It’s difficult to talk about disappointing games during a year that felt like one big, long disappointment itself, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you just have to put your head down and move forward—or in this case, look back. The game industry has changed dramatically over the past 12 months, thanks largely to Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing requirements all around the world. Despite the hardships, it has been an incredible year for video games. Over the next week, TheGamer will be publishing our best of 2020 lists and celebrating all the amazing games that came out this year.
We can’t wait to heap praise on our favorite games and studios, but everyone knows you can’t have the Oscars without the Razzies, so here are the five most disappointing moments of 2020.
Nintendo Vs. The Smash Bros. Community
The Big House was forced to move their annual local tournament online in order to comply with mandatory social distancing. This meant that players would need to use unlicensed mods and ROMs in order to participate. Nintendo shut down the tournament earlier this month, leading to a public outcry on Twitch, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Nintendo also canceled a Splatoon 2 tournament this month, citing “unexpected executional challenges,” but many have their suspicion that the cancellation was a punitive measure, thanks to one of the teams registering their name as #FreeMelee, the popular Twitter hashtag used to show support for the competitive scene. It’s an unfortunate situation that doesn’t look like it’s going to be remedied any time soon.
Nvidia Graphics Card Fiasco
Nvidia’s next generation of graphics cards should have had a huge impact on the industry. The 30-series GPUs represent a massive upgrade in performance from the previous generation at an unprecedented price. Unfortunately, the release structure and the conditions created by Covid-19 made it next to impossible to actually get one.
Unlike next-gen consoles that are hyped up for a year before release, new graphics cards are typically announced and released within a matter of days. Getting your hands on a brand new video card has always been a challenge—thanks to scalpers and scarcity—but 2020 has been a perfect storm of circumstances that has made the 30-series cards practically unobtainable.
Manufacturing took a major hit earlier this year because of the pandemic, but because of the way supply chains move, it wasn’t immediately felt at the point of sale. Over the next year (or more) the effects of limited manufacturing efficiency are going to be pretty dramatic. That’s one big reason the new GPUs were so hard to get, but scalpers were also way overrepresented this year because, like the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, the vast majority were sold online.
It’s a lot harder for scalpers to control the available product when purchased locally, because stores can enforce one-per-customer rules and keep an eye out for repeat shoppers. Online, on the other hand, is a total free-for-all. Very few online retailers take any steps from stopping scalpers and bots from scooping everything up. If you were hoping to upgrade your PC while everyone is upgrading their consoles, you can expect to pay double the retail price on eBay.
The Dr Disrespect Ban
I have a question: why did Twitch ban Dr Disrespect? We’ve been wondering what happened for six months now, and we’re no closer to an answer than we were back then.
Dr Disrespect’s final Twitch stream ended with a bit of bizarre rambling. Around the time of the ban, the Doc had been talking about some pretty controversial things on his channel, like promoting 5G conspiracy theorist David Icke, but nothing he had said or done on stream pointed to the cause of the ban.
As a policy, Twitch does not disclose the reason for bans, but it’s safe to assume that if Twitch was willing to ban one of the biggest channels on the platform mere weeks after signing a multi-million dollar contract with the creator, it must be bad, right?
Doc has even said that he doesn’t know why he was banned. The only person who claims to know the reason is Slasher, but his lips have been sealed. The hints he gave us made it sound like it was really bad, but we just don’t know, and perhaps we never will.
Summer Game Fest
Summer Games Fest was a multi-month media event created by Geoff Keighley to fill the void left by the cancellation of almost every major gaming convention. Traditionally, major game announcements are made throughout the year at conventions like PAX, Gamescon, and E3, but with all of those events canceled, Summer Games Fest was devised as a way to create some of those big reveal moments that we could all experience together, virtually. Unfortunately, the fest was so sporadically scheduled and hard to keep up with that it left us feeling more exhausted than enthused.
Between multiple reveal events for the Xbox Series X|S, Playstation 5, digital events for Gamescom and PAX, and individual presentations for just about every major (and some minor) publisher, it was enough to make your eyes cross. Venturebeat’s Jeff Grubb affectionately referred to the whole thing as Summer Game Mess and did his best to help everyone keep track of the near-daily events and streams, but it was all too much for anyone to manage.
You have to cut Summer Game Fest some slack for the way it came together on such short notice. If this is the new process for reveals going forward, it will almost certainly get tightened up. But boy did it drag on and on this year.
Number one by a million, gagillion miles: Cyberpunk 2077. No game has ever been as hyped as they were about Cyberpunk 2077, which released so far below even the most modest of expectations. Cyberpunk has been disappointing us all year long. Three delays, multiple controversial PR stunts, dishonesty about crunch, and a release so disastrously broken that Sony, Microsoft, and Best Buy are offering refunds, and you’ve got a historically disappointing game.
It’s our biggest disappointment of the year, not because it was overhyped, but because what’s there is a genuinely good video game that’s just covered under a pile of bad press and broken promises. When all the bug fixes and optimization work is done (no doubt under even more crunch), we’re confident that players will have a great experience with it. Unfortunately, we will also need to remember the underhanded tactics that CDPR used to mislead players about the quality of the game, the harsh working conditions the developers were (and likely still are) subjected to, and the game’s problematic representation of minorities. It isn’t what anyone wanted for Cyberpunk, and it’s been the disappointing ending of a pretty disappointing year.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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