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Now and then, we see studios make magic out of new IPs and build loyal fans who sing the praise of their game from rooftops. However, when a studio takes a popular IP and creates a mediocre game out of it with the hope of riding the wave of the IP’s popularity to boost sales, players can’t help but feel scammed. That is what some of the biggest video game flops of 2023 did.

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

In other instances, a developer may under-promise and eventually over-deliver. However, gamers will also feel scammed when a developer over-promises with their video game and ends up under-delivering. The list you are about to see contains both scenarios.

7 biggest video game flops of 2023

This year has been one of the most memorable years for video game lovers. It gave us mind-blowing remakes of successful franchises like Dead Space and Resident Evil 4. We had breathtaking sequels like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

There were new IPs like Immortals of Aveum and Forspoken—regardless of their not-so-good reception. On the other end of the spectrum, there were really poor games like The Lord of the Rings: Gollum—which was presumably so poor that the developer had to issue an apology. Finally, there was everything in between.

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Some of the games on this list are so bad that they should never have existed. Others posed as a prequel to successful releases but ended up ruining my childhood memories. However, if you think The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was bad, wait until you see the number 1 video game on this list.

#7. The Day Before (Fntastic)

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

The Day Before was developed by Fntastic and published by Mytona. After several pushbacks and excuses that sounded more like rambling, The Day Before finally got Steam Early Access release on December 7, 2023. However, many now wish it never happened. It has not been rated on Metacritic yet, but the few available reviews will snuff out any iota of hope you had.

The Day Before heavily copied a ton of games without perfecting any. It was promoted as an open-world zombie survival game. However, what The Day Before really is, is an open world where you aimlessly move around and occasionally encounter one or two zombies with an exaggerated death animation—but that’s if you are lucky enough to get into the game.

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Most people tried different servers before they were able to get into the game. Others were yanked off several times. In the end, you will be left wondering if your anger was from the clogged server, the aimless story, or the watered-down graphics from the first reveal. Well, it may be a bit of all of them.

#6. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Quest for Balance

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the cartoons that lighted my childhood. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I heard that the animated series would be turned into a video game. It was my chance to relive my childhood experience. Bamtang Games was tasked with bringing the game to life while GameMill Entertainment was the publisher. Did Bamtang deliver the experience I hoped for? Definitely not!

For the record, I began playing Avatar: The Last Airbender Quest for Balance but was unable to finish it. The idea was great, but the delivery was wrong. Firstly, I thought the combat system was awful. The quests and puzzles were petty and basic and nothing really to challenge your imagination. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the poor camera system that frequently got me lost on where to go next.

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Maybe this game was built for a third-grader. But it should have been marketed as such. False marketing is a scam and any developer that uses this gimmick to inflate sales should be called out. This is one of the video games where I think the developer simply wanted to piggyback on an established IP with a huge fan base. Did they succeed? Absolutely not! It didn’t even get enough reviews to get a rating on Metacritic. Simply put, not many people played the game or cared about it.

#5. Flashback 2

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

The first Flashback game was released in 1992, and, goodness gracious me, it was a masterpiece. It was developed by France’s Delphine Software and published by U.S. Gold. And Sunsoft. It even won the Guinness World Records as the best-selling French game of all time. Fast-forward to 31 years after and we have a sequel from Paul Cuisset and Microids and they succeeded in ruining my childhood memories.

It was supposed to be a prequel that happened 8 years before the first game. However, it failed to use all the opportunities presented by the computing power of the current-gen consoles. Instead, it felt like the developers were competing with the 1992 release.

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The game was unplayable until after two patches. Then, there are images of characters that feel as if they were generated by AI. On Metacritic, the game’s best score was 37 on PS5 and dropped to 30 on PC. While the world presented a lot of promises, that was where it ended. Somebody please tell someone to stop ruining our childhood memories. Please? The only good news about Flashback 2 is that it is redeemable.

#4. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

When the Lord of the Rings: Gollum was announced in March 2019 by Daedalic Entertainment, I was hyped. I was genuinely interested in experiencing Gollum, a character with a twisted mind. Initially billed for release in 2021, it was pushed back a couple of times before finally making it to 2023. It turned out that the game was not worth the wait.

