander the Great was given his own playable empire, Macedon, independent from Greece (which he usually leads), while non-European series standbys such as the Inca, the Mongols, and the Zulu have yet to appear.
To a lesser, but still noticeable extent, the use of more female leaders than any game before (such as the replacement of Ensemble Dark Horse Napoleon with Queen Catherine de' Medici [who was Italian by birth] as the leader of France, or the choice to use Gorgo as the representative of Sparta over her vastly more well-known husband, Leonidas) has resulted in a lot of negative backlash based on accusations of political correctness. This in turn led to accusations that the detractors were being sexist, which naturally dragged in some places into flame wars from which neither side came out looking civilized.
Club Penguin Online, a recreation of Club Penguin, became infamous among Club Penguin fans following a data breach leaking account information, having "mature" servers full of inappropriate content (with no measures to prevent children from actually entering the servers), evidence of a mod being a pedophile, and owners of the site blocking anybody who mentioned these issues or their biggest competitor, Club Penguin Rewritten. The server shut down by the end of May 2020 after a cease and desist from Disney over the inappropriate content, and the arrest of one member (suspected to be the aforementioned mod) for possessing images of child abuse.
Cooking Mama Cookstar could have been the modern take on the series fans were looking for, but it became overshadowed by the Troubled Production that came about from publisher Planet Entertainment releasing the game and advertising a PS4 version without license holder Office Create's permission despite the latter finding the game itself to be of subpar quality and never approving of said PS4 port. This ended up getting the game delisted from the Nintendo eShop mere days after release, and the few who did get their hands on it found it to be worse than earlier entries and made their Switches overheat. Nowadays, people will rarely ever talk about the quality itself (or lack thereof), and instead discuss the bizarre legal dispute around its release that doomed it to being extremely rare, along with the rumors that it was used to illegally mine bitcoin.
While Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is widely regarded as a great remake of Crash Team Racing, it's hard to talk about the game without bringing up the infamous microtransactions, which were added in by Activision a month after the game's launch. These were used as a paid alternative for getting the game's currency, Wumpa Coins, which can also be earned by completing races and can be used to unlock characters and custom skins. Fans were, understandably, not happy with this change, especially since the original game, which came out over 20 years ago, didn't have microtransactions. It also didn't help that the prices for the characters and parts have increased tenfold from their pre-microtransaction prices once the update came out, making the process of getting Wumpa Coins either an unnecessary grindfest or a pay-to-win situation. During its first month, the game drew praise from both players and critics for having no microtransactions, but their addition a mere one month after launch was a strong indication that Activision had planned their inclusion all along, and had deliberately withheld them at launch only to avoid bad publicity from the press and persuade more people to buy the game. While this backlash slowly died down with the game receiving new updates and DLC, microtransactions still remain a divisive part of an otherwise great remake of a beloved kart-racer.
Custer's Revenge, released on the Atari 2600 in 1982, is notorious for its grossly offensive premise where the player accumulates points by raping a Native American woman tied to a cactus while dodging arrow fire. Even being sold in a sealed package with the label "NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS" with a dissuading $49.95 price tag (equivalent to around $135.40 in 2021) did nothing to help its reputation. Expect people to talk more about how messed up it is than about the (extremely repetitive and boring) gameplay.
Day One: Garry's Incident was widely considered awful on its own merits, but it wouldn't have gotten nearly as much negative press if not for the developers attempting to strike down Totalbiscuit's scathingly negative review. This quickly backfired on them, and likely contributed to its record low Metacritic userscore of 0.4, which it held until the Warcraft 3: Reforged review bombing.
The MMO Third-person shooter Defiance is only remembered for being a tie-in game to a TV show of the same name whose producers believed was going to be the next big franchise, for the promises that the game would affect the storyline of the TV show, for releasing broken and incomplete and for the firing and replacing of its development team.
Depression Quest is a small independent text-based game focused on helping the player character deal with her severe depression, based on the real-life experiences of creator Zoe Quinn. But you probably don't remember that. You do probably remember the fact that it single-handedly sparked Gamergate, a huge culture war that dominated online discourse throughout 2014 and 2015 after an ex-boyfriend of Quinn's, as part of a wider accusation of toxic and manipulative behavior on her part, claimed that she'd had an affair with a critic who gave positive coverage to the game. The online backlash that resulted from this claim — which birthed a huge rift in the gaming community and journalism — led to a massive debate about sexism, gender roles, diversity, and journalistic integrity in the gaming industry and subculture, the ramifications of which are still being felt to this day. The lingering hot-button nature of this incident still seeps into wider pop culture and American politics, and both Depression Quest and Quinn herself continue to see the debate loom over discussions of them.
Starting late 2017, Destiny 2 kept getting caught in underhanded tactics such as covertly throttling player experience gains, issues with the Eververse, removing an armor said to resemble a symbol of the alt-right and Bungie's continued PR disasters. The player count steadily dwindled, while those on the outside who never played the game became more interested in the controversy than the game itself. Fortunately, the game has been able to distance itself from this reputation starting in late 2018 with several well-received changes and the launch of the Forsaken expansion.
Devotion, a horror game by Taiwanese developers Red Candle Games, received massively positive reviews at launch... until it was discovered that the game contained an image of a Fulu talisman (a ritual object roughly analogous to a voodoo doll) with the text "Xi JinpingWinnie-the-Pooh Moron" on it, supposedly a placeholder asset that Red Candle forgot to remove. Winnie the Pooh is used as a mocking nickname for Chinese president Xi Jinping, and political speech critical of the Chinese government is a big deal over there, so its presence led to intense negative review-bombing from Chinese players and the game ultimately being pulled from Steam. This incident is now better-known than the game itself. In 2021, the game became available again through Red Candle Games' new e-store, but is still Banned in China, whose government remains unforgiving despite the provocative text having long been patched out.
Although it has ultimately managed to escape this reputation, for a period in the late '90s and early '00s, Doom was inexorably linked to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre who were huge fans of the game. There were even rumors that they rehearsed the massacre by means of a modded Doom map in the shape of the school's floor plan.note Harris and Klebold really did make Doom mods. But a Doom map shaped like Columbine High School created by the two killers has never been found, if it ever existed at all. It is also dubious because the shooting spree was not their actual plan; they had intended to bomb the school. The shooting was what they resorted to when their bombs failed to go off. Over the years, the supposed link between violent video games and real violence has been increasingly debunked, advocates of the existence of the link are now largely seen as being behind-the-times, and Doom has been recognized as a classic of the First-Person Shooter genre and spawned an acclaimed franchise that continues to this day.
Much uproar arose when Kenji Yamamoto's soundtrack for the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series was replaced for the HD re-release following the discovery of plagiarism in his songs by Toei and Namco Bandai. A Broken Base has emerged as to whether or not Yamamoto was in the wrong, despite the borrowed melodies appearing to be unauthorized.
The Atari 2600 game Dragster was a short, decent game by Activision, the system's biggest third party. It is almost entirely remembered for a 5.51 score being the most infamous of Todd Rogers's now-banned, decades-old records, being the most infamous impossible score among his highly suspect scores.
Duke Nukem Forever is known primarily for two things. Firstly, being delayed for over a decade, to the point where some people called it "Duke Nukem Forever In Development" or similar nicknames. But when the game did finally come out, controversy arose when it was found to contain very outdated attitudes toward race and gender, much of which was considered extreme even by the series' standards. This included a "capture the flag"-style multiplayer mode based around abducting women, something which probably would've been considered very extreme even back in The '90s.
