Top Ten Most Disappointing Video Games of All Time

Last updated: 5/12/2024
7 minutes read

Hype in gaming is a natural part of how the industry operates. Marketers can be immensely skilled, and prerelease gameplay footage can set expectations sky-high. Sometimes, games live up to this hype and become certified classics and game of the year contenders. Sometimes the promises are shown to be just that, resulting in buyer's remorse and lost faith in a developer and publisher.

On this page, we want to explore examples of the latter, of titles that failed to meet expectations and became the most disappointing games of our time. Of course, your top ten disappointing games might be different, but for the general market, the following titles will not be forgotten.

Top 10 most disappointing games


Daikatana is one of the earliest examples of games that produced an enormous amount of hype for arguably good reason. Helmed by John Romero, one of the primary figures behind Doom, Daikatana was to be his magnum opus. The genius of Romero in his new studio was unbound, as he was finally free to develop the game of his dreams…

After years of delays and major engine changes, Daikatana was released as a glitchy title with some underwhelming and unwelcoming intro levels. Partially the product of ego, and partially the fault of trying to build a cutting-edge game in a time of rapidly evolving tech, Daikatana became a warning many developers should have paid more attention to.

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is arguably the second-most-hyped space MMO ever, right after Star Citizen (hello future entry?). No Man’s Sky was constantly overpromising, and backed by fantastic early footage, players bought in. The release then utterly failed to meet expectations, lacking many promised features. Fortunately, No Man’s Sky would eventually become one of gaming’s biggest redemption stories, having evolved into one of the most popular titles of today.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Gaming has produced no shortage of Alien games, some of which are especially good. Despite the hype from front-man Randy Pitchford, Aliens: Colonial Marines was not one of these games. Colonial Marines was ugly, the controls were awful, and the ostensible canon story left Alien fans feeling betrayed. Even worse, later investigation would prove much of the poor AI was the result of a simple fixable typo in the code, but by that time it was too little too late.

Fallout 76

Fallout games have enjoyed a mixed reception since they moved to 3D. While the original two are considered some of the best RPGs ever, Fallout 3 and 4 were more hotly debated. Enter Fallout 76, an attempt by Bethesda to bring Fallout into the online space. 

As is typical from Bethesda, promises were overwhelming, and delivery failed to meet expectations. The game featured significant technical issues, the role-playing elements were undercooked, and the wasteland leaned perhaps too far into its emptiness. The end product makes us nervous about the future of the franchise, which is never a good place to be.

Duke Nukem Forever

Another title from Gearbox, the team behind Aliens: Colonial Marines, and another disappointment. Despite having some of the most famous gaming quotes (albeit many of them lifted from other media), Duke Nukem didn't enjoy much success after the first three games. Stuck in development for 14 years, Duke Nukem Forever delivered uninspired gameplay and an outdated story with humor that no longer played. This disappointment might have been better off with a DNF.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition

GTA games ever since 3 have routinely found a place among the top-grossing games of all time thanks to their open-world carnage and humor. This rerelease of the three famous PS2 games disappointed with strange bugs, ugly graphical upscaling, and a lack of respect for the original properties. Even stranger, these 2021 updates offered terrible performance for titles that the PlayStation 2 could run just fine back in 2004!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5

The first seven Tony Hawk’s games on PS1 and PS2 were some of the most reliably trending games of their era. These were a microcosm of what made gaming at the time great. Players celebrated the new millennium, extreme sports, and fantastic music all while smoothly dropping combos and looking like skating gods. 

THPS 5, coincidentally rushed out right before Activision's exclusivity deal with the property expired, offered terrible performance, unreliable gameplay, and a bad smear on the original's name. At least THPS 1+2 would eventually recover some goodwill.

SimCity (2013)

Sim City was the title responsible for the city-building game craze when it was released in 1989. For a long time, it stayed the king of the genre, and fans were excited for 2013's reboot. 'Mandatory' online which was later found to be unnecessary and glitchy, terrible performance, and poor launch availability all left a bad taste in player’s mouths with this one. 

If you're a city management fan who is all too underserved these days, we wouldn't blame you for graduating this to one of your top 5 disappointing games. We'd say at least Cities: Skylines delivered, but its recent sequel almost took this title's spot on our list.


What could be cooler than donning a robot suit and flying around like Iron Man while blasting enemies? Well, how about gameplay that wasn’t just a shallow and grinding loop? Anthem was a highly anticipated release from BioWare and Electronic Arts that suffered from mismanagement and a lack of direction that resulted in a disappointing final release. The game’s failure led to all future updates being abandoned, and paying players left holding their empty wallets with nothing to show for it.

Mass Effect 3

The first three Mass Effect games were some of the biggest hits of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation. A true space opera that leaned heavily into player choice, players were promised an end to the trilogy that lived up to their decisions and actions through the games and the years. 

What they received was a choice between three colors and not much else, with BioWare even going back to add more to the ending cutscenes. With the games delivering so much engagement up until this point, the ending hurt so much more, sending a series that was so well-loved off on a sour note. Let’s not even begin with Andromeda’s later addition to the series.

Most Recent Disappointing Games

Not to be outdone by the blunders of the past, the last months hit players with a slew of hilariously disappointing games. That is unless you dropped real money on these lacking titles, in which case you'll be forgiven for not finding them so funny. 

Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Lord of the Rings games tend to perfect better than many media translations, but there are always some that find themselves at the lower end of the spectrum. Gollum is one such game, as an ugly, glitchy, and overpriced release that is universally disappointing. Just like what happened to the creature that used to be Smeagol, Gollum is a sad reminder of what could have been.

Skull Island: Rise of Kong

We've talked above about the games that built high expectations only to drag players down with the final result. Rise of Kong took a bold new approach, setting expectations low and yet somehow still finding a way to disappoint. Do yourself a favor, and don't buy this one even as a joke.

Overwatch 2

The first Overwatch took the world by storm as it extended Team Fortress-style FPS characterization to a new level. It then slowly and surely lost fans as poor design decisions compounded, right up to the release of Overwatch 2. Another victim of the prior entry's success, Overwatch 2 made players mourn for the zombified remains of one of gaming's former kings.

Discover the Most Influential Video Game Titles

The most influential titles in gaming aren't just those that do everything right. While the most popular games do tend to be the ones that do things best, just as important are the titles that let players down. The most recent popular games were ones that borrowed what worked from successful titles, while also avoiding the mistakes of their failed contemporaries.

Games finding form through success stories and failures has always been a key part of how the ecosystem operates. Whether looking at the best iOS, Android, or even the best PC games, each needs to look at the big picture. With so many moving parts in modern gaming, this can be a test even the biggest gaming companies can fail.

In a way, this means we also have to be thankful for what disappointing games contribute to the market. The iOS, Android, and PC games we enjoy today aren't made in a vacuum, and every time one game flies too close to the sun, it gives another a chance to find its wings.