There was a time when the games industry was a hive of creativity, with fresh, exciting ideas coming thick and fast. There’s still that element of creativity these days, but with money-hungry publishers running the show in a lot of cases, that creativity isn’t as at the forefront as it once was. Regardless of whether you’re in the AAA or indie sphere, there are plenty of cases of the industry doing something that makes literally no sense.
From colossal marketing failures to absurd peripherals, there are more than a few instances of parts of the industry doing something utterly ridiculous, so here are five that I was particularly fond of for how short-sighted the people involved must have been.
The Power Glove
The Power Glove was a neat idea that had absolutely no hope of being a worthwhile gaming device in the late 80s. It was a simplified version of the Dataglove and had the potential to use motion controls. On top of that, there were regular buttons on the wrist of the glove to allow for standard control inputs, as well some options to alter the input in a variety of ways. A great idea!
But by god was the execution a joke. There were only two games released that made use of its unique controls, and I believe they could be played with a regular controller anyway. The Power Glove could be used for any game of course, but you’d have to control it one handed if your other hand is inside the glove. Why did this need to exist?! And why was it so poorly supported?! Even the 32X had better support.
PSP Marketing Campaign
Ooooooh, boy. There’s short-sighted, and then there’s this marketing campaign. So Sony’s PSP was released in late 2004/early 2005 depending on where you lived. It was their foray into the portable gaming market, as well as having the option to watch movies on it using UMDs. Some of the games were pretty solid too! Yep, the little black portable gaming console was pretty good. So why not release a white version? Good idea! How should we advertise it?
Now, my blog isn’t really the place to get a discussion on racism, but by god is poor! A white woman aggressively clutching a black man’s face with the slogan ‘White is coming’ emblazoned on the banner. Did anyone spend even a minute thinking about this? It’s hardly Sony’s only poor taste advertising campaign either. From the rather off-feeling squirrel advert to the blatantly sexist PSVita ads, it seems Sony could do with a half-sane advertising team on hand.
Arham Knight’s PC Release
How in the name of hell did Batman: Arkham Knight release on PC in such a state. The console versions ran perfectly well, even if some people felt it was weaker than previous games in the series. The PC version though. That was broken beyond belief. Audio glitches, broken visual elements, framerate drops (in spite of the 30FPS lock) on even powerful computers. These sort of things shouldn’t have happened.
Now, I fully understand that different PCs will run games better than others due to the enormous number of combinations of hardware and software, but the number of people reporting a near on unplayable experience was pretty significant. I can’t imagine that Warner Bros. and Rocksteady weren’t aware of at least some of these issues. Still, it was released regardless, to about as good a reception from the PC gaming crowd as you might expect. Releasing in this state was sheer madness. Thankfully they took it down from sale and worked on an improved version, although even the re-release of it was far from perfect.
Various Game Adverts
I tried to narrow it down to just one or two, but there were so many! Most were from EA, but they were hardly the only culprit when it comes to just plain stupid advertising campaigns. Burnout 2‘s marketing campaign offered to pay your speeding fine if you were caught breaking the limit whilst driving to buy a copy of the game. Shadowman 2 offered to put adverts on the graves of your dead family members. EA hired fake protestors to promote the forthcoming Dante’s Inferno who claimed to be from Christian groups. Short-sighted, dumb, and in some cases offensive.
The one that annoyed me the most though, was the Dead Space 2 campaign that showed various mothers reacting to some of the graphic ways in which Isaac Clarke could die. They’ve clearly picked people who would react poorly to the graphic imagery and close out the advert with “Your mom hates Dead Space 2“. As far as I’m concerned this is just plain insulting to gamin generally. Don’t promote your game on the quality of it! Promote it on how edgy it is and how much it’ll piss off your stuck-in-the-past parents! Idiots. On top of everything else, it suggests that they were trying to promote the games to people who would be perhaps younger than the age rating on it, which is poor form to my mind. Screw this!
Announcing the Saturn Before Releasing 32X
Why would you do this?! You’re releasing a new add-on to your 16-bit console that will allow for 32-bit gaming! Fantastic! Some good games too by the looks of it. Nice work there. Ok, now how about you announce that your real 32-bit console, the Saturn, will release in Japan on the same day as the US-release of your new peripheral…
To put this together, Sega released their new console and a peripheral for their 16-bit would be released on the same day. This was damaging to both systems (moreso the 32X of course) and, in the words of then Sega of America producer Scot Bayless, made Sega “look greedy and dumb to consumers”. It’s almost as bad as Microsoft saying that people without internet had a great alternative to the Xbox One in the form of the Xbox 360. People are clever…
I was quite tempted to go into the ridiculously misleading Dead Island trailer, or how crazy the release of a TV tuner for the Game Gear was, but I only have so much time for writing. What crazy things have you seen the games industry do in their every growing need to claw at every penny available? Let me know! There must be a few fun ones.