The Epic Games Store launched in late 2018 as a competitor to Steam with the distinction of giving a larger revenue cut to developers selling their games on the service.note Upon launch, Epic Games gave its developers an 88 percent cut of the profits when their game was sold, whereas Steam gave only 70 percent of the profits. However, the storefront quickly became more known for the controversies surrounding the early stages of its life:
At launch, the store and platform were woefully incomplete, lacking several crucial features that Steam and other platforms had for years, including cloud saves, achievements, a shopping cart in the online store (which is a practically universal feature in online storefronts), and - perhaps most damningly - the ability for actual users to review games, which was ostensibly to curb the possibility of review-bombing over minor issues, but which was seen as too extreme a response (denying an avenue for users to warn one another about unfinished or microtransaction-heavy games) and ill-timed (coming at a point where the entire concept of professional review platforms and games journalism was coming under fire). Epic announced that it had plans to add some of these features, but many still felt that the pace of this "road map" (as Epic described it) was painfully slow.
Epic signing many exclusivity deals with various games, including those that had already promised a Steam release to its customers, was what really set off the controversy. The deals gave developers an up-front payment, regardless of how well the games ended up selling, in return for making the games only available on the Epic Games Store for the first six to twelve months after they come out. This made the PC gaming community, which values consumer choice very highly, extremely angry, accusing Epic of using its vast profits from Fortnite to buy its store an artificial advantage instead of competing with things like compelling prices and features, which benefit customers instead of just companies. This worsened on two separate occasions: once when, in light of summer and the promises of discounts akin to Steam's famous seasonal sales came about, several developers instead outright removed their games from EGS for a few weeks just so they wouldn't be sold at a discount (playing right into the most common criticism that the exclusivity deals were simply to maximize profit by any means), and then again when the developer of indie horror-puzzle game DARQ claimed that Epic was starting to outright blackmail indie developers by threatening to pull their games from the store if they ever sell on Steam, even after the exclusivity deal is up.
Erika to Satoru no Yume Bouken is an obscure Japan-exclusive Famicom game. The only reason it is remembered today, even in its home country, is a hidden message where a developer gives a long, angry rant to his colleagues.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is mostly associated with its reputation as "the worst video game of all time", being the Trope Codifier for The Problem with Licensed Games, and for its contribution to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 to the extent that it is frequently Mis-blamed as being single-handedly responsible for the crash (it was not; the video game market was saturated with poor-quality titles in the early 1980's, and E.T. was merely the breaking point). Atari, the dominant gaming company at the time, gave programmer Howard Scott Warshaw an impossibly tight schedule to develop the game from start to finish in just six weeksfor a Christmas release (most video games back then still took three to six months to develop from scratch). The result was a tedious, repetitive, unenjoyable mess, and Atari's reckless assumption that the game would be a massive hit from the success of the Spielbergmovie led to them producing over four million copies, of which only about one and a half million were sold and most of those were returned for a refund. The disappointing releaseexacerbated by the Atari 2600 Porting Disaster of Pac-Man earlier that same yearresulted in Atari losing its reputation, and the rest is history. While the game has been somewhat Vindicated by History from the 2000's onward, with people coming forward to argue that Warshaw did a pretty good job with what little time he had (the game is surprisingly Game-Breaking Bug-free) and that the game is more "extremely disappointing" than "worst video game ever made", any discussion about E.T. is still almost guaranteed to mention its contribution to the 1983 Video Game Crash.
The iOS game Fantasy Night of TouHou Project is mostly remembered for being one of the first Touhou Project derivative works to go against ZUN's content distribution guidelines, as well as for using fanart and assets from the official games (mainly Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night) without permission. ZUN had it removed from the App Store for a time, but it later returned to the iTunes store as a free app. It has since been removed again.
Fallout 76 is often considered the game that nearly ruined Bethesda's reputation, due to being surrounded by controversy even before its disastrous launch. From changes that ignored the established lore (like in-universe factions somehow existing centuries before they're supposed to), to being released in a near-unplayable state with a lot of broken promises (sixteen times the [graphical] details!) and poor design choices. Add to that a falsely advertised $150 Deluxe Edition that promised a canvas bag among its Feelies, but instead delivered a cheap nylon bag, without telling buyers that the product was being changed (which led to a whole other controversy itself), and the developers putting more focus on expanding monetization features rather than fixing the game's legions of bugs itself (the Fallout 1st membership being the biggest example), with patches that added more overpriced in-game store items yet continued to break the already-pretty-shaky game by restoring already patched bugs and glitches, and you have one of the most controversial games of 2018 and 2019.
Far Cry 5 saw a good deal of turbulent publicity in the time prior to its release thanks to its use of Christian fundamentalists and extreme American conservatives as its villains, owing to the game coming out amidst resurgent liberal-conservative tensions in the U.S. (which wasn't helped by the game not taking any hard stances on contemporary political issues, meaning it fell in the awkward spot of being too political for people who wanted escapism from the news, but not political enough for people who did want political commentary in their games) Once the game was actually released, however, that controversy was swallowed up by one still larger, namely the game's overwhelmingly panned endings, in which either the player leaves the Big Bad, Joseph Seed, alive, only to later reveal that the player character was brainwashed during the story, leading to them murdering their fellow Deputies in a mad rage; or the player arrests him, at which point he is proven correct in his delusions of a nuclear apocalypse, with nuclear bombs destroying the world as we know it for no real defined reason. As result, many who have played the game told those who hadn't to not bother with it at all, resulting in a noticeable sales drop from its very popular predecessor. Eventually, a sequel, Far Cry: New Dawn, was released that rectified the ending of 5 by finally allowing players to deal with Joseph. Additionally, although its too early to determine if this is really the case, the next game seems to be retconning the previous entry entirely.
While the indie game Fez is widely regarded as a great game by those who have played it, it has become more well-known for the now-infamous online outbursts of its creator Phil Fish, particularly the outburst that caused him to announce that he was leaving the gaming industry and cancelling work on a sequel.
The general hype surrounding the release of Fire Emblem Fates has been very hard to come across in light of the massive uproar surrounding its localization. Much of the anger is directed towards the removal of Skinship (a mechanic for support conversations in which players can use the touch screen to stroke the faces of their partner), the exclusion of an optional Japanese vocal track due to copyrights, and shoehorning memes into the game's dialogue. Even before the game's Western release, the Japanese version came under heavy fire for its portrayal of Soleil, a bisexual character whose support conversations supposedly endorse Slipping a Mickey and Cure Your Gaysnote Which is only partially true and lacking in context: Soleil finds that her attraction towards girls is harming her, since she faints whenever she sees cute girls, and she voluntarily seeks help with that. One of the Avatar's plans to help her does involve putting mind-altering "magic powder" in her drink without her consent, making her perceive everyone as the opposite sex, but she is immediately informed about the powder once it starts taking effect, all the Avatar does with Soleil while she is hallucinating is talk to her, and she consents to future uses of the powder. Granted, the end result is still a bisexual woman whose attraction to women is treated as a joke and a problem, and who can only have serious relationships with men; the English localization downplayed this as much as possible (her true romantic options are reduced to male!Corrin and Forrest, with Soleil platonically partnering up with everyone else) and rewrote her S Support with male!Corrin to completely remove the roofie imagery, and there was even a petition to cancel the game's localization. All in all, online discussions on the merits of the game's localization heavily outweigh discussions on the game itself, with detractors of Fates citing it as a microcosm of what they see as a Dork Age for Nintendo of America. It's worth noting that the game sold well despite this; however, this almost certainly had as much to do with publicity as it did with the games' distribution method.
