The Dorklyst: The 9 Worst Videogame Launches of All-Time

By Andrew Bridgman / March 13, 2013

6. Half-Life 2

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Ahhh, Valve…the shining beacon of videogame goodness and generosity, a flawless diamond in the rough of the gaming landscape – how could they do any wrong? Half-Life 2 is one of the greatest games ever, and Steam is the perfect platform for PC gaming! It's not like anyone was singing a different tune about ten years ago, right?

Half-Life 2 was released via Steam on November 16, 2004 – the first game to require Steam to be playable. And it was a deeply-flawed mess. Valve had allowed gamers to pre-load the game as far back as August that year, just needing to download a simple code to jump into the game immediately once released. But Valve's servers were (expectedly) overloaded, leaving many unable to get their games (whether downloaded or purchased as a box copy) validated. The game the internet had been waiting for years for was unavailable, users were writing off Steam as a huge misstep, and cats and dogs were living together – mass hysteria.

5. Star Wars Galaxies

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SWG sounded like every nerd's dream come true – you could create a character in the Star Wars universe, do anything you wanted, travel to familiar planets and locales, and maybe even unlock your Force potential and train to become a Jedi! Sure, the game ultimately was a little too complex and unwieldy to ever really live up to this crazy promise, but it was exciting nonetheless.

As one of the most anticipated MMO launch of all-time, thousands and thousands tried to login and play the game simultaneously – and pretty much no one got on. The servers were overloaded for well over a day, so that gamers could access nothing at all related to Star Wars Galaxies. It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, except without the "silenced" part, since forums exploded with anger and fury by those who had taken a week off of work to delve into their new life as a Rodian entertainer on Dantooine. Even after the servers caught up with the users, the game was plagued by issues that required numerous updates. And sadly, the game servers pulled the plug on the entire endeavor recently, shutting down the galaxy once and for all. Not even the Death Star could've done that.

4. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

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Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was a very special kind of disaster – it was hurled onto an unassuming public well before it had any right to be released, came with the standard numerous bugs, and featured a level of incompleteness rarely seen in a major launch. It advertised features – namely flying mounts – that simply weren't in the game whatsoever (until many months later). Patches were being sent out that actually led to additional bugs and glitches. And it was well-known that the game was rushed to market as quickly as possible, since revenue was desperately needed by the investors behind it. Active users sunk from over 200k initially, to a little over 100k after the first month, to settle around 40k within a few months – a drop of about 80%.

And – perhaps most dramatically – the horrible launch led to some bizarre consequences, including an event where half of the developer's employees were unceremoniously fired in the parking lot outside, after Sony bought all assets relating to the game away from other investors, in an attempt to salvage the mess that was Vanguard. Eventually the game was able to recover, more or less, and turn into something vaguely-resembling the fun and engaging game that was initially promised, but the launch forever crippled it (not to mention gave a bunch of developers a lot of stigma towards parking lots).

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