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It’s been an incredible few weeks for game companies making avoidable errors they immediately back down from

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The year has started with an impressive string of boneheaded moves from game publishers. The particulars are different, but they’re connected by how predictable, and therefore avoidable, they were. Here are the biggest recent hits on the 2024 wall of shame:

  • Helldivers 2 suddenly insisted that its millions of PC players make and connect PSN accounts to keep playing. The requirement had been previously announced, but caught the Steam audience by surprise. It has since been taken back.
  • Escape from Tarkov announced a new $250 edition that included an exclusive PvE mode, even though owners of a $150 version were previously promised access to all future DLC. They reconsidered.
  • Fallout 4 got a big “next-gen” patch that, on PC, didn’t do much except break a lot of mods and force the fan creators of Fallout: London to delay their release. (This is the only one where the responsible party didn’t take it back to some degree.)
  • Hearthstone tripled the effort required to complete Weekly Quests, but only increased the XP reward by 20%. After players called out the increased grind, Blizzard dialed things back, although not all the way.

It isn’t always obvious when a gaming company has stumbled into a beehive it could’ve avoided and when it decided that walking face-first into a ball of stingers was a good idea, actually. Maybe whoever’s in charge of raising Hearthstone engagement numbers knew that tripling the quest requirements would make everyone mad, and planned all along to concede by ‘only’ doubling them. Machiavelli walks among us?

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