MECC, the creators of The Oregon Trail, developed and published Freedom!, a game for the Apple ][, in which the player would assume the role of a runaway slave trying to reach North through the Underground Railroad, in a manner similar to that of The Oregon Trail, while gaining the ability of literacy and the ability to swim. The game was meant to be used in a school curriculum when it was released in late 1992, but most schools simply released the game to students to play without prior lessons. This led to numerous parents complaining to MECC and their schools on what they considered the racially offensive nature of the game, and threatened to sue MECC. Though MECC offered to make changes to alleviate these concerns, the company ultimately pulled the game from sale.
G2A.com is a website where people can buy and sell unredeemed Steam game keys, usually at a much lower price than usual, which has been embroiled in controversy following accusations of fraud and incompetence:
Despite billing itself as a reliable source for reselling game keys, the company's lack of oversight has turned it into a quasi-black market. The absence of any authentication means that many of the keys sold on G2A were originally pirated or purchased using stolen credit cards, forcing developers to shoulder the burden of refunding customers. The company's impact has become so detrimental that many indie developers would rather see their games be pirated rather than purchased through G2A. The site still manages to attract many customers thanks to its low prices, but in most gaming communities, mentioning that you bought a game on G2A is practically begging for people to call you out.
G2A is also infamous for its many poorly-disclosed extra fees. Many people have reported buying a few games on the site, only to be charged some monthly fees later on without knowing how to cancel them, or being flat-out unable to cancel due to accidentally locking themselves out of their account. Specific examples include G2A Shield, a premium subscription providing faster customer support if you buy a non-functional key, which is easy to accidentally subscribe to and was notoriously tricky to cancel, and an inactivity fee deducted from your site funds if you spend too long without logging in (supposedly to cover the costs of keeping your account on their servers, even though the 1 per month they charge is several orders of magnitude more than it would cost to just keep the inactive account in their database).
Gacha Life would've remained a relatively standard, if popular Virtual Paper Doll game if not for the fact that many of its (mostly underage) users have been discovered making softcore pornographic content (which often gained millions of views on YouTube from other minors) using the game's Studio function. As such, almost all discussion of the game focuses on the inappropriate content its users generate rather than any of its actual merits. It got to the point where Lunime, the game's development team, issued an update removing certain props from the game in order to curb the issue.
The Gizmondo was the second-worst selling game console of all time. However, just as notorious as the reasons for its failure is the fact that its manufacturer, Tiger Telematics, had links to Swedish organized crime groups.
San Andreas, while being one of the best selling games of all time, is also the most infamous of the series, being the Trope Namer for the Hot Coffee Minigame. When hackers managed to unearth the Dummied Out Hot Coffee minigame files from the game and published them online, it caused outrage among Moral Guardians, resulting in Rockstar Games being entangled in several lawsuits and forcing them to re-release the game with all traces of the minigame deleted. Some commented on the irony that, of all the terrible things GTA protagonists have done, what drew the most ire was one of them having consensual sex.
Grand Theft Auto V is among one of the best selling games ever, but is primarily remembered for an infamous interrogation scene where the player must control Trevor as he brutally tortures a man for information about a suspected terrorist. The scene was intended to be a political commentary on the use of "enhanced interrogation" by intelligence agencies, but many called hypocrisy due to the gratuitious violence and overly disturbing nature.
Guild Wars 2 is a well-respected Massively Multiplayer Action RPG, but for those who don't play MMOs, they will recognize it thanks to the incident that started when writer Jessica Price started a fight on Twitter with various followers and a company-sponsored streamer known as Deroir after he politely wanted to refute her claims that writing for MMO player characters was harder than in a standard RPG. When the conversation spiraled out of control, writer Peter Fries chimed in and attempted to defend her and her aggressive responses, only leading to more debate and fighting. Eventually, the controversy was heard by ArenaNet CEO Mike O'Brien who immediately fired both of them with him claiming that they had violated company policy regarding how to communicate with fans. This led to Jessica denouncing her firing by claiming that her firing set a precedent that if Reddit wanted a female developer fired, companies would comply, thus making the industry more female-hostile that it already is currently.
The Guy Game is an obscure erotic video game that rewards you for completing various puzzles with FMV clips of girls taking their clothes off. Even among porn games, it would likely not have been a blip on the radar... if it didn't hold the dubious honor of being the one and only game to receive a nationwide ban in the United States, after it was discovered that one of the aforementioned girls was underage at the time the clip was filmed, leading the game to be declared child pornography and ergo not protected by the First Amendment. The controversy led to its publisher, Topheavy Gaming, falling apart just a few years after its release.
Hatred is notorious for having a premise about massacring innocent people, the controversy its trailer caused, the major outrage that occurred when Valve attempted to pull the game off of Steam, and one of the lead developers being discovered to have "liked" the Facebook page of a alt-right group. This has all vastly overshadowed the actual gameplay merits.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft had its esports scene overshadowed by the Blitzchung ban. During an October 2019 qualifier tournament, player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai made a public call to liberate his native Hong Kong in light of China's harsh crackdown of protestors. In response, Blizzard Entertainment banned "Blitzchung" for the season and took away his winnings. Needless to say, many angrily accused Blizzard of censoring Blitzchung to appease both the Chinese government (who had censored support for the Hong Kong protests) and the Chinese company NetEase (who is a partial owner of parent company Activision-Blizzard) out of fear that their games would become Banned in China otherwise. Not helping matters is how Blizzard had previously given lighter punishments for Overwatch League players who made racist gestures and comments on-camera, leading to allegations of a Double Standard. The outcry and legal implications lead to US congressmen of both parties penning an open letter urging the company to reverse the ban. Even going into June 2020, the Blitzchung incident still lingers with many criticizing Activision-Blizzard's apparent solidarity with the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movement as hollow and hypocritical (especially since their justification for the ban was due to prohibitinganydiscussion of political topics during official events). Ironically, all of the reporting on the controversy ensured that way more people could hear Blitzchung's message, inspiring many (including people who didn't care about Hearthstone in the first place and would not have heard of Blitzchung otherwise) to adopt anti-China and pro-Hong Kong sentiments.
Hunt Down the Freeman, a commercially released mod for Half-Life 2, which, while still criticized for the broken and incomplete state it was released in, is likely more well-known for the large amount of stolen assets, Royal Rudius Entertainment taking to banning critics of the game from discussions, and the rumors that the game passed Steam Greenlight due to the developer using bots rather than the gameplay or story.
Jimi-Kare, an otherwise ordinary and completely family-friendly Free-to-Play otome-focused mobile game, is mostly known for its Bad Ending where it is heavily implied that Haru (the male lead) sexually assaults the player character.
