You all must have read hundreds of listicles going over the best video games ever in different genres and niches.
But have you ever wondered what lies on the other side of the ditch?
Simply put, it’s a side you don’t want to cross over to, but must look at to appreciate the games we take for granted.
When I first came across the idea of compiling a list of the worst games ever, I thought it’d be an easy task; just hop on over to Metacritic and sort games by the worst reviews.
My goodness, that’s a hell that you don’t want to visit. There are so many atrocious games that you would have never heard about and, if you care about your playing habits, would not care about either.
For this list, we’ve compiled a list of games that either had a promising concept or were built around a well-known IP, but failed so miserably that they landed here on our list of the 23 Worst Games of All Time.
B̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶Worst Game of All Time
By now, the video game industry has learned two very important lessons:
- Using video games as promotional tools to sell movies or any other products is a bad idea.
- A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.
However, back in the 80s, such wisdom was unheard of. So, when ET was about to come out, Steven Spielberg thought a video game would be a good idea to boost the sales of the film.
So Spielberg reached out to Atari just 5 weeks ahead of the film’s release to talk about a tie-in game. There, he met with an equally daring man named, Howard Scott Warshaw, who took on the seemingly impossible task of making a video game in just 5 weeks to hit the markets before Christmas.
As you might have imagined, the whole production process was hell. The graphics were terrible and the gameplay was confusing as hell.
While playing a beta copy of the game, Spielberg pointed out all the flaws. However, Warshaw affirmed they would be ironed out by the final release.
Since Spielberg had already announced the game and Christmas was dawning close, Spielberg gave it a green flag despite all the drawbacks.
What followed was a huge disaster. None of the bugs or red flags of the beta version was ironed out by the release.
Atari sold less than 1.5 million copies, a huge disappointment compared to their targeted sales of 5 million copies.
Even out of the 1.5 million copies sold, a number were sent back as the players didn’t like the game. As a result, Atari buried millions of ET cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico.
In the coming years, ET stood as a shining example of how a video game ‘should NOT’ be made. If only all the developers paid heed to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial failure, we wouldn’t have to stretch this list out so long.
2. Bubsy 3D
Bubsy 3D was a game that dared to experiment with the new, cutting-edge technology but failed miserably.
Back in 1996, when consoles were a luxury and the graphics were 2D, Bubsy 3D took a leap into the realm of 3D after the success of Super Mario 64.
The premise was similar, Bubsy was an established platformer and wanted to get on the 3D train before the hoard.
The developers had dreamed big, but the uncontrollable camera and a totally powerless 3d engine swept over their hopes.
Furthermore, the textures were ugly and, unlike Mario, Bubsy was not quite popular as a mascot either. The game was so bad that it sent the entire series dormant for two years.
When Bubsy did come back in 2017 with Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, it was greeted with another commercial failure.
However, the devs still came back for redemption in 2019 with Bubsy: Paws on Fire, only to witness yet another failure.
So, essentially, Bubsy was such a huge failure that it dug the grave of its devs.
When you’ve got a license as holy as Looney Tunes, your game is bound to generate hype and catch interest, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to put in an effort to make the game.
Unfortunately, the devs of Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal didn’t get that point.
Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal had the potential to be the next Ratchet and Clank, thanks to its humor and wackiness.
Slap on a few characters as popular as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and you’ve got a GOTY competitor on your hands.
Instead, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal featured a forgettable story, horrific gameplay, and outdated graphics.
You may think I’m going hard on a decade-old game for graphics, but let’s not forget Crysis came out the same year.
Overall, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal was a poor use of a great license. Even those who did pick it up out of nostalgia never cared to finish it.
You must know how popular of a game Euro Truck Simulator is, right?
There’s no better feeling than cruising down the European countryside hauling cargo.
Well, the concept of a truck sim existed long ago as well, and it was called Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
The concept was fabulous on paper, “a truck racing sim in which players had to haul cargo across the US, avoiding the cops and out-speeding computer controller rivals.”
However, when the game came out, there was no cargo or cops and the rival trucks could not drive an inch off the start line.
So, it was basically just about driving a truck down the road with nothing at stake, and even the driving didn’t feel any good either.
In fact, you couldn’t even hit anything, thanks to a total lack of collision detection.
