They also failed at first but grew to become icons
The path to success is always met with a series of failures, and the gaming world is no exception. Not every game series started with a major hit that redefined the industry but instead had a rocky start. However the development team learned from their mistake and followed it with a more successful title.
The following are more examples of five major games that failed at first but the creators worked to learn from their mistakes.
5. Alien during the Seventh Generation
During the late 90’s and up until the early 2000’s, any game based on the Alien series was a winning formula. With iconic titles like Alien Trilogy and Aliens Online to the Aliens vs. Predator titles, fans loved any title that allowed them to kill xenomorphs. The last few movies may have been crap but at least the games provided a satisfaction.
Then Sega bought the game rights to the series and what followed was a series of disastrous titles. The Aliens vs. Predator reboot was a mediocre title that failed to live up to its predecessors but was still better than the awful movies. Aliens: Colonial Marines followed shortly and it could only be described as a dumpster fire of a title. By the time Alien: Isolation was announced, many already expected another train wreck.
Having learned from the mistakes of the last two failures and with a genre that has become over saturated, Sega along with Creative Assembly decided to make a horror survival based on the original vision of Sir. Ridley Scott. The game is set 15 years after the original film and follws Amanda Ripley searching for clues about her missing mother aboard a space station infested with a Xenomorph. Unique for such a game was the players need to use stealth and their wits to survive.
Alien: Isolation literally did remind gamers that in space nobody can hear them scream by going back to the series horror roots. The game was highly praised by critics and fans of the franchise while receiving multiple awards. Today it’s hailed as one of the most iconic horror titles made while having perfected the concept of the first-person horror survival.
Watch_Dogs was suppose to be a new take on the open-world crime genre that attempts to combine elements of stealth and puzzle solving into a techno thriller. The game required players to work with the environment to overcome challenges and obstacles while using their skills to outwit their opponent.
Yet when Watch_Dogs was released in 2014, many were not that impressed with the overall result. Critics did modestly praise it but gamers were disappointed in what they felt was a bland title that offered nothing new while stuffed with almost every Ubisoft trope. This was due to how the game was over-hyped while having been released a few months after Grand Theft Auto V.
The game had many potentials but was poorly executed due to the hype and the poor timing of the release. At the same time, Ubisoft was undergoing an image problem following a series of botched releases (similar to EA). Ubisoft looked at the mistakes they made and worked to rebuild the trust of their fans. Between 2015 until now, Ubisoft has had several major hits with little to no problem.
These lessons also applied to Watch_Dogs 2 which was an improvement from its predecessor. The game featured a more likable hero along with an improved gameplay mechanics and a better story. Even with no delays, the game was highly praised by fans and critics upon its release.
3. 007 under EA
Back when Electronic Arts had the gaming rights to the 007 franchise, it was an era of trial and error before a winning formula was developed. Even though they had a stellar reputation for publishing quality titles, the early games were always struggling to escape the shadow of 007 GoldenEye. The first game EA published was 007 Tomorrow Never Dies, a third person action title based on the movie. It was just another tie-in game that was met with mediocre reviews but too many critics were using 007 GoldenEye as a comparison. The games overall failuer would result in EA attempting mimic the success of 007 GoldenEye with a series of first-person shooters.
The World is Not Enough was the first such title and to some degree it was a success on the N64 while the PlayStation version was met with mediocre reviews. EA felt they had a winning formula but it didn’t last long as other titles that followed failed to achieve the same success. 007 Agent Under Fire and 007 Nightfire were both met with mostly modest reviews while GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was panned for trying to ride the coattails of the N64 classic. At this point it was obvious that EA needed a new plan with the 007 franchise, so what was the solution? The answer was obviously stop trying to be 007 GoldenEye and instead present a unique James Bound experience.
The first test came with 007: Everything or Nothing, an original title that brought the style of the films within the context of a third person adventure. This was made possible by a story written by Bruce Feirstein (who also co-wrote the screenplay for GoldenEye) along with an original song performed by Mýa. Most important of all was the stellar cast that included Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Judi Dench as M, John Cleese as Q, Willem Dafoe as Nikolai Diavolo and the return of Richard Kiel as Jaws. The gamble paid-off as the game was hit among fans while EA now has a winning formula.
EA would use the same formula once again to create a video game remake of From Russia with Love, the most iconic film in the series. The game tweaked the classic (due to not having the rights to SPECTER), recreated the essence of a 1960’s Bond films while even bring back Sir Sean Connery to play James Bond. From Russia with Love was also a success but would also be the last 007 title made by EA before the rights were passed on to Activision.
2. A First-Person Resident Evil
Capcom has had a murky track record when it comes to First-Person Resident Evil titles. Resident Evil: Survivor was panned for having taken away the feeling of vulnerability that is associated with horror survival while being too slow paced to be a shooter. Its follow up, Survivor 2 Code: Veronica had many of the same issues and was not even released in North America. Resident Evil: Dead Aim tried to find a balance between being a first-person title while keeping the horror elements but it also was met with mediocre reviews.
Capcom abandoned the concept of a first-person Resident Evil and attempted to make the series more appealing to a greater audience. Resident Evil 4 found this balance while 5 and 6 became more action orientated. This new direction began to upset fans as the series abandoned its horror roots just to appeal to the casual market. The demand for a return to its roots was further demonstrated by the success of Resident Evil HD and Zero HD.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard presented an opportunity to return the series to its roots while giving the first person exsperince another try. By taking the lessons learned from other titles like Alien: Isolation and the Silent Hills demo, Capcom presented a nightmare that was both fresh but also familiar for the fans.
This gamble paid-off even before the game was released as The Beginning Hour demo was downloaded over 2 million times via PlayStation Network in the first week while the actual game became the most highly anticipated title of 2017. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was highly praised for its return to the horror genre while becoming one of the fastest selling titles of 2017.
1. Spec Ops
Right now you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how did this make the list when Spec Ops: The Line was an obvious masterpiece. Unless you’re an old school gamer, chances are you were never aware that Spec Ops was once a series. The games were nothing more then a Rainbow Six knock-off that would always go straight to the bargain bin after launch.
The last game in the series was released in the early 2000’s and Spec Ops would have been lost to time had it not been for Spec Ops: The Line. When the game was first announced, many gamers were quick to brush it off as a cheap cash grab. Nobody expected it to have a story that would one day be compared with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater or The Last of Us.
Many may have not though much of Spec Ops: The Line but it became the biggest surprise of 2012 when it was nominated for a number of awards. The game was nominated for best Shooter and Best Gaming Moments at the 2012 Golden Joystick Awards while having won the award for Best Narrative and was nominated for Best Game Cinematography at the 2012 Inside Gaming Awards.
2012 was also a big year in gaming as several major titles were released around the same time that raised the bar for storytelling. Spec Ops: The Line was among these title that help redefine storytelling in gaming.
The moral of the story is that everyone will fail, but a successful person or company can and will learn from their mistakes. Check out our first list here if you feel there was a game that was missed.
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