I think this is one of the instances where a studio makes a mess of popular IP with the hope that regardless of how the game looks or feels, fans of the franchise will still fall for it. A scam! The game was poorly received to the point that Daedalic had to issue an apology days later, and even scrapped the unit that made the game.

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The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was the worst representation of Middle Earth. Perhaps, the game would have amounted to something if it was just the graphics that were bad. However, every single thing you can think of was wrong with it from ugly gameplay to performance issues. Its best score on Metacritic was 43 on Xbox Series X. That figure dropped to 38 on PC and 34 on PS5.

#3. Greyhill Incident

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

Greyhill Incident developed by Refugium Games was promoted as a story-driven survival-horror game about alien invasion. However, playing through the game, you will discover that what you will be struggling to survive is your sanity. The world is lifeless and there is nothing scary about the aliens. Rather, they are dead annoying.

What I found even more jarring was how poor the voice acting was. As if that was not enough, the voice was often out of sync with the characters. Thankfully, the developers kept that experience short at about 3 hours. While it lasts, the game will have you complete random tasks that don’t drive the story. I struggled to complete some of those tasks because of a lack of waypoints.

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Greyhill Incident is designed to be a stealth game but you will move so slowly that short tasks tend to be drawn out. You can hide in cars and trash cans too but all that was not enough to save its awful mechanics and aliens that can be killed with two gunshots or several whacks with the baseball bat. On Metacritic, Greyhill Incident had an average score of 38 on PC and 26 on PS5. I dare you to experience this game yourself.

#2. The Walking Dead: Destinies

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

When you hear The Walking Dead, you would expect a hardcore horror game at par with Resident Evil, right? The Walking Dead: Destinies is another example of a developer taking a popular IP and making a mess of it. IGN called it “an insult not only to the TV show it poorly attempts to emulate but to modern gaming in general”.

Developed by Flux Game Studio and published by GameMill Entertainment, The Walking Dead: Destinies is one of those adaptations of a popular IP that should never have happened. It was a scam not just on the IP but on the huge fans of the franchise. Playing through The Walking Dead: Destinies made me think that Daedalic deserves an apology because The Lord of the Rings: Gollum offered a better and more engaging experience.

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What I found laughable was the cutscenes which were mere flashes of pictures that gave off a mobile game vibe. I thought the idea for the game was great but the execution was lacking. From broken mechanics to technical blunders and glitches, there is way too much wrong with this game that it shouldn’t have been released. It scored an average of 29 on PS5 on Metacritic.

#1. Skull Island: Rise of Kong

7 Biggest Video Game Flops Of 2023 That Left Gamers Feeling Scammed

After playing Skull Island: Rise of Kong, I swore never to play anything from GameMill again. I have endured this abusive marriage for far too long and will be getting a divorce. The cover art of Skull Island: Rise of Kong was so colorful. Paired with the reputation of King Kong, you just want to dive right in. However, as soon as the game loads up, you will discover that you have been scammed—and the pain doesn’t easily go away.

Developed by IguanaBee and published by, yours truly, GameMill Entertainment, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is a waste of license. If The Game Awards had a category for the Worst Game of the Year, I bet IguanaBee would have smiled home with one of those angel-shaped trophies. There was not a single part of Skull Island: Rise of Kong that was not lacking in performance.

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The visuals are outright terrible and scary rather than exciting. In one scene, there was a static image in place of a cutscene in one flashback event. From an uninteresting world to a Kong that looks like the murderer in Scream movie, this game seems to be intentionally designed to waste your time and cash in on the Kong brand. The game managed to rake in 23 points on Metacritic.

What was your worst video game of 2023?

That’s a wrap on some of the biggest video game flops of 2023. While there are different developers on this list, GameMill is one publisher that deserves an award for being consistent at delivering really awful experiences. I can’t think of a game published by GameMill in 2023 that received a good rating.

Which of the games from the list was your absolute worst? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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