Video game publishers should have been on their best behavior in 2018, following a previous year that required some embarrassing apologies from game developrs following numerous failures in the eyes of the community. However, 2018 brought with it its own set of pitfalls, and, at several times throughout the year, video game fans have made their feelings clear on the actions of some of the biggest names in the industry.
The issue of loot boxes has returned once more, with plenty of companies failing to heed the anger of players or even anti-loot box legislation passed by countries. Meanwhile, the return of some of the most beloved intellectual properties has failed to meet the expectations set of them, leading to plenty of disappointment from gamers.
Related: The Best Co-op Game of 2018
So, read on to see the worst moments of video game publishers in 2018, from negative reactions to game announcements through to backlash over business decisions. Hopefully, these are things that the culprits will learn from in future.
- This Page: Diablo Immortal, PUBG, & FIFA
- Page 2: Red Dead Redemption 2, PS Classic, Shadow of War, & Metal Gear Survive
- Page 3: Valve, Square Enix, & Fallout 76
Blizzard's Diablo Immortal Announcement Will Last Forever
Fans of the Diablo series have been waiting a long time for a new game, but Diablo Immortal was not what they were hoping for. A mobile-only spinoff of the action RPG franchise, gamers were aghast when the title was revealed earlier this year, dreading the potential for dodgy microtransactions and fearing a move away from the PC focus that Diablo had always maintained.
The method that Blizzard used to announce Diablo Immortal was certainly a big part of the problem. Blizzard waited until BlizzCon, a convention for the most dedicated of its fans, to unveil the title, while giving no mention of Diablo 4 in spite of conversations being held about the possibility of revealing the game. The offhand treatment of an angry player base intensified matters too, leaving lots of Diablo fans furious with Activision Blizzard.
This led to a pretty damaging reaction for Activision Blizzard, including a huge amount of dislikes for Diablo Immortal's trailers and even a significant share price drop. Activision Blizzard will need to bear this in mind for future announcements, and the publisher may well be rethinking its strategy for those other mobile games it has in the pipeline.
PUBG Corporation's Legal Fight Is Hardly A Battle Royale
In some ways, the frustrations of PUBG Corporation and Bluehole are easy to understand. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in no way invented the battle royale genre, but it was the first to really resonate with players, hitting some major sales milestones along the way. However, in spite of its large player base, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has since been knocked out of the park by Fortnite.
The response to the success of Fortnite, however, has left many scratching their heads. Bluehole decided that the best course of action was to sue Epic Games over Fortnite, before promptly dropping the suit. It left the publisher as something to mock for many, both over its vicious reaction to a competitor and over the idea that PUBG could lay claim to the genre as a whole.
Although the matter was resolved, it was yet another example of erratic behavior from the PUBG camp, as seen by its reaction to Battlefield V's battle royale mode. Unfortunately, this short and sweet Epic Games suit leaves PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds as a game with a history among the strangest and most controversial video game lawsuits.
EA Promises And Fails To Deliver With Loot Boxes
EA needed to have a good year after the savage mauling it received at the hands of fans in 2017. Games such as Star Wars: Battlefront II had been at the front of the video game loot boxes debate, which saw publishers such as EA come under fire for bad business models and potentially even using mechanics akin to gambling in their games. In the end, EA promised to do better with its future releases, and as such would come under a lot of scrutiny.
Although EA would keep to their word with Battlefield V, other titles released by the publisher still kept in these loot box microtransactions. The EA Sports line was rife with them when it came to the hugely popular Ultimate Team game modes, including in FIFA 19 and UFC 3, while mobile strategy spin-off Command & Conquer: Rivals is plagued by microtransactions - including loot boxes.
The debate over loot boxes may have died down a little since last year, but it's an issue that is unlikely to be acceptable any time soon. A spike in child gambling issues has seen the UK Gambling Commission suggest that loot boxes are part of the problem, while government scrutiny sees loot boxes banned by certain countries. When it comes to EA, the publisher is fighting back against Belgium's ban of loot boxes, so it appears as though the company is keen to keep this controversial business model within reach.