2016's Most Woeful Games

Every year there are more bad games released than good ones. In 2016 something like 40% of Steam's entire library was brand new, and you can bet that out of those hundreds of games, the vast majority of them were bottom-dwelling crap-piles that never should have even made it onto the drawing board.

Sure, most of those are no-budget single-dev cash grabs, but even some major games are going to disappoint when there are just so many games being released. As such, at the end of the year, everyone is quick to jump on the "most disappointing games of the year" bandwagon.

And that list looks pretty much the same no matter where you're reading it. So instead of doing that, I wanted to talk about the five games that just really got dealt a bad hand in 2016. Some of these are the fault of the developer to some extent, but in each case there was something completely outside of their control that utterly ruined the game.


You can go to our YouTube channel (link to the right) and watch my first impressions of Battleborn from way back during the open beta this past spring. The game is legitimately fun, but you'd be forgiven for not buying it, and that's because nobody really did.

While you can play the story mode as a single player, it really does rely on you being able to field a balanced roster of at least three players to beat it. And the multiplayer really is the meat of this game. It was intended as a mix between an FPS and a MOBA, with the emphasis on the "multiplayer online" portion of that recipe. Because nobody bought the game, the multiplayer is very sparsely populated, which makes the game hard to play.

So why did this happen? Well, things started out good. The open beta for the game went just swell. I played loads of multiplayer during that weekend, and there were virtually no wait times since there were so many people online. Things were shaping up for a lovely release three weeks later.

Then two weeks later, the Overwatch open beta happened. And then everyone that was going to buy Battleborn waited an extra two weeks and bought Overwatch instead. It's not that Battleborn is a bad game. It's just that Overwatch is better. If their releases hadn't been so close, things might have turned out differently for Gearbox and poor, poor Battleborn.

No Man's Sky

Okay, remember how I said that at least some developer blame could be thrown around for some of these games? Yeah, I was talking about this one. Had they kept their promises more realistic, or had they reduced the launch price for the game by about half, this might not have wound up being the biggest letdown of 2016.

But I want to cut the devs a little slack, for a few reasons. First, the company are kinda rookies. Sure there's some development experience on the team, but where they're lacking is in the press department. They did not properly manage player expectations leading up to the launch, and they didn't properly manage player anger following the launch. And because they weren't managing that communication, the games press went ahead and did it for them.

This ended up producing enormous, completely unreasonable amounts of hype, and then a flamboyantly overblown negative reaction. If the press had been a little more considerate through the entire process, the devs might not have thought they could get away with a $60 price tag at the beginning, and they might have had time to patch the game into something entertaining before everyone jumped ship.

Evolve Stage 2

Evolve was released in 2015, I know. But it didn't really pick up the numbers it needed to make its interesting 4v1 monster hunting gameplay great in multiplayer. So, in summer 2016, Evolve Stage 2 was released. This re-release completely changed the format of the game and turned it into a free-to-play game that relied on progression-speeding micro-transactions to bring in the money.

I've played Stage 2, and I love the concept. The whole thing was a jump out of what we're used to in online multiplayer, and while it's a concept that's inherently difficult to balance, they did a pretty dang good job with it. It's fun, it looks good, and it's just something different in the world of functionally identical military shooters, which is nice. Breath of fresh air, and whatnot.

But the writing was on the wall early for Stage 2. Even though there were a lot of people downloading the game, not that many were actually getting in there any playing it, and even fewer were actually spending money on it. So just last month the devs announced that all active development on Evolve was ending. The servers are still running for the time being, at least, but nothing new will be coming.


There's a cautionary tale in movie history I want to mention, and that's the legend of Titan A.E. Titan A.E. was an animated movie written by Joss Whedon and featuring the voice talents of folks like Matt Damon and Bill Pullman. It was the pioneer in mixing traditional hand-drawn animation with computer rendered images that defined the look and feel of the next several years of Disney films, resulting in stuff like Treasure Planet, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Tarzan. The story was fun, unique sci-fi, and the production was very well done. And absolutely nobody saw it or even remembers it.

This is because of marketing. Nobody in charge of marketing the movie had any idea what the movie was or how to sell it. I have a sense that something very similar happened with ReCore. The game isn't bad. It's a perfectly serviceable action platformer/puzzler that takes place in an interesting setting and uses some unique mechanics. It looks good and plays decently, but nobody bought it.

I think that's because the marketing department didn't really know what it was. It was marketed as a third-person shooter, an action adventure, a dystopian survival horror game, basically everything besides Mario meets Portal with robots. And it was never intended to be any of those things, really, so it fell totally flat. And what do you do as a developer when you see something you worked really hard on being sold as something you know it isn't? Move on to something else, I guess.

Pokemon Go

So, let's talk about July 2016. Do you remember it? Like, at all? Or was the whole thing a hazy mess that you couldn't quite remember when you finally woke up super hung over in August? That's because of Pokemon Go, and yes, I'm going to finish off the year talking about that game.

In case you somehow slept through 2016, Pokemon Go was enormously popular. It got millions of people who play video games out of the house walking around their neighborhoods, and millions more who don't really play video games playing a video game literally all the time. What a way to bring people together! What a boon for the video game industry as a whole new market opened up!

Shame the game responsible for catching that market's attention wasn't very good.

Don't get me wrong, it was an entertaining little flight of fancy. But it was barely even a game. It was severely limited by the fact that you couldn't trade pokemon or battle your friends, and the hype dried up really fast once everyone realized it was basically a really super buggy step-tracking app. Now there are millions of people out there who will probably never seriously look at a video game again, simply because they think they're just idle distractions with no staying power.

But again, this probably wasn't the dev's fault. Did they know this was going to be bigger than their other location-based app? Probably, considering there were Pokemon involved. But could they have predicted just how many people would dive into this thing like they were in the middle of the Sahara and it was the frikin' Olympian nectar of the Gods laced with chocolate and crack? Probably not.