Alongside a lot of great games being released in 2017, there was a lot of bad things that happened surrounding them. In this list we’re going to tackle some of the worst parts in gaming, in a year where headlines were dominated by publishers exploring monetization options that essentially ruined some of the most popular franchises of the industry. As usual, the year was also littered with cash grab downloadable content, poorly managed services, and disappointing news and game releases. Judging from the list below, we should just call these the EA awards.
Worst Trend – Blind Boxes
Without a doubt, the most concerning trend in video games this year was the new ways that publishers incorporated loot boxes into their games in 2017. While some offered cosmetic items in them, taking a page from Overwatch to monetize their games, others used them in more insidious ways that started creeping into the territory of “Pay to Win.”
Not content with allowing players to earn these boxes by simply playing full-priced $60 games, these loot boxes are now widely available across a number of high profile games for real world cash. Also not content with just limiting these loot boxes to contain cosmetic items, some developers started putting game changing items into them as well.
Buying what you want as piece meal DLC is one thing, but blind boxes have become a big topic of concern across the gaming community as they seem to prey on people with certain tendencies as they have the characteristics of a virtual slot machine. The problem got so bad in 2017 surrounding the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 that main stream financial media and government officials from numerous countries started to weigh in on the controversy.
Worst Publisher – EA
In 2017 you could point the finger at Electronic Arts for their treatment of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and call it day for Worst Publisher of the year, but they did so much more. Not only did they misuse the Star Wars Battlefront 2 license in a completely predatory fashion by structuring their entire game around microtransactions, but they also killed one of the most beloved series of all time by releasing Mass Effect Andromeda way before it was ready. They took this same loot box system and incorporated it into another one of their biggest franchises in Need for Speed, essentially stripping any enjoyment from that game as well. They shuttered a studio that many hoped would finally bring us a single player Star Wars game, and in the same breath told us all that single player games were dead.
Electronic Arts has been looked upon poorly in recent years in the way that they treat their paying customers and the studios that they gobble up and dismantle, but this year they’ve sunk to their lowest lows.
Most Disappointing – Mass Effect Andromeda
Mass Effect Andromeda should have been, at the very least, a decent game. Unfortunately, this highly anticipated title landed with a thud in early-2017. It was pretty clear from the onset that there was a lack of quality in the game when compared to the original trilogy, and in many ways it didn’t even feel like a true Mass Effect game. Andromeda lacked in almost every facet where its predecessors were praised. While there were quite a few disappointing games in 2017, seeing Electronic Arts take the Mass Effect series out to the woodshed and kill it off was one of the most unfortunate things to see.
Worse yet, they completely abandoned it afterwards by closing Bioware Montreal and merging it into a different studio, EA Motive. An update from the Mass Effect Andromeda development team earlier this year revealed that there are no future patches for single player or in-game story content, leaving many threads of this already disjointed story dangling.
Worst Launch – Star Wars Battlefront 2
At the time of this writing, EA is still trying to get things right in Star Wars Battlefront 2. The decisions that were made leading up to the launch of this highly anticipated shooter still leave us scratching our heads. It truly sounded like Electronic Arts was going to make good on the promise of a great Battlefront game. All the pieces are there. The single player story mode that players of the first game were asking for was included, other single player challenge modes that broadened the scope of the game were as well, it has an incredible presentation that was carried over from their first effort, and a reworked class system in multiplayer — Battlefront 2 has all the pieces to be a good Star Wars game.
Once it was realized that the entire progression and unlocks system was tied to loot boxes and an in-game economy that slowly trickled currency to players in a fashion that felt like a free to play mobile game, EA started a backpedal that’s been rivaled in recent years only by the infamous launch of the Xbox One. First they increased the currency that players earn in the game to help with the grindy progression system of unlocking new characters. Then they started giving players better daily rewards. They even raised the cap of progression linked currency you could earn in the game’s single player modes (what a revelation).
Unfortunately, the damage was really done when they structured the progression system for the game around the controversial Star Card system. This system allows players to upgrade their characters with cards that, for the most part, are found in blind boxes. Perhaps EA will get the game back on track in 2018.
Worst Best Game – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Xbox One
When it was announced that one of the most popular games of 2017 would be coming to the Xbox One as a console exclusive, Xbox One owners had something to look forward to this year. Unfortunately, PUBG on the Xbox One is a game that is good “in theory.”
Being part of the Xbox Game Preview Program means that there’s going to be some rough edges around the game, and PUBG has a lot of them. There are currently a ton of problems with this game on the Xbox One, which include things like hard crashes that kick you out of multiplayer matches, network latency, lag, and numerous graphical issues that just make it feel like a game that needs a ton of optimization before it rivals its PC counterpart.
That said, PUBG is still a lot of fun to play, and that’s mostly because of the concept of the game. While it’s expected to see optimizations that take it to 1.0 status in 2018, until then PUBG is the “worst best” game you can play on the Xbox One, or “best worst” game you can play on the console… choose your poison.
Worst DLC – Curse of Osiris
Bungie doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to downloadable content for its Destiny series. Sometimes they release DLC that corresponds with updates for the game that appease the community, sometimes they don’t. With the release of Curse of Osiris, Bungie missed an opportunity to reel in a community that’s been lodging complaints left and right about numerous facets of Destiny 2. Everything that could possibly go wrong with the first expansion for Destiny 2, did. Mercury ended up being a tiny new landmass to explore. The story aspects of the expansion were not fleshed out, and had a very short run time. They even went so far as to use the story missions of Curse of Osiris as new strikes. At a third of the price of the core game, Curse of Osiris feels lacking in content and what end game content it does offer isn’t that great.
While the new Raid Lair content was good, it wasn’t quite as fulfilling as a completely new Raid could’ve been. Curse of Osiris is more The Dark Below than Rise of Iron, here’s hoping that Bungie starts to right the ship in 2018 as Destiny 2 is a great shooter.
Worst Service – Steam
A lot of developers and publishers use Valve’s Steam platform to reach PC gamers. It’s not a bad platform. It’s feature rich, Valve offers decent support with the addition of new updates incrementally, but right now there’s more bad games than good on the platform. Valve opened the flood gates for “developers” to release cash grab, asset flip titles on Steam and it’s a buyer beware situation right now that’s not only affecting gamers, but developers as well. By allowing anyone to pay a nominal fee to have their game added to Steam with Steam Direct, there’s just too much noise on the platform. In 2017 alone, there were over 7000 games released on Steam and most of them are shit. To put that in perspective, that’s close to the same number of games that were released between 2005 and 2015. While they’ve done things in recent years to try and push players toward games that will suit their tastes with things like community curation, good games from small developers are getting lost in the shuffle to games that have no more value than to just give players easy achievements.
The bottom line for Steam users is that it’s harder for users to find good games. For developers, it’s harder for their good games to be found in a sea of sewage.
It’s time for Valve to take a more hands-on approach.
So there were some of our thoughts on the Worst things in gaming for 2017. Let us know in the comments section your thoughts on the worst things in gaming for the year, or if you’d like to see our favorite things, check out our Best of 2017 and Top 10 Staff Picks for the year.