Kakuto Chojin was a 2002 fighting game for Xbox developed by Dream Publishing, which got negative reviews due to its weak Story Mode and shallow gameplay, and because it was a ripoff of Tekken.note Coincidentally, its developers were indeed former Tekken members. But that's not all: within months of release, the game was pulled from the store shelves not because it was a Tekken rip-off, but because of the main protagonist Asad, whose theme of Islamic religion and chants of the Quran versesnote The same chants that were present in early editions of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and removed in later ones and ethnicity were widely considered to be insensitive due to the game being released over a year after 9/11. Although Asad's theme was modified to tone down the insensitivity, many copies of the game still made it to retailers in their uncensored format and eventually shipped to Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, where violent protests erupted against the game for Asad's theme that finally did the game in when it was pulled from worldwide stores.
The Kane & Lynch games are chiefly remembered for the controversy over Jeff Gerstmann (later of Giant Bomb) being fired from GameSpot for giving the first game, Dead Men, a 6 out of 10 review score despite its very heavy advertising on the site.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would be better known for its financial shenanigans that shuttered developer 38 Studios, bankrupted former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling (who was the then-head of the studio) and derailed the political career of Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chaffee. Despite selling 1 million copies, the Kingdoms of Amalur was deemed a financial failure as it had to sell 3 million just to break even. As for why the game had an inflated budget, much of it could be chalked to the Rhode Island government giving Schilling a $75 million loan in exchange for relocating 38 Studio to the state despite the studio never having released a single title. Despite hopes of recuperating losses with sequels and an upcoming MMO, all employees of 38 Studios were laid off, future installments were cancelled and Schilling was forced to sell his entire fortune from his baseball career. The game's failure also ended governor Chaffee's reelection prospects with many blaming him for the job losses despite his original opposition to the loan.
King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human was known for being very deviant compared to the first two games when it was first released. Instead of Graham, you play the (allegedly) unrelated Gwydion, a slave to the sorcerer Manannan, causing a controversy in which many longtime fans outright refused to play the game. (Until they learned that Gwydion is really Prince Alexander, son of King Graham, so there really was a connection all along). The game was also much Darker and Edgier compared to the first two, and has Gwydion dabbling with black magic spells, upsetting some family and Christian groups, since the anti-Satanism moral panic was still ongoing at the time of the game's release. Some feminists were also angered at the game when they noted that the main plot involved Gwydion, after the revelation that he was a prince, saving his sister Rosella from a dragon, which they claimed was the game suggesting that "boys go on adventures, girls get to be damsels in distress". It was because of these controversies that the fourth game became what it is: Graham's family is introduced at the start; the standard fairytale tropes made a return; and Rosella became the playable protagonist. Thankfully, the game was eventually Vindicated by History, with its Darker and Edgier plotline paving the way for more intricate plotlines not just in adventure games, but video games as a whole.
Once considered one of the most iconic and praiseworthy developers in the Japanese game industry, Konami saw their reputation rapidly spiral downward since 2015 after multiple high-profile controversies that resulted in widespread disdain for their actions. Firstly, the company had a heated falling-out with Hideo Kojima that resulted in the cancellation of Silent Hills, Kojima's name being removed from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima being banned from attending that year's Game Awards despite The Phantom Pain winning two awards (Kiefer Sutherland accepted the awards on Kojima's behalf, and proceeded to slam Konami for their treatment of him), and Kojima himself walking out once his contract expired. Secondly, Konami underwent a change in management that resulted in the company shifting focus away from console game development in favor of mobile game development and creating pachinko machines based on their IPs, with the marketing for it being roundly criticized for giving the illusion of presenting new video game titles. Finally, the company saw massive backlash from fans following the announcement and release of Metal Gear Survive, which was widely disparaged from the first trailer in 2016 alone for shifting focus to a generic "zombie apocalypse"-themed survival game direction. The combination of all of this led Jim Sterling to create the hashtag #FucKonami as a way of expressing fan frustration in what the company had become. Ironically, Konami has been doing well in areas outside video games (and Japan's video game division, apparently moving on from the scandal and getting well-received native No Export for You games as a result), and some fans still realize that they might be just entering a big Dork Age, acknowledging their past achievements and still being glad that they chose to focus more on re-releasing their old games (and lately letting indie developers help develop their IP's) rather than fanning the flames further by making even more controversies like several other companies. However, the big debacle above still lingers above them, showing that they still have a LONG way to go to regain trust, with more forgiving fans noting how difficult it is to speak fondly of Konami's old days or even giving an expression of wishing to see them redeem themselves modestly without having a frustrated fan bring up the controversy and steering the discussion back to negativity (or worse: Being accused to be bribed by Konami). All in all, it seems more apparent that the controversy is more undying in the West.
LawBreakers was Cliff Bleszinski's passion project and an attempt to create a new game that would epitomize skill-based gameplay. However, the game suffered due to oversaturation in the Hero Shooter genre and a stubborn refusal to allow it to go free-to-play to gain more players in the crowded market. As a result, the game quickly lost all of its players as Blezinski was forced to close down Boss Key Studios and the game's servers were shut down on September 14, 2018.
While it has since been Vindicated by History and is widely considered one of the more beloved entries in the series, it's still hard to discuss The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker without mentioning the tremendous and still-unmatched fan backlash that ensued in the West over its light-hearted cartoon art style, which heavily clashed with the increasingly mature, realistic-looking direction that the video game industry as a whole was taking at the time. This wasn't helped by the game's reveal being preceded a year prior by a GameCube tech demo showing a more Ocarina of Time-esque art style, which Western fans had instantly taken to. The backlash was so big that Nintendo scrapped plans for a direct Wind Waker sequel in favor of the grittier, Real Is BrownThe Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess out of concern that they may have inadvertently created a Franchise Killer, as the Zelda games are generally more popular in the West than in Japan, making Western opinions very important. Later "Toon Link" games would be relegated mostly to handheld titles and spinoffs (one of which, incidentally, wound up being a Wind Wakersequel), and to this day, the Zelda fanbase still struggles with shaking off the embarrassing stain of the Wind Waker backlash.
Lethal Enforcers was known for its realistic graphics and violent content, leading to Moral Guardians to question the game. However, it's not as extreme as the controversies over other games released around the time, such as Mortal Kombat and Doom.
The Manhunt series is best known for its premise of being about a convict being forced to take part in snuff films (the gameplay was mostly stealth based, with elements of Survival Horror). The first game was given mixed reviews, with some marking it down for the gorn and others praising it for its atmosphere, the sequel received average reviews across the board and the series was mostly forgotten. The franchise is also overshadowed by claims that the first game inspired a series of killings in the UK which led to it being temporarily pulled from several chains (claims which were ultimately proven unfounded); while the sequel was actually banned outright in several countries, unlike the first game.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite could almost be seen as a step-by-step set of instructions on how not to release a video game. When it was first announced it generated massive hype, not just for being the first installment in the wildly popular Marvel vs. Capcom series in six years, but because the announcement trailer featured fan-favorite Mega Man X. However, a number of controversies damaged the game's reputation until it was mostly forgotten:
The game was clearly intended to ride on the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ended up suffering greatly for it: the more realistic art style caused several Capcom characters (most prominently Chun-Li, Morrigan, and Dante, who all reused their more cartoony MvC3 models) to fall hard into the Uncanny Valley, the iconic character themes from past games were replaced with generic movie-style music, and, most damning of all, the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters were cut entirely from the roster due to Marvel CEO Ike Purlmetter's infamous petty feud with 20th Century Fox over the film rights over the aforementioned characters.note Fans weren't too happy with Capcom's side of the roster either, both for bringing back a number of less-popular characters like the "my arm is my wife" version of Spencer and Firebrand, while characters they wanted to see like Rashid and Asura were nowhere to be found.
