Signs of Imminent Failure, Part I: Video Games

A guy at work sent around this link to a wiki article on failed video games, video game consoles, and console peripherals. (We made five of the games on the list, but I digress.) It’s interesting reading. If you’re, y’know, a gigantic dork. But I was struck by this line describing the high-profile FMV video game failure, A Fork in the Tale:

“The game was heavily dependent on the video scenes and the star power of [Rob] Schneider to carry it.”

Well, if that doesn’t tell you that you’re game is completely fucked, I don’t know what does.

I don’t know that I’d call the Saturn or the Dreamcast failures. The Saturn was mishandled (let’s spend millions of dollars promoting “Saturnday” and then jump our release date!) but was still successful enough to survive for 4+ years and sell 10 million consoles.

The DC’s problem was that Sony got to design the PS2 to kill it once it had already reached stores. If Sega had been able to convince EA to go ahead and develop for the DC, I don’t know that the PS2 would have become as dominant.

I think it’s incredibly crass to have something like this, simply because there’s no freakin’ way to tell what will succeed and what won’t. Let’s remember that most of us didn’t even see an actual, physical PS2 unit for a whole year after its initial release. Sony took an enormous gamble, not only that gamers would get worked up in an incredible lather over nothing (literally!) but that the difficult programming (which a lot of programmers were pretty vocal about) would somehow just magically go away. Frankly, I wouldn’t have put two bucks on this to compete with a dilapidated Skee-ball machine in '01, much less the Dreamcast. Something like this is virtually a recipe for guaranteed disaster, and somehow, just somehow, it became one of the most beloved systems ever*.

Or how about the X-Box. Y’know, all that space taken up, not that great game selection, funny-looking controllers, no “cheat” devices at all (seriously, how hard would it be to put in some kind of online blocker?) …oh, and also the issue of certain systems breaking down for no reason at all. (It really is like a computer! :slight_smile: ) Can anyone honestly say that the X-Box was a better value than anything else available at the time? And it not only survived and got a bunch of exclusive licenses, we now have a new and more powerful verison.

It’s a crapshoot. Always has been, always will be. Don’t kid yourself into thinking differently.

(I will say, though, that if all your marketing centers around the supposed power of your system, you’re in trouble. I’m looking at you, Atari Jaguar.)

  • Don’t get me started on the reliability issues. If you so much as put a damn sticker on one of those things, it’s becomes unusable within two years. I’ve had to replace our original PS2 and the one I modchipped, and let’s not forget the one my father bought in Korea which also broke when I put a multitap…a peripheral, fer chrissake…in it. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but shouldn’t cost count into the overall value of a system?

Hey! SpouseO’s got a 3DO. Perhaps we’ll have to hang on to it just for the novelty - maybe it’ll be worth something someday. Games weren’t too bad, but then, we don’t have many. The Need for Speed on the 3DO did seem to me to be vastly better than the ones released for its competitors.

Funny, I still have my first run PS2. Only problem I’ve ever had was the little light on the power button died. And only when it’s turned on, when it’s powered down the little light works fine. I frequently pack it up and take it on trip in an old Jansport bookbag. Controllers, on the other hand, I go through like toilet paper. If I can get a controller to last 6 months, it’s damn good. My personal record is 3 hours. I bought and broke a brand new controller after 1 1/2 hours of Madden. That one got returned though, the rest sit in a pile in the closet.

I’m still on my first ps2 (purchased literally a month before the price drop from 300 to 200). Still on my first controller, well the R1 button sticks sometimes…

I still want to get a Sega CD someday just so I can play Third World War again… that game was awesome.

What clown puts PS:T and Wizardry 8 on the list of video game failures? PS:T made money, but not enough to satisfy the cheap suits who prefer either massive sales or total tax breaks. Wiz 8 was a solid game from a company that was already dying, and nothing less than a bajillion copies sold would have saved Sirtech at that point. It wasn’t going to happen and they must have known it, good on them for going the extra ten miles and releasing it anyway.

The wiki also needs some Duke Nukem 3D love and a big picture of Trip Hawkins at the top. Otherwise, good trip down memory lane.

Fun link, thanks. (Are you not allowed to say which company you work for, Miller ?)

Which game that actually sold any copies sold the least? Mourning Online has got to be close at only 211…

I’m not specifically disallowed, so long as I don’t talk about anything that hasn’t been released yet, or go around bad-mouthing the company. I don’t think this post costs as “bad-mouthing,” but to be on the safe side, let’s just say that my company produces a game that sounds like “Loom Braider.”

From working for the defunct company that produced several titles, I can say this: Letting the art and programing departments know that -this- is their last project, and that they might not even be getting paid for it is a sure way to make sure that there’s only three people showing up at the office on the last month before release. Definately not the way to get the best work for the game out of people.

On the upside, the three of us got to goof around a lot on the last few days. :wink:

Loom was a great game, back when.

I assume you mean Duke Nukem Forever? I think it would have to be released before it could be a failed videogame or you’re going to have to include all kinds of flotsam and jetsam.

Reading the entry for PacMan, you have to wonder what the hell they were thinking.

The Atari 2600 was released in 1977, so it’s had 6 years to sell. To sell that many cartiges, they’d have to assume both that the system itself was going to experience higher than lifetime average sales in its sixth year and that every single console owner was going to buy the game.

It boggles the mind.

Yep, Tara Floft had excellent squits.

I’ve read a couple of books about video game history, and I remember reading that estimates at Atari were that they were hoping that two million people would buy an Atari 2600 just so they could play Pac-Man at home. If the game hadn’t been programmed on the cheap, they probably might have been right.

Then again, not all of Atari’s moves back in the day were wise ones. One of the favorite anecdotes I’ve read is one involving an Atari game based on the Rubik’s Cube. One of the staffers at Atari thought this game would do poorly. His argument basically boiled down to “Explain to me how this $20 video game is better than the actual $3 cube I can take with me.” Nobody listened, of course, and the game sold horribly.

Admittedly I was like four years old when Pac-Man came out for my 2600…but what were the ‘cheap programming’ bits that one might have noticed?


I had it. And I certainly wasn’t four (urf).

It, um, failed to recreate the arcade experience in most ways. The graphics were weak, IMO (even for the 2600) and the maps and such weren’t the same.

And, most importantly, it just wasn’t as much fun.

Probably won’t be worth anything much. Keep it and get yourself a copy of Twisted: The Game Show. I went and bought a 3DO on eBay for that game (used to play it back in the day). I remember Road Rash being good too.

IIRC, Wing Commander III and Star Control II are both available for 3D0. That said, I have no idea if WCIII is good or not (the PC versions are great, the PSX version kinda sucked), and you can get the Windows 95 port of Star Control II for free online (The Ur Quan Masters)

Wing Commander III was great on the 3DO, if you had the joystick (which you can’t find anymore). Shockwave and Space Hulk were also pretty good. Sadly, there was no good RPG on the system.