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Top 10 Biggest Video Game Business Failures, The One That Sunk Their Studios

In video game history, a number of original creations, or less epic sequels, have been a real blow to video game development studios. We invite you to discover video games that may (or may not) have been successful but quickly burned their wings. We would have liked to quote them all, but this article would have been way too long. Here are, in our opinion, the 10 biggest commercial mistakes made by video games that caused great damage to their own studio and that should have earned their place in the Museum of Failure.


Mine Storm is the game built into Vectrex, the home console that General Conumer Electric is launching. The console was also sold in Europe by MB in 1982. The console was somewhat appealing in that it had its own screen (so it didn’t need to be connected to a TV) and was still quite easy to transport. The price wasn’t unreasonable either, as it was available at a price of $ 199 (then in US dollars, which is around 383 euros today). There isn’t much to complain about in terms of the game either, as it was a shoot ’em up similar to Asteroids. Unfortunately, the timing worked against the console, which arrived in the middle of the video game crisis. MB will sell prices by lowering the console from $ 199 to $ 150 before dropping to $ 100. After all, any unsold products are sold to a completely different company so they can become slot machines.

Result: vectrex likely did not show up at the right time, leading to the commercial failure we know of and MB’s final withdrawal from the video game market. Some things are unfair. Currently, Mine Storm is considered to be one of the rarest video games.

# 2 Uru: Age Beyond Myst

First, let’s say that Uru: Ages Beyond Myst isn’t a bad game. On the other hand, the sales were particularly disappointing. This is the fourth installment in the popular Myst series that came out in 2003. Uru: Ages Beyond Myst was developed by Cyan Worlds and took a long time, no less than five years and $ 12 million very accurately! The game’s reviews have been largely positive and the game has been well received. However, sales never decreased.

Result: 78,329 games were sold in North America in 2003 (although the game sold slightly more in the following years), far from the sales of the first three games (totaling 12 million sales). This commercial failure contributed to the virtual closure of the Cyan worlds, which however recovered in the years that followed.

# 3 Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3

John Romero, one of the creators of Doom, embarked on a very big adventure in 1996: starting his own development studio. The studio in question is called Ion Storm. The first title released by the studio will be Dominion, a real-time strategy game. The game was originally developed by 7th Level but was purchased by Ion Storm for $ 1.8 million. The project originally had a budget of USD 50,000 and should be completed in three months with two employees. Unfortunately not everything went as planned. Due to the poor management and total inexperience of the Ion Storm studio, the project lasted over a year and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dominion finally saw the light of day in July 1998. Critics didn’t praise the game, far from it, and very few copies of the game ended up being phased out.

Result: The withdrawal of several members of the development team and a first serious financial failure for Ion Storm, who, however, will experience the debacle with Daikatana, as we will see later.


After the release and success of the game Full Throttle, Tim Schafer, the famous video game designer, is considering developing a new point and click video game whose universe will be inspired by the Day of the Dead. With LucasArt he can realize his project by giving him a budget of 3 million dollars. The game is experiencing a very slight delay that allows it to be completed correctly and especially published on the Day of the Dead. Despite very good reviews, the game is far from achieving the expected success, especially since point and click games are no longer of interest to many people.

Result: very good reviews, but a real commercial failure, with 95,000 copies sold in 5 years. LucasArt will close most of its point and click studios.

# 5 uDraw Studio

To play Udraw Studio, a game where you have to show off your drawing skills, you need to purchase the Udraw tablet, a type of graphics tablet that was developed for the Wii in 2010. The first few months of sales are pretty good. The THQ, which publishes the game, decides to invest and publish the game on other consoles, namely the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. However, THQ vastly overestimates the number of potential buyers and produces 1.7 million graphics tablets.

The result: a failure of $ 80 million (not least because the tablets were bought so little that the majority sold at a loss), which is believed to be the main cause of the company going bankrupt in 2012.


The adventure video game The Last Express was published in 1997 under the direction of Jordan Mechner, who wanted to develop an avant-garde game whose story takes place in real time on the Orient Express. Jordan Mechner founded Smoking Car Productions, a San Francisco-based video game development studio. It took no less than $ 6 million to create The Last Express, a significant sum for the time. Despite good reviews, the game’s publisher, Brøderbund, only offers a very basic, if not far too minimalist, advertisement for the game that doesn’t wow the crowd.

Result: 100,000 copies sold, Jordan Mechner had to close his studio Smoking Car Productions and Brøderbund was bought by The Learning Company in 1998.

# 7 ET the alien

In 1982 Atari decided to develop and publish ET The Extra-terrestrial (also called ET), a video game that ET can be played in, with a story that uses elements and the original plot of the film. The game is developed in just 5 weeks and the first sales figures are promising with 1.5 million copies sold. Unfortunately, gamers don’t really like the game’s gameplay. Despite good reviews when it was released, the game becomes a commercial failure.

Result: 4 million cartridges produced and $ 25 million that Atari spent on acquiring the customization rights. Some people believe that ET was largely responsible for the video game crash in 1983, but it has more to do with the large number of games released that were just pale copies of good games. The supply at the time clearly exceeded the demand. As evidence of this further failure, Atari amassed losses of $ 536 million in late 1983.


In 1997, 3D Realms announced a sequel to the then popular game Duke Nukem 3D. Duke Nukem Forever, the sequel, is a first-person shooter that took a long, long time to see the light of day. Production of the game began in January 1997 and continued until May 6, 2009 when the 3D Realms studio was declared bankrupt (however, that bankruptcy was later rejected by the studio). Take2, their publisher, then sued 3D Realms for inability to perform the contract for the game. On September 3, 2010, 2K Games announced that Gearbox Software had resumed development of the game. After a final report announced by Gearbox, the game was finally released on June 10, 2011.

Result: The game already had bad press and only sold 300,000 times in the first month of sales. 2K Games goes so far as to sell the game for 10 euros in order to sell all of its stocks. The Duke Nukem franchise has thus received damage that is certainly irreparable.


The Atari 2600 certainly talked a lot, but in 1982 Atari is no longer alone in the video game field. The Atari 5200 was born with the game Super Breakout, the console’s starting game. This is a brick breaker game, but the game isn’t really the problem here. The failure of Super Breakout is actually more down to the console than the game itself. Indeed, the console has very inconvenient controllers that have many problems including quick failure. The aforementioned gaming crisis and console’s bad reputation will make Super Breakout a real failure.

Result: a bitter commercial failure and a hasty end due to the collapse of the gaming market. Atari will wait 4 years before a new console, the 7800, hits the market.

# 10 Daikatana

The game, which was first announced for Christmas 1997, won’t be released until summer 2000. Its development was a real disaster: it exhausted 5 chief programmers and a development team that consists of an average of 14 hours a day. 20 people (who were renewed no less than three times), resulting in several mutinies and dismissals. Development has therefore cost a small fortune. Unfortunately, the success of its release was far from being achieved and so this previous debacle was unable to catch up. It must be said that the game’s advertising campaign was based entirely on Romero’s reputation, with vulgar slogans like “John Romero will make you his slut” or “John Romero will make you his slut”. The game itself was also out of date (apart from a few major bugs) and quickly gained a very bad reputation.

Result: 200,000 copies sold. Ion Storm will permanently close its doors in 2005.


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