Things only got worse when an infamous pre-release interview came out where community manager Pete "Combofiend" Rosas breezily dismissed the absence of any X-Men characters by saying, "If you were to actually think about it, these characters are just functions". He claims during the interview that fans only cared about how characters fight, not who they are, and that a character's moves are why people choose characters to play in fighting games, not their looks or backstorynote He stated that fan-favorite Magneto has his status because of his eight way air dash and his speed, saying that other characters could do the same things, and people just associated these functions with Magneto, which might be true for some of the hardcore competitive players, but these are just a small fraction of the game's playerbase. To more casual players, the appeal of a CrossoverLicensed Game mostly comes from the characters themselves and the ability to have them fightin the first place.
After a year of lackluster sales, Capcom quietly abandoned the game, and while some kept calling it "Functions vs. Functions Infinite" and bring up Chun-Li's Butter Face as a punchline (which was corrected quickly after the initial controversy), the game still has a small but passionate player base that values the gameplay that was ignored in all the chaos caused by the aforementioned controversies. A few anonymous Capcom employees later revealed that the game was made on a dime and was given little time for development with higher ups forcing them to reuse assets from MvC3 to save money and time, leading to the aforementioned Uncanny Valley on the Capcom characters.
The first Mass Effect was known by those who hadn't played it (due to being released only on Xbox 360 and PC) as that sci-fi game that has an explicit sex scene and allowed a lesbian romance between a Female PC and a blue alien chick, thanks to a very misinformed and reactionary segment on Fox News.
Mass Effect 3 quickly became notorious for both including an explicit gay romance option for a Male Player Character (being one of the first AAA games to do so) and for its anticlimactic ending after promises of a Grand Finale where most of the major choices would have an impact (in the final product, the ending revolves around a final galaxy-affecting choice at the end), which provoked a backlash so vehement that BioWare was forced to release an "Extended Cut" DLC (which included a narrated epilogue explaining the fates of all the surviving characters, factions and races) in a desperate attempt to calm the fans. Expect any discussion of the game as a whole to gravitate towards the ending and/or the reaction to it.
Mass Effect: Andromeda already had to contend with EA's distinct lack of goodwill from players, but when the game launched with a plethora of bugs, broken facial animations, and poorly-handled LGBT romance options, any hopes it had of succeeding or failing on its own merits were sunk. After a series of patches to fix the worst issues, the general consensus was that the game was merely mediocre, but the damage had already been done; players were no longer interested, and EA decided to put the series on hiatus for a few years, until they announced the release of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, a remaster of the first three games for newer systems and Bioware announced the development of Mass Effect Next, a direct sequel to the first three games that disregards the events of Andromeda.
Medal of Honor (2010) and its sequel Medal of Honor: Warfighter would've been a forgotten as a run-of-the-mill military shooters. However, the first game experienced some political backlash for having the Taliban as a playable faction in multiplayer, which lead to Danger Close studio renaming the faction to "Opposing Force". The sequel Warfighter is better known for killing the franchise and having US Navy SEALs consultants who worked on the game without permission from the Pentagon.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is considered a crossfire victim within the Konami / Hideo Kojima controversy resulting with Kojima's departure from the company and the cancellation of Silent Hills. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...
Metroid: Other M is mainly known for putting series protagonist Samus Aran through severe Badass Decay, thanks to a combination of Character Shilling of Adam Malkovich (who himself acts nothing like the strict yet respectful military genius he is stated to be in Metroid Fusion), Values Dissonance, and just plain bad writing (plot holes, poor pacing, failure to follow Show, Don't Tell, etc.). It's made all the worse since Samus is one of the medium's first and most well-known female protagonists and therefore something of a feminist gaming icon, which means gender politics get brought into play (and Other M's gratuitous Male Gaze at inappropriate moments doesn't help either). In second place is the attempted justification for the series' usual Bag of Spilling that ends up absurd: Samus does have all her upgrades from the start, but refuses to use them until she is granted permission, even if it means not using heat shielding in a lava-filled area (where Convection Schmonvection is not in effect, so Samus is intentionally letting herself be harmed just because Adam didn't authorize her to use her Varia Suit).
Other M even wound up overshadowing the next game in the series, Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Fans had been desperate for a new entry to correct Other M's sins and put the series back on track, but Federation Force is a multiplayer co-op game featuring Federation soldiers instead of a Metroidvania starring Samus, adding up to an immediate Audience-Alienating Premise. From its announcement, it was received with bile from fans for not being what they wanted in the slightest. Even its defenders admitted that Nintendo really misread the timing and the audience here. Even worse, a couple weeks before Federation Force came out, the Fan RemakeAnother Metroid 2 Remake was released; this was exactly the style of game that Metroid fans wanted, but Nintendo shut it down within a few days, riling everyone up again.note Even though the creator of AM2R admitted that Nintendo did have the right to do so, being that it's their IP. Thankfully, nearly a year later Nintendo announced a new Metroid Prime title and their ownMetroid II remake, Samus Returns, helping to satisfy the fans upset by Other M and Federation Force and partially explaining the AM2R takedown.
Samus Returns itself managed to escape this issue, despite everything it had going against it. For Nintendo to announce a remake of the same game that devoted fans had spent the course of an entire decade recreating for no financial gain, only to have the fruit of efforts taken offline mere hours after its release, so soon after the C&D went out took some serious chutzpah and could easily have garnered no end of negative press and fan backlash. Upon the release of the game, however, fans and critics generally came to agree that Samus Returns and AM2R are both very good games in their own right, with both games merely doing certain things better than the other. Despite this, you'll still run into the occasional Metroid superfan who picks every aspect of the official remake apart for reasons that amount to "it's not AM2Rso it's bad."
Mighty No. 9, for the majority of its developmental cycle, was extremely hyped and awaited due to it looking like a worthy successor to Mega Man. The project was headed by series co-creator Keiji Inafune, and was held up as a sign of what crowdfunding could achieve. However, as time when on, the game's reputation got increasingly bogged down by further crowdfunding attempts for extra features, as well as a series of delays.note The game's planned release date was April 2015; it came out in June 2016, and only for some of the promised platforms at the time. The nail in the coffin was the Red Ash Kickstarter, which started before Mighty No. 9 was even released and had some shady practices involved, and a Totally Radical ad for Mighty No. 9 containing the phrase "make the bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night", which insulted most of the game's fanbase. In particular, it was revealed that the game was already funded, and the Kickstarter was merely to increase its scope; it failed by a decent amount. By the time the game was finally released, to negative reviews, a good chunk of backers wanted their money back and were more interested in the Troubled Production than the game itself, and it became a symbol of how not to make a game via crowdfunding.
Game designer Peter Molyneux, and the games he has created including Black & White, Dungeon Keeper, and the Fable series, are known best for his habit of promising outlandish or ambitious features that end up nowhere to be seen when the final game releases. As a result, the actual quality of his games is rarely discussed, only their failure to live up to his overpromising.
