Why 2017’s Best Selling Games Were Broken

 

The official list of 2017’s best selling games hasn’t been released yet, but Forbes has been breaking down the monthly reports. Here is the top five they came up with:

Call of Duty: WWII
Destiny 2
NBA 2K18
Madden NFL 18
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Given that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sold roughly 30 million copies, you’d also have to add it to this list. The same may be true of Star Wars: Battlefront II, but there’s room for doubt there.

Regardless, the point is that a lot of technically broken games that sold well in 2017.

The only games on that list which didn’t sport glaring technical or design issues were Madden NFL 18 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands. One was pretty much copy and pasted from a design formula that has been followed for years. The other enjoyed a lukewarm critical reception and still featured a few notable technical bugs.

The rest of these titles will certainly raise a few eyebrows. Call of Duty: WWII may be the continuation of a classic series that has sold millions and millions of copies over the years, but it’s also a game that was almost unplayable at the time of its launch due to server issues. Now that some of those issues are resolved, the game is now being viewed as a step back that uses a new setting to disguise some old problems.

Activision’s other game on this list, Destiny 2, has enjoyed an even rougher debut. Putting aside the mountain of design issues that plague the game and the Destiny franchise as a whole, Destiny 2 sports a series of technical problems that have made it especially hard for the game’s biggest fans to properly enjoy it. On top of all this, players have reported everything from mysterious – and ultimately unfair – bans to hidden restrictions which quietly force players to spend more time in the game. Developer Bungie has been apologizing for the game ever since it was released.

Also Read: The Best Free Video Games of 2017

It goes on. NBA 2K18 features one of the most egregious and depressing microtransaction models in recent memory. Battlegrounds is the kind of game that works “right” once every 10 times you play it. If Battlefront II is on this list, it may be the worst offender of them all.

It would be nice to say that the message here is that gamers are willing to put up with technical issues if they are in service of exciting experiences. You could actually make that argument in the case of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the bigger takeaway here is that laziness is being rewarded in video games.

Call of Duty, Destiny, NBA 2K, Madden, and Ghost Recon are not the best selling games of the year because they are the best games of the year. They are the best selling games of the year because they are continuations whose best entrants can be found in the past. They’re the kind of games that are made in one room while executives look over charts filled with quarterly projections that take their eventual success into account. They will succeed as long as they are not completely broken, and this year tested even that condition.

However, the biggest takeaway from this list is that broken games will continue to dominate the sales until people stop buying them. That means it is up to consumers to take risks and try new games they aren’t familiar with. You may consider that a breach of your comfort zone, but these best-selling games prove that what’s familiar isn’t always safe.

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Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology. He also writes for IndieGameSource and DenOfGeek, and has his own blog at PixelCritique.com.

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