For years to come, Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing became the mascot of incomplete games.
5. Hotel Mario
When you hear about a Mario Game, it’s usually followed by a truck-worth of praise, unfortunately, that’s not the case here.
Released on the CDi, Philips first and the only console ever, Hotel Mario was one of the rare occasions when Nintendo let loose of its grip over Mario to cash in the profits.
Players controlled Mario and had to fight Princess Toadstool by going through seven hotels in the Mushroom Kingdom, with each hotel featuring its own unique boss.
The premise doesn’t sound so bad and the gameplay doesn’t deserve the ‘worst’ tag, but the game turned out to be a huge graphical disappointment and source of nightmares for generations to come.
Hotel Mario is hailed as the worst Mario game ever, partly because other Mario games were fabulous but mostly because Hotel Mario was simply so abysmal.
Another mishap of the Nintendo-Philips partnership for the CDi, Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon is hailed as the worst Zelda game.
Philips was not supposed to get the license to Zelda in the first place, but after a long and ugly legal battle for add-ons and rights, involving Sony and Sega, Nintendo gave away the rights to Zelda characters to Philips for CDi.
As soon as Philips procured the license to the game, it outsourced the entire project to a third-party developer and instructed them to use ‘ALL’ of CDi’s features, including FMV, high-resolution graphics, and CD-quality music.
As a result, the devs didn’t focus on including actually meaningful game mechanics. The result was a buggy game with technical limitations and iffy controls that went down in history as the worst Zelda game ever.
The tale of ‘Hotel Mario’ and ‘Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon’ isn’t the one that Nintendo likes to tell.
Instead, Nintendo has tried to remove all traces of their connection to such abysmal games, but that hasn’t gone too well.
Nonetheless, Nintendo learned its lesson and now maintains a firm grip over its IPs to produce high-quality games.
All the other games on the list had a concept on paper or at least some sort of good intention, it was the execution that was amiss.
Then there’s Custer’s Revenge, a game that was an absolute abomination from the conception of its idea all the way to its release.
You play as General Custer and race across the map while dodging arrows to rape native women tied up at the end of the map.
Rape is disgusting and Custer’s revenge was a disgrace to the gaming community.
Thankfully, the critics of that time thought alike and Custer’s Revenge received abominable reviews.
Now, it’s time to bury that chapter of gaming history and never dig it up again.
I can already hear the racing-sim fans marching towards me with pitch-forks in their hands, but I beg you to hear me out.
First things first, Forza Motorsport was a phenomenal racing game. It was the perfect mix of realism and accuracy. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the Kinect capabilities of the game.
When Xbox first came out with the Kinect in 2010, it was desperate to get more devs to build games for Kinect.
Since Playground Games, the studio behind Forza is the first-party studio of Xbox, they were probably forced to include some Kinect functionality in their game.
Some Kinect games, like Kinect Sports and Just Dance, were genuinely fun titles that could add some spice to a party. But most of the games were ‘wonky’.
Forza Motorsport 4’s Kinect mode essentially wanted you to raise your arm and drive the car with a ‘virtual’ air steering mode.
The concept was intriguing, but in practice, it was a total disaster. For starters, you had to keep your hands raised in front of the screen during the duration of the game and that’s not my definition of ‘fun’.
Since Kinect was nowhere near as accurate as a force steering wheel, the Kinect mode of Forza Motorsport was heavily assisted by software.
So you had no control over acceleration or braking and the turning was done mostly by the AI. At times, it felt like you had absolutely no control over the car.
Anyone of bought Forza Motorsport 4 did not spend much time with the Kinect.
If you check out Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery on Play Store or Apple iTunes, you’ll find it’s got an average rating of 4+ stars.
Now that may seem like a pretty good score for a game to be on the list of worst games of all time, but let me assure you that the reviews are deceptive!
Simply put, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a paid game wrapped in the skin of a free game. It’s the worst example of pay to win games.
Every action you do costs energy points. You get one energy point every half an hour, which poses such a huge hurdle to a smooth experience.
On the other hand, you can spend real-world money and buy energy points. The worst example of a pay-to-win mechanic was showcased early on in the game.
Your character was captured by Devil’s Snare. All your energy points were lost, rendering you unable to play any further.