Mortal Kombat helped lead to the creation of the ESRB through its fatality mechanic, which allows players to kill their defeated opponents in a gruesome and graphic way. Amusingly, the Sega versions of the game were rated, while the Nintendo ports were censored.note At the time, Sega used their own rudimentary content rating system. Decades later, outside of dedicated Fighting Game fans, the series is still mostly known for its extreme graphic violence rather than its story or gameplay (although this isn'talwaysa bad thing).
No Man's Sky, which was riding a wave of extreme speculation since its initial reveal at the 2013 Spike Video Game Awards, has been caught in a lot of controversy prior and after its release. Internet Historian details the controversy from the perspective of both the fans and Hello Games in this video.
The game gained a Vocal Minority of absurdly zealous fans well over a year before it even came out, to the extent that they ended up sending death threats to both the developers of the game and a Kotaku reporter as a consequence of a short release date delay, tainting the perception of its fanbase before it came out. The actual release didn't improve the situation — the game got disappointing So Okay, It's Average reviews on the PlayStation 4 and was an Obvious Beta on PC, to which the most devoted fans reacted by lashing out at anyone who had anything bad to say about the game, to the extent that reviewer Jim Sterling's website got what is believed to be a distributed denial-of-service for his slightly negative review. Meanwhile, another group of fan haters were happy to see the game "fail" and decided to attack anyone who had anything good to say about the game.
To make matters worse, the game became embroiled in a debate over whether Hello Games was guilty of false advertising; various interviews and promotional materials had promised a number of features that didn't make it into the game at launch. Most notably, it was mentioned that players could interact with each other, but the game was strictly single player at launch, which Hello Games tried to justify by claiming that since the game's universe is so large, the odds of two players running into each other were nearly impossible (two players promptly proved that wrong by finding the same planet in-game and standing in the same spot at the same time without seeing each other). This raised the question of whether the developers were snake-oil salesmen willing to say anything to make a profit, or if they had just bitten off more than they could chew. It didn't take long after its launch for No Man's Sky to gain comparisons to other games that promised more than they eventually delivered like Spore and Fable. Even though Hello Games did manage to eventually Win Back the Crowd with various updates to fix the game's many issues and add promised features in, heated debates still pop up (mostly whenever a new update comes out) over whether lead developer Sean Murray is a liar who shouldn't be forgiven, or if the post-release patches have successfully redeemed him and Hello Games. This has led No Man's Sky to be seen by some as a cautionary tale of everything wrong with hype culture in AAA video games.
The Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man is known for being a rushedPorting Disaster, with its flickering ghosts being its most common complaint, but it's also infamous for Atari manufacturing more cartridges than there were Atari 2600's on the market at the timenote By March 1982, Atari had sold approximately 10 million consoles, but they manufactured approximately 12 million copies of Pac-Man, believing thatsince the original Arcade Game was (and still is) a huge critical and commercial successpeople would order more Atari 2600's just to play Pac-Man at home. While the game was initially a commercial success, selling 7 million copies, word quickly got out that it was a terrible port of the original, many copies were refunded, and Atari became distrusted by gamers. In short, Atari's botched port and the backlash that ensued was a significant contributor to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, which the port has become forever associated with.
Paper Mario: Color Splash was wrecked by the fanbase upon its announcement due to being a sequel (gameplay-wise) to Paper Mario: Sticker Star. While many of the developers attempted to assure fans that it would address the shortcomings of Sticker Star, unfortunately for them, an interview with one of its producers, Risa Tabata, gave the impression that the heads of the creative team saw the Mario & Luigi franchise as the premier "Mario RPG franchise" (that also happens to diverge from its RPG roots in favor of gimmicks and setpieces as of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam) and that the Paper Mario franchise would instead focus more on humor and puzzles.
The Postal series is well-known for being a common target for Moral Guardians to campaign against video game violence in its heyday, more so than any quality of gameplay, as opposed to other common targets like Doom or Grand Theft Auto.
Prius Online, a now-discontinued South Korean Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game, is only known for an incident in which a neglected baby starved to death after her parents preoccupied themselves with raising their in-game Anima companion. This incident became the subject of a documentary titled Love Child, and this has been consistently listed as one of the most unfortunate cases of video game addiction.
Rise of the Robots is generally considered a terrible game, but that's not the reason for its infamy (although it does tie into it). For all its failings, the game had spectacular graphics for 1993, which meant that hype was high, and magazines in Britain covering it sold like hotcakes (this was before the internet went mainstream, so gaming magazines were the only source of information on upcoming video games). Preview articles sent the game's Hype Train into overdrive, with claims that it would be a Genre Turning Point for Fighting Games and that it could even dethrone Street Fighter II. After being in development for a long time, Rise finally came out in 1994, and magazines gave it glowing reviews, which led to high sales... and that led to tons of people finding out that the game's quality did not match the magazines' reviews at all. In exchange for review copies, British game journalists promised to give positive reviews, but Rise's flaws were so severe that good graphics and tons of hype couldn't save it. (This was avoided in America, where Game Pro and EGM, who were known for being against this behaviors, gave the game negative reviews) Nowadays, it's hard to talk about the game without bringing up the fact that it was singlehandedly responsible for destroying public trust in British gaming magazines, putting many of them out of business.
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom actually fixed many of the complains people have had over the last games and is as a result often considered the best Settlers game in almost a decade. Unfortunately though, the game's problematic, always online DRM and infamously badNorth American box art◊ meant most people didn't bother to find out.
Try mentioning SimCopter to anyone without someone bringing up the infamous "himbo" Easter Egg. Just try. When the game initially released, one of the developers snuck in this gag without Maxis's permission, where on certain days of the year note The programmer's birthday, his ex's birthday, or Friday the 13th, male citizens in nothing but speedos would show up in ridiculous numbers and start making out with one another. The Easter Egg wasn't caught until long after several tens of thousands of copies had shipped, leading to a massive recall and the oddity getting patched out of future releases. If you find yourself telling someone you bought a used copy, expect them to ask if you're going to see if it has this in it.
The Slaughtering Grounds was a cheaply made, asset-flip ridden first-person shooter game done by two people that seemed to have only made the game for a quick buck. Jim Sterling of Jimquisition fame tore the game a new one by heavily criticizing the game's broken mechanics, boring gameplay, and heavy use of purchased stock assets that did not fit the theme of the game and clashed with every other asset. The developers tried to silence Sterling with a copyright takedown, and when the takedown failed (along with other attempts to discredit Sterling), the duo then outright sued Sterling for defamation and other damages, to the tune of 10 million dollars. The moment the lawsuit happened, the game quickly became known for two people that couldn't take criticism over a crappy and broken game, and caused whole internet communities to spring up solely dedicated to scrutinizing and mocking the duo's previous work. Their reputation would only plummet even further when the duo tried suing Steam users for leaving negative reviews of their games—a move that led to Valve swiftly pulling all of the duo's games from the service in response. This reputation has followed these developers to every new online storefront they join since being booted from Steam, in spite of them assuming new aliases and trying to stay under the radar.
The fangame Sonic Gather Battle quickly became engulfed by controversy entirely over the fact that the creator, growing ridiculously overprotective of his derivative work (even though, by its nature as a fangame, the game uses characters, assets, and music that he does not own), implemented an overly intrusive form of DRM—again, in a fangame—that automatically closes the player's web browser without warning if any web search for "cheat" or "hack" is performed while the game is open, and turns the game into something out of a creepypastanote The backgrounds turn red and yellow glowing eyes appear at random, the music is replaced with the US Sonic CD boss theme, and enormous One-Hit Kill ghosts spawn if it detects a cheat engine, logs the user's IP address, and sends it to the creator if it deems that the player is trying to hack into the game. It got to the point that most discussions about it treat it as a straight-up virus or malware.
