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

By Andrew Bridgman / March 13, 2013

3. The WarZ

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While The WarZ's launch was terrible, it did have one redeeming feature: it was very short-lived. On December 17th, 2012, after a brief alpha testing period, The WarZ was released on Steam. The game was notable for being widely viewed as a rushed knock-off of the popular ARMA 2 mod, DayZ, which debuted well before The WarZ and was generally more well-liked. But the biggest complaint about The WarZ itself came from the nature of the game itself – you had to pay for the game and microtransactions for in-game items and even re-spawning after death (or wait a multi-hour period to get back in the game you've already paid for). People had grumbled when it was a free alpha-testing game, but the outcry was deafening once it was released on Steam, with threads popping up across gaming sites, social media, and especially Reddit, all dedicated to pointing out egregious flaws of the game's design, the controversial issue of the game's origin, and the bad business practices by the developer (who were noted as refusing or making it very difficult to get a refund).

Within two days, the game was pulled from Steam (although it was recently – and very quietly – re-released on February 26th, 2013). A dead, monstrous game returning to semi-life? Maybe it's just the most meta zombie game ever.

2. Final Fantasy XIV

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Few view the last several years of the Final Fantasy franchise in a positive light, but the worst moment in all of Final Fantasy's multiple decade history is arguably the launch of Final Fantasy XIV. Like XI, it was designed as another MMO. Unlike XI, it was a laggy mess with an incomprehensible interface that couldn't figure out how to get it's PS3 port in shape enough for its own crappy launch. Beyond the bugs and performance issues, the game stood as just being poorly-designed on every level. You could hire NPCs to sell your goods – but there was no indication of who was selling what, leaving the market an inscrutable mess. There was a system in place that actually punished players for playing for extended periods of time – essentially a middle finger to the people who made up MMOs chief userbase. And the control scheme was, by most accounts, akin to stabbing yourself in the face repeatedly with a spiky axe.

The game was so widely disliked that Square-Enix actually pulled the game from shelves within about a month of release, with the intention of rebuilding the game from the ground up. Even at this point, years later, there is no solid release date for the "new" Final Fantasy XIV (subtitled: A Realm Reborn), although it should be released later this year. Probably as an iOS app with $200 in in-game microtransactions, but whatever it is couldn't be worse than the launch of XIV.

1. Ultima IX: Ascension

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Many years ago, in the ancient period of 1999, there were two entities known as EA and Origin. Sound familiar? EA is still EA, but Origin was a developer that worked on the Ultima series, that – up to that point – had been pretty well-regarded. Then Ascension was released.

A lot of things happened behind the scenes prior to this – at least 4 wildly different versions of the game were in development at various times, team members had come and gone, and technology advanced – but most of all, EA forced a set release date on the team. The game was then launched, in a buggy, horribly-unfinished state, and with ridiculous hardware requirements to boot. Updates and bug fixes did little to stop the game ending crashes – it was only when a former team member anonymously released an unofficial patch that the game was playable again. But even then, the game was an ugly mess, and would be the last single-player game ever released by Origin. But the end of one Origin would open the gates for another. The cycle continues.

It's like the old saying goes – "Those who do not learn from history are bound to buy messed-up EA games."

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