8 Biggest Video Game Disappointments of 2019
2019 was a memorable year in games: Sony and Microsoft revealed the first details about their next-gen hardware. Google threw its hat in the game-streaming ring with Stadia. Kojima released his first post-Konami game. Microsoft acquired beloved studio Double Fine. Bungie went indie. And mainline Pokemon came to console for the first time. All in all, this year provided excitement for all types of gamers on all types of platforms.
But littered throughout those moments of joy were duds, delays, and decisions that left us feeling a bit down. Click through the gallery below or continue scrolling for our list of 2019’s biggest video game disappointments.Biggest Video Game Disappointments of 20198. WWE 2K20Since taking over the official WWE license in 2013, 2K has been consistent with its annual release of quality wrestling games. Until this year’s WWE 2K20, that is.As the first line in IGN’s review reads, “WWE 2K20 is a mess.” Even more egregious than its litany of bugs and glitches and “PS2-era” character models, is the “woefully outdated” gameplay and worsened collision detection and targeting systems. Its severe dip in quality is a massive disappointment for fans who look forward to the year’s only licensed WWE game.Behind the scenes, 2K ended its partnership with longtime WWE developer Yuke’s, making 2K20 its first WWE game developed solely by Visual Concepts.7. Crackdown 3It may be hard to remember, but there was a period of time in which enthusiasm for Crackdown 3 was high. That sentiment existed around Crackdown 3’s E3 2014 reveal, when Microsoft showcased a next-gen take on the cult-classic series, featuring a cooperative open-world with large-scale, cloud-powered destructible environments.That destruction was only possible thanks to Microsoft’s expansive cloud infrastructure, which reportedly allowed Crackdown 3 to leverage the computing power of 20 standard Xbox Ones. It was a truly “next-gen” concept, and expectations were set accordingly high.Then came the years of intermittent silence, a series of delays, and continuous poor showings at conventions. These warning signs softened the eventual blow of disappointment, but we still wonder what Crackdown 3 could have been had Microsoft been able to execute on that original premise.When it finally launched in February, Crackdown 3 was panned by critics. IGN’s Crackdown 3 review gave it a 5, calling its gameplay “rarely satisfying busywork” and noting how the promised cloud-powered destruction is “never used to great effect.”6. Sony Skips E3Between its now-famous “game sharing” video in 2013, Final Fantasy VII Remake reveal in 2015, and the entirety of its 2016 show — during which Days Gone, Death Stranding, God of War, and Marvel’s Spider-Man were all announced — Sony made a name for itself as this generation’s most consistently exciting and unpredictable E3 presenter. So, naturally, it was a massive bummer when the company announced it would be skipping the expo in 2019.In addition to missing out on potential reveals and closer looks at its upcoming lineup — The Last of Us Part II and Ghosts of Tsushima, to name two — Sony’s absence begat the absence of E3’s most compelling drama: PlayStation vs. Xbox. Yes, console wars are trivial, but there’s a theater to E3, and at the heart of that theater is a heavyweight showdown between two of the world’s biggest names in games. Even Xbox head Phil Spencer said E3 “is not as good” without PlayStation.It’s unclear if PlayStation will be back for E3 2020, but with PS5 launching next Holiday, we’d be surprised not to see it return — and for the sake of the expo, we hope it does.5. Reggie Retires from NintendoReggie Fils-Aime introduced himself on the gaming world’s biggest stage at E3 2004 by saying, “My name is Reggie. I’m about kickin’ ass, I’m about takin’ names, and we’re about makin’ games.” What followed is what Nintendo fans call the “Reggielution,” a turning point for the company and its public image led by its new executive vice president of sales and marketing.Three years later, the new face of Nintendo’s American arm was named president and COO, a position he would hold for nearly 13 years, before retiring in April.Reggie is credited as a pivotal player in the success of Nintendo throughout the 2000s. His keen business sense helped Wii and DS become two of the all-time best-selling consoles; his charisma, humility, and overall positivity brought renewed enthusiasm to Nintendo fandom.Though we were disappointed to see him go, Reggie’s departure did give way to the most aptly named video game executive of all time, Doug Bowser.4. Big Game DelaysWe’ve come to accept delays as a necessary part of game development. As an oft-cited Miyamoto quote goes, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is bad forever.”However, that doesn’t make delays any less disappointing, and 2019 had