SNK All Stars is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of SNK's various franchises. Among the general public, however, the game is almost entirely known for an infamous ad made by a (currently unknown) advertising partner where an extremelyOut of Character Terry Bogard gropes Mai Shiranui, Blue Mary, and Kula Diamond while riding a bike. If the disgusting premise and blatant character derailment wasn't enough to sway public knowledge of the game, then the heavy amount of news coverage and Kula being underage sure did the job. To make matters even worse, the ad became the center of a debate over mobile game ads and their abuse of the Sex Sells trope, ensuring that the ad will forever live in infamy.
Soulcalibur III is still a popular game in the series, thanks in part to the large amount of single-player content offered in the game. However, this tends to be overshadowed by the outcry that rose from the decision to release the game exclusively on the PlayStation 2, which angered fans who bought the previous game for the GameCube or Xbox. This is especially the case concerning the GameCube version since it was actually the most popular version because ofthe inclusion ofLink.
Soulcalibur II HD Remix received a lot of flack for not being released on a Nintendo console. The reason is that the original release had Version-Exclusive Content with a different Guest Fighter on each console, and HD Remix was intended to have the multiple guests in a single game. But the GameCube guest was Link from The Legend of Zelda and Nintendo understandably did not want their character on a rival console, so the developers decided to forego the Wii U release in order to keep the rosters the same on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Soulcalibur V will be remembered as the game that killed the franchise stone dead for six years because of the fandom's anger over the following: a Time Skip that tried to justify the removals and/or replacements of popular characters like Taki, Talim, and Xianghua, with most of the characters outright replaced being women and most similarly aged male characters stayed on the cast regardless, and others arbitrarily given various excuses for not aging at all; the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the new protagonist Patroklos; and the fact that 3/4 of the planned story was left on the cutting room floor... with the remaining 25% focusing exclusively on Patroklos and his sister Pyrrha, leaving the rest of the cast with no Story Mode of their own. All of these issues led to the next entry in the series being made a Continuity Reboot so the creators could wash their hands of the game.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the long-awaited fourth game of the Sly Cooper franchise, became infamous shortly after release for having Penelope Mouse, a Nice Girl and loyal friend to the Cooper Gang in the previous game, pull a FaceHeel Turn and become a greedy Yandere for a cheap Plot Twist, and for ending the game on a cliffhanger. Fans were initially agreeable to the Sequel Hook (the previous three games had ended with their own sequel hooks), as they thought that the franchise would have another major trilogy in the works similar to the Ratchet & Clank Future trilogy, no fifth game was ever announced... and within a year, Sanzaru Games, who had developed Thieves in Time, confirmed that they weren't making a sequel. Fans were so angry with the Downer Endingleaving Sly trapped in ancient Egypt, and Penelope's contrived FaceHeel Turn leaving her an enemy of the Cooper Gang that would never be resolved that they've since disowned the game from annual replays or events. Sanzaru was declared a pariah of the video game industry.
Star Control Origins' release has been marred by a legal battle between the original creators of the Star Control IP, who wanted to publish their own sequel, and Stardock, the publishers of Origins. Fans of Star Control are heavily split between those who support the original creators' project, those who want Origins to succeed, and those who feel like both versions of the franchise have merit. Fortunately, the legal dispute was resolved in such a way as to let both game projects continue, but it has left a bitter taste in many fans' mouths.
Star Fox Adventures is primarily remembered for the bizarre Troubled Production it faced throughout its development, having started life as a Diddy Kong Racing sequel before being retooled into the original IP Dinosaur Planet, and then retooled again into a Star Fox game after Shigeru Miyamoto commented on the similar appearances of the games' leads to Fox McCloud. This leftfield cycling of properties, combined with a buyout from Xbox Game Studios that forced Rare to rush the game out before the change of hands went into effect (leading to many important aspects of the game's story and characters being axed or shuffled around), ensured that Star Fox Adventures would be permanently defined by its hectic development cycle rather than by any of its own merits.
Any and all discussion of Star Wars Battlefront II was swallowed up by the backlash against its microtransaction system, which was implemented in a way that many felt tread dangerously close to outright pay-to-win gambling, especially since, being a Star Wars game, it was guaranteed to be played by children despite the T (13+) rating. The game had Loot Boxes, purchased either with Credits (earned by playing matches) or Crystals (earned by paying real money), that gave a random selection of Star Cards that could be used to upgrade the abilities of your characters. The game also had Heroes (playable characters, including iconic Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader) that required an absurd amount of Credits to unlock, so trying to unlock one would require you to abstain from buying lootboxes (and thus eschew the upgrades they contained, playing at a disadvantage) or only buy lootboxes with Crystals. It was calculated that it would take approximately forty hours of gameplay to unlock just one of the top-tier Heroes with Credits. The microtransaction/lootbox system gave it such a bad reputation that multiple governments labeled it as gambling and are working now to regulate lootboxes and microtransactions in general, if not outright ban them. Even after multiple changes (including the removal of all non-cosmetic lootbox drops), the game never fully escaped its terrible first impression. This incident left enough of an impact that some later console-based Star Wars games published by Electronic Arts explicitly mentioned not having microtransations when they were first announced, which included the single-player game Jedi: Fallen Order.
Imagos Softworks' Starr Mazer: DSP is best known for the bizarre, sustained contract and copyright dispute that occurred in 2017 between composer Alex Mauer and Imagos, which saw Mauer successfully and frequently filing fraudulent DMCA claims against YouTube videos of the game in retaliation against Imagos, attracting massive backlash and drawing attention to how easily the site's DMCA report system could be abused.
Street Fighter X Tekken was highly anticipated upon release, being the crossover of two fighting game giants. The original plan was to have two games: Street Fighter X Tekken was made by Capcom and drew most of its gameplay inspiration from Street Fighter, while a planned follow-up titled Tekken X Street Fighter, developed by Namco, would play more like Tekken. Then, a series of controversies ruined the game's reputation and condemned Namco's half of the duology to Development Hell, the closest thing to it being Street Fighter's Akuma making an appearance as a Guest Fighter in Tekken 7. The most infamous issues were:
The English localization of Super Mario Bros. Encyclopediaa book containing information on the Super Mario Bros. games from the original on the NES all the way to Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U, that was officially licensed by Nintendobecame embroiled in controversy just over one week after its release when it was discovered that one of the translators on the team, Zack Davisson, had decided to cut corners with some of the more obscure character names across the franchise in a less-than-ethical way. Instead of doing careful research and contacting Nintendo like the German and French localisation teams had, Davisson plagiarised from the Super Mario Wiki and Mario Fandom, without giving credit or citing their sources. This left a sour taste in many readers' mouths, and both Dark Horse Comics and Nintendo received fan backlash for proof-reading neglection. Nintendo also received flak for their neglection being seen as incredibly hypocritical, given their notorious litigation against fan games. This incident has made it very difficult for Super Mario fans to recommend buying the English version of the book, with most urging against doing so or at least telling people to buy a second-hand copy so as not to give financial support to its author's unethical behavior.
