10 cult games nobody bought when released
In today's game industry, marketing has become incredibly important. Frequently hallucinous amounts are spent to promote the visibility of a game. This leads also to smaller games who are often invisible the general public. But the lack of a marketing machine does not mean that a game is bad. That is why we have compiled this list of excellent games that unfortunately did not get the attention they deserve.
Spec Ops: The Line
At first sight, Spec Ops: The Line (2012) appears to be a typical third-person cover shooter. But this war drama of the German Yager studio has much more to offer. The marketing team forgot to focus on the strong story, leaving many gamers to wait for another shooter.
A dark look at war, heavy moral choices together with countless references to the literary classic Heart of Darkness form the intriguing core of the story. Combine this with a non-linear scenario and a great soundtrack (including Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and Mogwai) and you've got a game where critics are very positive about but not appealing to the big crowd.
The game looks like a shooter as there are already thirteen in the dozen. In addition, no known brand name is attached to it. The only way in which Spec Ops: The Line was mentioned in mainstream media is because it was accused of "excessive violence". As a result, the game was banned from many regions in the world. The combination of all these factors caused disappointing sales figures.
Number of copies sold: 1.14 million.
Divine Divinity is launched at the wrong moment in 2002. The RPG of Belgian developer Larian Studios is being overshadowed by the marketing campaigns of competitors such as Dungeon Siege and Icewind Dale 2.
The first game in the series immediately forms the base of characteristics that have been synonymous with the Divinity brand name over the years: Freedom to influence the world in your way and the typical humor. Those who categorise Divine Divinity as a Diablo clone are wrong. The game not only offers deeper gameplay elements, but also sets a convincing world.
Despite its many qualities, the game doesn't reach a large audience. Luckily, Larian Studios will receive the praise it deserves in 2014 thanks to the modern classic Divinity: Original Sin.
Number of copies sold: 0.5 million.
One of the great adventure game classics of LucasArts and perhaps the best work of creative genius Paw Tim Shafer. No wonder the game was re-released in 2015.
With its intense dialogues and smart humor, the game immediately convinces you. Add the unique Mexican setting, countless references to cult films and an excellent jazz soundtrack and you have a great one-of-a kind game. Grim Fandango is full of unforgettable moments.
Although the 1990s were the golden years for this kind of games, it's not a succes in 1998. This is mainly due to an unfortunate release in the rest, annoying controls (which have been solved in the remastered version) and the fact that the game is only playable on PC. Thanks to Grim Fandango Remastered you can still enjoy this classic today.
Number of copies sold: 0.35 million.
Alice: Madness Returns
If you can say one thing about American McGee, it's the fact he's got a sense of style. Alice: Madness Returns (2011) is a gem of different influences and genres. Steampunk, medieval feudalism, romantic gothic; they are all mixed together.
Alice is not a kitten to tackle without gloves. She fights her enemies with her iconic Vorpal Blade, but is also not shy to get out with a parasol or pepper mill. This cartoon-like violence with a dark side is harmoniously interchanged with platform action and puzzles.
Although the game is an improvement over its predecessor, Alice: Madness Returns it doesn't know to reach a large audience. The unique character of the game world scares too many potential buyers.
Number of copies sold: 1.5 million.
Another cult game from Tim Shafer. After completing the previously discussed Grim Fandango, he's now running his own studio: Double Fine. During the search for new ideas, they stumbled upon Schafer's ten years old notes.
Psychonauts (2005) tells the story of Raz, a boy who runs away from home to develop his psychic powers. These mental forces are central to the gameplay of this platform game. Not only do you have telekinesis and telepathy, but you also get inside the mind of the different game characters. The result is a game with a visual design that, thanks to its diversity, remains good up to today.
Due to some unfortunate marketing choices and financial issues with the original publisher (Majesco Entertainment), the game initially sells very badly. A few years later, Double Fine buys back the rights to the game. In the meanwhile, Psychonauts has become a true cult classic. So, it's not surprising that the crowd funding campaign for Psychonauts 2 at the beginning of 2016 yielded a total of 3.8 million dollars.
Number of copies sold: 1.5 million.
A game that simulates the food chain in a post-apocalyptic world. Such a thing can only come from Japan. It is therefore not surprising that Tokyo Jungle had a failed launch in 2012. The game was just too strange for many people.
The goal of the game is to survive in a post nuclear disaster Tokyo where nature now has the upper hand. You start as a Pomeranian dog (yes, really) and have to hunt, seek food, reproduce and defend your territory. Occasionally you will play new animals like a deer, lion and even a robotic dog (we are in Japan, remember?).
Thanks to the addictive gameplay and funny story mode, the game knows to convince a lot of critics. However, the general public is certainly not ready for it. This game probably shouldn't have been sold outside the land of the rising sun. But those who have played Tokyo Jungle are happy that occasionally some oriental madness reaches our markets.
Number of copies sold: 0.26 million.
Everyone wants to be James Bond. Shaken martini's, beautiful cars and even more beautiful ladies. It is therefore remarkable that few real RPGs are set in a similar universe.
Alpha Protocol, however, does its best to immerse you in the world of intrigue and espionage. Thanks to the Mass Effect-like dialogue system, you can pretend to be a charming Bond, but also the rugged side of a Jack Bauer. The skill system complements your choice. The missions in the game can be tackled as you like, and the outcome of that will affect the rest of the game. It does not matter in which order you tackle them or what equipment you take with you.
The game boasts potential, thanks to a complex story and in-depth gameplay elements. However, there are too many imperfections and bugs, which made the game only moderate in the reviews. Too bad, because Alpha Protocol really is a rough diamond.
Number of copies sold: 1.2 million.
Electronic Arts has a reputation for closing down studios as soon as they do not perform well. A victim of this policy was Pandemic Studios. This developer was shut down right after the failure of The Saboteur in 2009.
In this game you play as Sean Devlin. This Irish playboy and alcoholic performs well in Paris in the 40's. However, everything changes by the outbreak of war and the murder of his best friend. Eager for revenge, he joins the resistance.
However, Pandemic Studios didn't get enough time for Electronic Arts to work out its vision and the creative interplay between good and evil they had in mind. The result is a game that clearly needs a little more polishing. Couple this with a very specific visual style and it's not a recipe for good sales figures.
Number of copies sold: 1.03 million.
A game in which you are rewarded for the creative ways you kill enemies really sounds like an idea that will be received with open arms in 2011. Yet, Bulletstorm and developer People Can Fly couldn't reach a mass audience.
The gameplay however, is great in its brutality. Because in Bullet Storm just don't kill enemies with a headshot. You have to be creative. It's far better to throw an enemy in the air, then shoot him in the testicles and make sure he lands into the hungry mouth of a carnivorous plant. The skill points you get as a reward can be spent on new weapons. Add a dirty and sexist macho as the main character, and Bullet storm is actually the Duke Nukem of our time.
As you can expect, the game comes with a lot of controversy in mainstream media. In addition, an incredible amount of money is pumped into an aggressive marketing campaign. As a result, the disappointing sales figures cause the game to make no profit.
Number of copies sold: 1.81 million.
Beyond Good & Evil
Beyond Good & Evil was and idea of Michel Ancel, who is also responsible for Rayman. Ancel's name is a synonymous for quality, so why is this game in this list?
Our heroine Jade is fighting with a camera in the battle against injustice in the world. Her uncle Pey'j helps her. How a pig can be the uncle of a human being, is not relevant here. However, the smooth controls and stylish graphics don't help the marketing agency to know what to do with it.
Even good press critics don't help Ubisoft to get the game to the gamers.
Number of copies sold: 1.5 million.