The launch of Fallout 76 was undoubtedly one of the biggest self-owns by a publisher in recent memory. The business equivalent of launching a portable nuke at your own head, wearing a fixed grin on your face as it blows you into oblivion.
But Bethesda isn’t the first to dig a hole several miles deep and it certainly won’t be the last. We usually get a biggie every holiday season as they rush to get their games out in time for Christmas. Star Wars Battlefront 2 last year was a personal highlight of mine, although Fallout 76’s nylon bag is definitely giving me pause for thought.
There’s just something uniquely amazing about the capacity for a seemingly endless parade of screw-ups by games publishers. It may be the case that I don’t have my finger of the pulse of other industries so much, but there’s definitely a preponderance of publishers that make mistake upon mistake upon mistake, finding themselves in an unwinnable PR situation as a result.
A lot of the time the mistakes aren’t even that bad in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the PR that can surround that sends the worst message. From the time Sony told fans to get a second job to pay for a PlayStation 3; when Microsoft’s Don Mattrick told prospective Xbox One owners they had an Xbox 360 for players who can’t get an online connection, or the infamous “provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment” for Star Wars Battlefront 2’s grindy unlock system.
Sometimes they come good though. Diablo 3's online requirement and the dreaded Auction House caused it to get an absolute pummelling at launch, but Blizzard turned that game around in sensation style. Rainbow Six Siege was roundly criticised for dropping single-player, had a tepid launch, but has gone on to become one of the biggest multiplayer shooters in the world. It's all about how they convey their message after the mistake though, and attempt to make amends.
Okay so they’re all great PR blunders, no doubt about it, but which is, for want of a better word, your favourite? Was it Sony asking why anyone would want to play old games? Was it Blizzard announcing Diablo Immortal at Blizzcon? Do you still feel betrayed by SimCity’s broken online-only launch?
Please, please share what you think is the biggest, or alternatively your favourite, gaming PR disaster, below!