For years, Telltale Games was one of the biggest names in the video game world, with its Signature Style emphasizing complex storytelling and often agonizing moral dilemmas getting a ton of loyal fans. Then they abruptly announced a "majority studio closure" after their last investor had pulled out of funding in September 2018, leaving the finale of its heavily acclaimed The Walking Dead series in question (it was eventually finished by Skybound Studios; Kirkman's company and IP owner), cancelling several other projects in development, and laying off all but 25 of their employees without any prior warning. This has resulted in a massive lawsuit, citing that Telltale violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN Act) and the more stringent requirements set by California of requiring at least 60 days notification before issuing mass layoffs. This led to the revelation that none of Telltale's games outside of The Walking Dead and Minecraft: Story Mode were profitable and most were developed under heavy crunch due to the company's founder and former-CEO's draconian management.
TERA tried to market itself as a new breed of action MMO, but most people who know of it know of it because of the controversy over the Elin, a One-Gender Race of flat-chested Older Than They Look Lolicon-like Little Bit Beastly girls who, like all the women in the game, dress in an incredibly skimpy fashion. Even with the American publishing company (shoddily) making the clothes more modest, this reputation has never particularly died down. As you can guess, Western fans of the game actually developed uncensored patches because they in turn feel betrayed by their publishers, making this a double case of this.
Thrill Kill is a case where the controversy was enough for the game to never get released (it was so violent the ESRB gave it an Adults Only Rating, and thus Electronic Arts pulled the plug despite it being basically finished).
Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE was originally announced as a straightfoward serious Fire Emblem and Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei crossover Role-Playing Game on 2013, but became this upon its gameplay reveal in 2015 as a Lighter and SofterIdol Singer-themed Shin Megami TenseiSpin-Off RPG more in-line with the popular Persona series, with an original cast of protagonists that uses Fire Emblem characters as the companion monsters and enemies of the game. The ensuing backlash led to Nintendo of America giving the game a non-existent advertising campaign and little-to-no fanfare during its release. The game's Western release (and the Japanese version of the Nintendo SwitchUpdated Re-releasenote Notably, the announcement that the Japanese Switch version would be based on the censored and rebalanced western version caused the uncensored Wii U version to rise to the top of the sales charts) was also significantly censored in some parts, mostly regarding the more mature sexual content and humor, causing even fans of Japanese media who would otherwise be interested in the game to boycott it out of principle. The combination of all these factors lead to the game bombing in sales and killing plans for a proposed series of Shin Megami Tensei crossover spin-offs. It did manage to get a small following however, with multiple players noting that even with the unexpected tone, themes and notable censorship for the western Wii U release, the gameplay was solid and those not even fans of the idol genre could see the game crafting its own identity. Thus, the Switch rerelease was made and sold better than the Wii U version, but the presence of censorship on both regions this time resulted in yet another controversy that proceeded to undermine potential sales once more.
Any discussions of Warcraft III: Reforged (2020) inevitably become subsumed by its disastrous launch and questionable actions that further damaged Blizzard's reputation after its merger with Activision. Announced as an Updated Re Release to the much-loved Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002), Blizzard promised to align its lore with World of Warcraft while remaining faithful to what made the original game great and co-existing alongside it in the Battle.net client, which generated a lot of excited anticipation from fans. It was released to complete derision for being an Obvious Beta and completely failing to deliver on its promises. The cinematic cutscenes from the trailer were unexpectedly removed, several features were missing from the original game, and it was riddled with Game-Breaking Bugs including disconnection problems. What solidified its infamy was that the original game was removed from the Blizzard store while being automatically overwritten with the remaster in the client, even to those who already had the original, the remaster's EULA grants Blizzard exclusive ownership over any and all user-created content note A big deal, considering that user-created WCIII maps such as Defense of the Ancients and Tower Defense were the Trope Codifier for some extremely popular genres of games - there would probably be no League of Legends or Bloons Tower Defense without those two maps to pave the way, and Blizzard's official response to the backlash was seen as Blizzard blaming their own customers for having their expectations too high, even though those high expectations were set by Blizzard themselves.
The tie-in game for Westworld got Warner Brothers sued just one day after its release. The game was a ripoff of Fallout Shelter to start with, and then the Fallout Shelter developers noticed that the Westworld game suffered from the exact same bug that the Fallout game had upon release which they had later patched, which prompted them to accuse the Westworld developer of having used the exact same code which was their property. This pretty much led the game to eventually be shut down in January 2019. Funnily enough, just a month earlier the show itself had an episode revealing that the various parks sometimes copy storylines wholesale between each other.
We Dare is mostly known for its provocative advertising campaign, which implied that playing the game involved players engaging in all sorts of risqué behavior in real life, including spanking each other and stripping naked. The game itself is a So Okay, It's Average mini-game collection/party game, and contains only mildly suggestive content at worst, but ironically said lack of objectionable content resulted in a low age rating, which critics argued was at odds with the game's marketing. As a result of the controversy, Ubisoft cancelled its North American release, and it faced scrutiny in the regions it did come out in such as the UK and Australia.
WWE 2K16 is best remembered for the controversy that erupted when it was revealed the "Four Horsewomen of NXT" (Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley) would not be included in the game despite most of the male NXT names making it in, not even as DLC. Not even the WWE video game debut of Samoa Joe that year (who debuted just that May) was able to calm down the fans' anger.
During the run up to its release and its early life, the Xbox One was defined by the massive outcry over Microsoft's (ultimately scrapped) plans to give the console DRM that would require it to connect to Xbox Live at least once every 24 hours and placed heavy restrictions on used games. Also controversial was the fact that Microsoft was bundling a built-in Kinect with every console and requiring users to have it plugged into the system for the Xbox One to function, which (a) increased the price of the systemnote a hundred dollars more than the PlayStation 4 would sell for at launch and (b) upset many people who weren't interested in Kinect or were worried about its potential privacy implications. The backlash got so bad that Microsoft reversed the DRM and requirement that Kinect be plugged in at all times; however, the ill will Microsoft had created by adopting these policies in the first place, along with the fact that there was initially no option to buy the console without a Kinect, turned many people off from the machine, some permanently swearing off Microsoft's products in the future. By the time Microsoft eliminated the last of these problems by releasing a cheaper, Kinect-free version of the One six months after its release, many people had long since moved on to rival platforms, giving the Xbox One (including models One X and One S) a massive deficit in sales for its entire lifetime.
Once a heavily anticipated indie title whose demos gained a wide fandom overnight, Yandere Simulator is better-known nowadays for the heavy amounts of drama surrounding its lead developer, YandereDev. Most notoriously, the fact that the game has been in an alpha state since 2014 resulted in many accusing him of milking Development Hell for profit, and the demos' poor coding resulted in widespread ridicule that only corroborated the controversy surrounding his apparent approach to game development. As a result, any attempts at discussing Yandere Simulator today will inevitably circle around to YandereDev himself and especially his treatment of the game.
YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG is plagued with its own issues like story pacing and sluggish gameplay, but what really brought the game into the spotlight were both the revelation that its main developer, Brian Allanson, plagiarized a few paragraphs from Haruki Murakami's novels as a poor attempt at a Shout-Out and his confirmation on Twitter that the game's premise is based on the (unsolved) real life death of Elisa Lam, the latter of which was condemned by many as disrespectful.