Top 5 Video Game Fails of 2017

2017 was a pivotal year for the gaming industry, seeing the release of the Nintendo Switch, multiple successful exclusives from Sony for the PS4, and an attempt by Microsoft to do something worthwhile. We’ve yet to see the latter pan out. Nintendo released plenty of first-party content with multiple Game of the Year contenders in Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, Sony had a smashing success with Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5, and Microsoft announced/delayed/canceled anything that could be deemed a worthy title for their platform. So that begs the question — where does the industry go from here? Nobody knows.

Fortunately, there is something I do know that doesn’t require any “inside scoops” or a general understanding of the current standing of the game industry — failure. Today we are going to look at the Top 5 biggest fails of 2017 in my favorite industry, video games. There were plenty of blunders this year so finding fodder for article inspiration came easily. To all of the biggest failures that didn’t make our list, I’m sure you can screw something up again for reconsideration next year. Let’s get into it.

#5 – Lawbreakers

By now everyone has heard of Cliff Bleszinski’s first new project since coming out of retirement in 2014, after co-founding Boss Key Productions with Arjan Brusee. Lawbreakers is a standard first-person shooter, in terms of capturing objectives, killing the opposing teams’ players, and utilizing several different classes. The major difference thrown into the mix is the gravity fields, which allow players to float and maneuver on parts of the map, giving a fresh perspective not seen anywhere else in the genre. Lawbreakers received generally positive reviews across the board, us included, and even made the list for Eurogamers Top 50 Games of 2017. So why is this game on our Top 5 fail list?

Lawbreakers opened up their first closed beta, which peaked at 7500 concurrent users on Steam. Everything went downhill from there, as the player base for the second beta, this one open, was nearly half the amount of players that participated in the closed beta. The game officially launched on August 8, 2017, with a concurrent player base of roughly 3000. This is a poor showing for any game, especially one with the mastermind behind Gears of War leading the charge. Poor marketing decisions, the backlash from the community, and the stigma surrounding Lawbreakers as a poorly developed game made it impossible for Boss Key to dig their way out of the hole. To make matters worse, the media jumped on the bandwagon to talk about how the game was DOA and highlighting it’s similarities to Overwatch, which are, in my opinion,  inaccurate.

Lawbreakers is an entertaining game, with everything you might expect from a first-person shooter trying to stand out in a crowded genre. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Lawbreakers at launch, but with such a low player base it took ages to find a match, and when I did it usually wasn’t fun, due to the lack of varying competition. I’m no marketing expert, but I believe Boss Key made a fatal mistake of launching in 2017, with Overwatch still in its infancy (and having an event in full swing, no less) and PUBG taking a major share of the market. This combined with the stigma surrounding Lawbreakers as a “dead” game, ultimately resulted in a pit they couldn’t recover from.

It remains to be seen which direction Boss Key will take with Lawbreakers, but it could be beyond the point of revival.

#4 – EA’s E3 Conference Fail (Starring Jesse Wellens)