some big ones.The Last of Us 2, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Every Game Delayed in 2019Among the most notable gamed delayed out of 2019 were Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2019 to March 20, 2020), Doom Eternal (November 22 to March 20, 2020), Wasteland 3 (2019 to Spring 2020), and Psychonauts 2 (2019 to 2020). And while it was never slated as a 2019 game, The Last of Us Part II was pushed from February to May 2020, making the wait for the already long-awaited sequel even longer.These delays may have bred disappointment this year, but on the bright side, they give us plenty to look forward to as we roll into 2020.3. Fallout 76’s Subscription ServiceWhen Bethesda announced it was taking its beloved single-player franchise online, fans were skeptical. When the lead-up to its release was marred by controversy and poor communication, fans were frustrated. When it was released with myriad bugs and server issues, fans were angry. Then, when Bethesda revealed its $13/month or $100/year premium subscription service called Fallout 1st, the fandom hit its breaking point.The subscription service — which, at its monthly rate, costs more than Netflix’s base package, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, or PlayStation Now — provides access to few, relatively unsubstantial features: private servers, unlimited storage for crafting components, a placeable fast travel point, in-game currency, outfits, and emotes.It’s hard to pinpoint what’s most disappointing about Fallout 1st: Locking features behind a subscription service in a game that already requires an entry fee? The absurdity of its pricing structure compared to similar services? The lack of substantial content provided to those who do pay? Take your pick.Fallout 76 was undoubtedly one of 2018’s biggest disappointments, and thanks to its poorly realized subscription service, it’s back as our sole repeat entry in 2019.Anthem was bound to go one of two ways: Option 1) It’d usher in a new age of BioWare RPGs that mix the excellent writing and gameplay systems of its past with the shared-world shooter genre of the future. Option 2) Taking a BioWare RPG online would dilute what made its previous games great and result in a lackluster identity crisis.Shortly after its launch in February, it was clear which camp Anthem had landed in.Further, in a move that was as necessary as it was disappointing, BioWare announced it was abandoning Anthem’s original post-launch content plan, which featured narrative-focused “Acts,” opting instead to address its “core issues.”It would have been nice to see BioWare and EA’s experiment pay off, considering its place in an industry where financial burdens and unreasonable sales expectations make risk-taking near impossible. But it missed the mark, and the result was the most disappointing game of 2019.1. Blizzard Bans BlitzchungIt’s not often a company in the games space has the opportunity to make a meaningful statement on a global crisis. So when Blizzard squandered that opportunity following Hearthstone player Blitzchung’s public support of Hong Kong, it was a disappointment that, comparatively, makes every other entry on this list trifling.A quick refresher: Hearthstone Grandmasters competitor Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung voiced his support for the Hong Kong protests during a post-match interview. Blizzard responded by banning Blitzchung from Hearthstone esports for a year, rescinding his prize money, and announcing its plans to “immediately cease working” with the casters who conducted the interview. (Blitzchung’s punishment has since been reduced to six months and Blizzard has agreed to pay out his winnings.)The Blizzard China Controversy ExplainedThe backlash was severe: Community members, pro players, casters, game industry professionals, Blizzard employees, and even United States lawmakers expressed their disapproval of the company’s judgment, causing #BoycottBlizzard to trend across social media.Blizzard eventually offered an apology, by way of president J. Allen Brack, who said the company “moved too quickly in [its] decision making” and too slowly in its response to the community’s concerns.Though the gaming world seems to have largely moved on, the Blizzard-Blitzchung saga highlights the still-present, ever-growing issue of media’s (South Park excluded) conciliatory attitude toward China and its stringent censorship. In a follow-up interview with IGN, Brack was clearly understanding of and receptive to the criticism, though he didn’t address if Blizzard’s interest in the Chinese market played into its decision. His apology seemed sincere, but frankly, the damage had already been done, and with Blitzchung still banned from competitive play, the disappointment toward Blizzard’s response remains as valid today as it was in early October.
Jordan is a freelance writer for IGN.