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Top 5 Biggest Video Game Failures

Updated on August 4, 2011

Video Games are a multi-billion dollar industry but just like any industry, there are bound to be blunders. This hub is dedicated to games that didn't make the cut. The video games that have gone down as the biggest flops in history.

These are the top five biggest video game failures in history.

Pac-Man (for the Atari 2600)

Everyone has fond memories of playing Pac-Man for the first time. The premise is simple, you pilot Pac-Man through a maze, eating up everything in your path and trying not to be caught by ghosts. The premise was simple but it sold like hot-cakes especially in the golden age of arcades.

Atari had the brilliant idea of porting the Pac-Man game over to their Atari 2600 system which, at the time, was a great idea if it wasn’t for the fact that it was rushed and looked like utter crap compared to the arcade version. Although the game sold nearly 7 million copies, people felt “burned” by Atari and a backlash was in order through relentless bad reviews to the company. Much like E.T., Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 would be one of the big elements that would lead to the video game crash in 1983.


John Romero is a legend in the gaming world; he’s one of the main guys behind ID Software and was the brain behind a title you most definitely know, Doom. Romero shifted focus on video game development toward a new project named Daikatana which would go down as one of the biggest flops and disappointments in video game history.

Daikatana was plagued with over-spending on the development budget and frequently delays. The game started to build up a massive hype because, after all, it’s being created by the man behind Doom. However, upon release it was hit with utter disappointment from the critics as it was riddled with bugs and broken features. Before long, Daikatana was hailed as a massive flop and become one of those games that you cringe at whenever someone mentions it.

Anything on Virtual Boy

I didn’t originally want to add a video game console to the list but it’s because of the failure of Virtual Boy that EVERY game on the system goes down as a colossal failure in my book.

For those that never got to “enjoy” that wonder that was Virtual Boy, let me give you an example. The Virtual Boy was pure eye torture every minute as you stared into an uncomfortable machine that displayed black and red graphics that put your eyes on fire after five minutes of game play.

System aside, the Virtual Boy was like the Atari 2600 of portable systems. The graphics were uglier than you could imagine and the game play, if you call it that, was lacking just about everything that made video games fun. In short, the Virtual Boy and all of the games associated with it, definitely go down as one of the biggest flops in video game history – take all those games and throw ‘em in the trash.


It pains me to say that Okami was a commercial flop because it’s one of those truly amazing games that didn’t get the recognition that it deserves. However, speaking in numbers, the game underperformed in sales and goes down on our list.

Okami is a beautiful game, so much so that it won an award in the Guinness Book of Word Records as the "least commercially successful winner of a game of the year”. Despite all of the critical acclaim for the game, it still only sold 500,000 copies which wasn’t enough to make up for its excellent game play and graphics.

Sorry Okami, although you’re beautiful and fun, you get a spot this list of biggest video game failures.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

And the winner for the biggest video game flop in history goes to none other than the ill-received, turd that is E.T. the Exra-Terrestrial. This game is infamous for being horrifically bad. Based on the movie by the same name, this game was rushed to the market in short order to hit the shelves by holiday season. However, what buyer’s weren’t expecting was perhaps the biggest piece of video game garbage they ever got their hands on; in fact, it’s one of the reasons why gaming nearly died!

Atari was so sure that the E.T. game was going to sell that they created over 5 million copies to be sold. Unfortunately, only about 1.5 million did and many of those were sent back to the developer because it was just so down-right painful to play. Millions of the E.T. games were buried in the New Mexico desert which has taken on a tale of its own. The game was such a huge flop that it put Atari in debt near half a billion dollars which lead to the company filing for bankruptcy and eventually dissolving and being sold off.

So, what did we learn?

If there's anything to learn out of this list is that rushing a video game to market and trying to play on people's love of a character, movie or brand is quick way to bust your company. Although we all have big expectations from these well known companies, there are still times when they strike out. Unfortunately, sometimes the failures happen to games that are really amazing but that's just the nature of the game (get it ... game, har har har).

What do you think about these video game failures?

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    • joawmeens profile image

      joawmeens 6 years ago from Hopewell, Ohio

      Duke. Nukem. Forever.

      It could have sold 30 million copies, and it still wouldn't have made up for the 15 year development cycle.

      And it does suck that Okami was on there, I like that game a lot.

      Great hub

    • The Odd Spartan profile image

      Christopher Rago 6 years ago from Hamilton, NJ

      Great Hub. This is why Movie-based video games fail. They are rushed, unpolished, no attention to detail 'games' that devs make to make a quick buck off of you. The saddest part about that is it's never going to stop. Up/Awesome.