The developers were questioned and criticized for the use of pay to win mechanics of the game, but they had the audacity to defend such an awful mechanic.
It would’ve been better off if the devs charged $60 for the game upfront.
Anthem is another example of how development crunch and pay-to-win mechanics can ruin a seemingly great game.
EA claimed that Anthem would be the next Destiny. The premise of the game was pretty interesting.
Players dawn on the persona of a Freelancer and go on heroic adventurers to protect their city from the atrocities that lie beyond the borders.
The center of the game of the exoskeletons, which you could customize and upgrade to suit your playstyle.
However, Anthem was an utter disappointment beyond its premise. For starters, the development cycle was utterly chaotic.
The Frostbite engine was not built to take on what the devs wanted to do with Anthem. Hundreds of developers left EA to escape Anthem.
Just a few weeks before the big E3 reveal, EA was forced to change the name of the game from ‘Beyond’ to Anthem due to trademark issues, which further dropped morale.
When the game was shipped, it was met with mostly negative feedback. GamesRadar+ said that “Anthem is ultimately severely flawed, and very unfinished.
There’s half a good game in there, but it doesn’t do enough to diminish the overall feeling of emptiness and repetition.”
If a purposeless story, shallow end-game, and a boring loot system weren’t enough, EA decided to add a ridiculous amount of microtransactions to the game.
It’s safe to say that Anthem was not the next Destiny, as EA had hoped. Even worse, the negative feedback forced EA to cancel Anthem 2.0 and bury BioWare’s worst chapter in gaming history forever.
When we round up the best games, we have a section dedicated to ‘honorable’ mentions for games that are pretty good, but not quite there to sit among the best.
Here, we have a section for the dishonorable mentions for games that are pretty bad, but not enough to be categorized as the worst.
1. Fallout 76
Fallout 76 aimed to turn the nuclear wasteland into a multiplayer sandbox. Bearing the name of an already established series and being Bethesda’s first multiplayer game, it had a lot of pressure on its shoulder.
Unfortunately, when the game came out, it did not live up to the hype. Fallout 76 was riddled with bugs to a point where it was literally unplayable.
The design and structure of the story did not align with Bethesda’s reputation.
Bethesda released a number of updates for Fallout 76 which greatly improved the gameplay, but it’s nowhere near the hype it promised. Fallout 76 is a permanent stain on Bethesda’s catalog.
Mass Effect Andromeda is another one of those games that do not deserve the tag of the worst game ever but are greatly underwhelming when put next to its predecessors.
The Mass Effect Trilogy was BioWare’s flagship IP, but Andromeda ruined it all. It all began with the production process itself, which was led by Bioware Montreal instead of BioWare’s Edmonton studio.
The game experienced a troubled development phase and a number of developers left the studio.
The end product, while enjoyable, was nowhere near the original Mass Effect Trilogy. Andromeda was full of technical bugs and facial animations that appeared to be a decade old.
Cyberpunk 2077 may not be the worst game of all time, but it’s definitely the biggest disappointment on the face of the gaming community.
Coming from the developers of Witcher 3, Cyberpunk was riding on almost a decade worth of hype. Now looking back, CDPR had promised too much in their promotional content and E3 demo.
I clearly remember that less than 24 hours from the launch, CDPR had put an embargo on media outlets to show any footage because apparently the devs were ‘still ironing out the bugs.’
Come the release day and the whole game was a mess. It was riddled with bugs,
textures were popping everywhere and the crowd density was nowhere near as dense as the marketing materials had promised.
Those were just the problems if you were running the game on a high-end RTX-powered PC. If you bought the game on a console, you essentially lost $60.
Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the worst marketing frauds in video game history. The most anticipated game of the decade was forgotten within 6 months of its release. It could’ve been good, but CDPR rushed the production.
CDPR has promised that they will be releasing constant updates throughout 2021 and the game will be better in 2022, provided you’re running it on a powerful gaming PC or the next-gen consoles. Till then, it’s best to stay away from Cyberpunk 2077.
What is the most hated video game?
The unfortunate title of the worst video game ever has to go to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. It was so bad that even Netflix featured it as the worst game ever in ‘High Score’, a 2020 documentary on the history of video games.
Over to you
So that was our run-down of the worst games ever made and a few dishonorable mentions. Have you played any of these games? How did it go?