Video games, these days, are an art form. The people that craft them use it as a form of expression. Maybe they have an idea they want to get out. Perhaps there's a message they feel that they need to communicate. However you look at it, there's something for everybody with video games.
However, video games are also a business and industry. Sometimes a well-marketed terrible game will sell better than a great game marketed poorly. Quality doesn't always translate into success and that's something that many companies have to keep in mind.
Over the years, there have been many games to come out and shatter records. They've surpassed expectations or delivered on the hype that they promised. These are the games that bring in all of the sales. These are the games that you'll be playing for a long time (for the most part, that is).
On the flip side, there are many games that fall short of everything they set out to do. Regardless of whether the game is good or bad, something led to it not performing well in terms of sales and be forgotten as a result. These are the games we'll be looking at today.
While it's difficult to pinpoint which games are the lowest-grossing of all time (for reasons beyond my understanding), we've amassed a list of games that are known for being failures on the market.
15 Epic Mickey: The Power of Two
The first Epic Mickey game was a popular entry on the Wii, which quickly told the developers that a sequel was necessary. Epic Mickey: The Power of Two came out on the Wii U and underperformed, to say the least.
This isn't a case where the game didn't get the sales it deserved, though. Epic Mickey: The Power of Two is an unfinished game. It's plagued by terrible framerate, unintuitive controls, long animations, and too many bugs to count. The lack of sales it received caused the developers of the game to go out of business and the title itself was quickly put in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. There were many more sequels planned for the Epic Mickey series, but they were all scrapped because of Epic Mickey Two.
14 Beyond Good & Evil
Beyond Good & Evil is an unfortunate case. Ubisoft created this title many years ago and it was received with critical acclaim. Despite this, its sales were so poor that the company immediately scrapped any plans for the sequels (the game was going to become a trilogy). They credited it to other big releases like Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia.
Whatever the problem was, Beyond Good and Evil couldn't quite grab the interest of the general public and went under the radar. An HD remaster was later ported to the Xbox 360 and PS3, but it was far too late to revive the game. A sequel has been in the works for some time, but we probably won't see it for a really long time.
13 Pac-Man (Atari 2600)
The case of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 requires a bit of explanation on this list, so stay with me here. The game itself didn't sell poorly and sold about seven million copies. The problem with this is that Atari lost more on this deal than just their company. The game itself was poorly made and rushed to make it during the holiday season.
However, Atari had two million more units of the game than there were consoles for some reason, and this led to a lot of problems. The five million units they had leftover caused them to tank hard. This sad excuse for a game even factored into the big video game crash before Nintendo came to the scene. If you take one look at the graphics, you'll know exactly how painfully unacceptable it is.
12 Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem was a classic game series that had many older gamers enamored. In 1997, it was announced that another entry in the franchise was being worked on, but Duke Nukem Forever wouldn't come out until 2011. Despite this long wait, it was clear that the game could've used a few more years to iron out all the kinks.
The problem was that the development team didn't give themselves very many funds or a lot of time to get it done, and some shifts in management caused it to be rushed out while still unfinished. Unfortunately for them, the general public caught on and Duke Nukem Forever sold much less than was expected. The sales forced many companies to lose money and Take-Two had to drop their estimation for money.
11 Grim Fandango
Grim Fandango is an adventure game that released during one of the worst times possible. At the same time that it came out, audiences also had the choice of Metal Gear Solid and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The release of these games is often cited as the biggest factor for why Grim Fandango sold so poorly.
The game sold less than 100,000 copies in the U.S. and that's an extremely dismal number. That being said, the company in charge didn't lose money on Grim Fandango, but they were definitely hesitant about creating any more adventure games in the light of first-person shooters. The game would later be remastered on current gen consoles.
10 Battlecruiser 3000AD
Of all the games that never delivered on the hype, Battlecruiser 3000AD is one of the most infamous. After developer Derek Smart hyped this game for about ten years, it was released to critical backlash and this turned its sales into a commercial nightmare.
It's a classic situation where a developer promises one thing, but the consumer receives another. It's disappointing, to say the least, and that sums up Battlecruiser 3000AD pretty well. Whether you're trying to navigate your ship or blast opponents out of the sky, rest assured that this game will test your patience at every turn. Almost nothing worked properly in this game when it was released, save for maybe its opening cutscene.
Psychonauts won the 2005 GameSpot award for the best game that no one played. If that alone doesn't tell you why this game deserves a spot on this list, then I'm not sure what will. Psychonauts is a cult classic game. While it may not have a huge following (especially back in the day), the game received critical acclaim for bringing a lot of new ideas to the gaming industry.
However, the lack of knowledge about the game caused it to sell less than 100,000 copies during its initial release. Thankfully, the brilliance of the game would not go unnoticed. Psychonauts would later be rereleased on current gen consoles and be available on the Steam and Humble Bundle libraries. Psychonauts 2 is already in development as well.
8 Brutal Legend
The developers of Psychonauts, Double Fine Productions, never seemed to catch a break. As if their original failure wasn't bad enough, they had a double whammy with Brutal Legend. This game, for those of you that haven't heard, stars Jack Black as a rocker/warrior with a love for heavy metal. Featuring many classic metal stars like Ozzy Osbourne as Black's mentor, Brutal Legend could've been a hit among older gamers.
That said, because the project had to shift between Activision and Electronic Arts, the production was hazy at best. Furthermore, the game had elements of a real-time strategy. But because that genre wasn't performing well at the time, Double Fine decided not to market that in the game. These factors along with the release of Uncharted 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum at the same time made Brutal Legend fall off the face of the planet.
Say what you will about SEGA's business decisions later in their life, you can't deny they came up with some exceptional games. Unfortunately, circumstances caused titles like Shenmue series to not sell as much as they wanted it to. Part of the problem is the game was released on the SEGA Dreamcast, a console that was destined to go out in flames. Shenmue II was later released on the Xbox.
The series was a brawler that combined story-telling with tight gameplay. So much went into this game that SEGA had to spend a lot of money on it, but didn't make it back in the end. This caused to give up on finishing the trilogy altogether, but a Kickstarter has allowed for Shenmue 3 to be expected in December of this year.
6 ET: The Extra Terrestrial
If you think that Pac-Man on the Atari 2600 single-handedly brought the gaming industry to a halt, you'd be wrong. This is the classic example of a game being rushed to release so that it would be ready for Christmas. Atari produced five million copies of the game and only 1.5 million were sold. However, many of the sold copies were returned because people thought the game was terrible.
The end result was one of the worst games ever created. Atari was so disgusted with the results that they took numerous copies of the game and dumped them in a burial site in New Mexico. The sales of ET: The Extra Terrestrial cause Atari to file for bankruptcy and the gaming industry has never been the same since.
Creating a series inspired by The Legend of Zelda seems like something that can only end well, right? Thankfully, the resulting Okami is one of the best platformers ever created. It combines the exploration elements of a Zelda with a beautiful Japanese art style. It seems like the kind of game people would eat up. Unfortunately for Clover Studio, that was not the case.
Okami currently holds the record for "least commercially successful award for a game of the year." Despite its critical acclaim, Okami only managed to get 600,000 copies out. The failure of the title motivated Capcom to break up Clover Studio. However, the legacy of Okami would live on, having another entry on the DS, a remake on the Wii, and an HD remaster the PS3.
4 Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
In terms of horror games, the genre isn't doing much to reinvent the wheel, instead relying on jumpscares to fuel it (Resident Evil 7 is an exception). Jump back to the early 2000s with the GameCube, when Silicon Knights had an excellent idea to add to the horror genre with Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.
The game holds a staggering 9.6 on IGN and has been heralded as one of the most frightening horror games of all time. However, the game sold less than 20,000 copies altogether, which is horribly unfair for the quality of it. It's always unfortunate to see brilliance go to waste, but that's precisely what happened with Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.
Here's another example of the developers promising one thing and the public receiving another. Lair was supposed to be a game that combined tight battle mechanics with beautiful exploration and the ability to ride on a dragon. It seemed like a fantasy lover's dream come true, but that was far from what happened when the came released on the PS3.
Lair was heavily criticized for going through the motions. All of the battles and cutscenes were either predictable or repetitive, leading to poor sales. The game also led to many legal problems with Factor 5 (the developers) and they eventually had to close their U.S. division because of all of the trouble involved.
2 Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
While familiarity breeds contempt, if you stray too far from what people expect, then you shoot yourself in the foot. That's precisely what happened to Oddworld Inhabitants when they created Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. Up until that point, the Oddworld series had been about platforming, rescuing various critters, and stopping enemies using quick thinking.
Stranger's Wrath was a different creation entirely. Instead, it focused on action, guns, and gorgeous visuals. All in all, it wasn't a bad game by any means. The problem was that it was so detached from the rest of the Oddworld series that it caused many to overlook it. This alone was enough to motivate the company to not create a game for many years until Oddworld: New 'N' Tasty!.
1 Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric
It's a moral travesty that the Sonic series has not been known for its quality in quite some time. SEGA was aware of this, though, and tried to bring a new take on Sonic as a way of revitalizing the franchise. Unfortunately, the original idea they had for this was quickly changed for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.
I don't even know where to start with this game. Despite coming out on the Wii U, the visuals are quite ugly. The combat is poor, being less exciting than watching paint dry. The game is also riddled with bugs and glitches that you can access without even trying. To make matters worse, a tie-in 3DS game was also released, called Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. Between these two games, less than 500,000 copies were sold, making Sonic Boom the lowest-selling entry in the entire series.