2018 in Gamer Rage

By Laura Kate Dale and Rich Stanton on at

The act of playing video games is generally expected to be pretty fun, but on occasion can take a turn for the rage-inducing. Franchises you love change direction, publishers won’t let you play with your friends, collectables fail to live up to expectations... it’s enough to get even the most mild-mannered of nerds smashing their keyboards.

Not that we approve, of course. But with 2018 nearly over, we thought our angry energy could be put to good use by collating a big list of the things that have caused the most rage, deserved or not, among the gaming community. These are the things that got people everywhere frothing, tweeting, and wondering why they didn't just pick up a good book instead.

Every Aspect of Fallout 76

Bethesda have not had a good time this year handling the announcement and release of Fallout 76. In theory it was an easy win: a new Fallout game with a huge map, online multiplayer support, so soon after the last Fallout game. In practice, this saw one mistake after another.

Firstly, when revealed at E3, people got mad that they would not have the option to play through Fallout 76 as an offline singleplayer experience. OK that's not exactly Bethesda's fault, surely we want developers to experiment with their games, but it's a thread that runs through a few other entries too. In 2018 people got mad because a game isn't the game they want (in this case Fallout 5, which is inevitable regardless of 76).

Then came the launch woes, as much a part of Bethesda games as the marketing campaign, which included some severe server issues and progress-ruining bugs. Then came the collector’s edition that was advertised with a canvas bag that, thanks to the bean-counters, was shipped to buyers in the new form of a cheap nylon bag. This is bad enough but was compounded by unsympathetic customer service and Bethesda's forced step-by-step approach to the problem: initially there was no problem, then a minor amount of in-game currency was offered as compensation, until finally the canvas bags as advertised somehow materialised.

Oh, and then Bethesda accidentally sent home addresses, names, and phone numbers of affected customers to different customers.

Yeah... as far as targets for gamer rage go, Bethesda probably deserved this one.

Sony’s Cross-play Stubbornness Reached a Head

For a few years, we’ve known that Sony didn’t want to let Cross-play between all three major consoles happen. We’ve seen games support cross-play between PC, Xbox One, and even Switch, but PS4 always seemed to be left out from the party.

For a while gamers just sort of lived with it. It was a shame, but Sony had its line: it was better for Playstation gamers to only play against other Playstation gamers.

This all came to a head at E3, thanks to Fortnite on Switch.

Fortnite is a great fit for Switch for obvious reasons, but when PS4 fans tried to log into their account on the Nintendo console, they discovered they could not.

While you can log into your Switch Fortnite account on Xbox One, and vice versa, if you’ve ever logged into Fortnite on PS4 even once then tough luck: you can never log into it on a different console. Sony wouldn’t let you access your account on a new system, and that is really annoying.

It's simply reality that certain games now exist across different ecosystems, and in that context it's not unreasonable for players to expect that one account should track their progress and items across hardware. This specific case was enough to encourage plenty of folks to get vocal with Sony about their displeasure, and a few months later the platform-holder started to shift its position.

Sony announced in late September that over the coming months it would start supporting cross-play for Ps4 players. This was a victory for the players.

Black Ops 4 is The First Call of Duty Without a Campaign

Over the years Activision has been clear about the fact that most Call of Duty players spend a lot more time in multiplayer than singleplayer, with some never even touching the story mode. So it should not have been a big surprise that this year's Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was the first to ship without a singleplayer campaign. But people still got mad!

Ultimately it didn’t hurt sales: Black Ops 4 sold very well on the back of its multiplayer offering, including a new battle royale mode: Blackout. This felt like it marked something of a watershed for Call of Duty however and, as rational as the decision may have been, it's a bitter pill for some series fans.

Switch's Retro Offering is a Little Scrooge-Like

2018 saw Switch’s paid online service arrive, and with it access to Nintendo's glorious back catalogue. Well, kinda.

Paid subscribers get free access to a limited selection of NES games to play, which in some cases have added online support. This isn't the fuller virtual console lineup from past systems, it focuses on NES games only at the moment, and that's your lot.

Switch owners were pretty mad! Well OK, maybe not mad exactly, because for Nintendo lovers this is a familiar feeling. Perhaps it's more... resigned disappointment and eye-rolling.

The console feels perfect for acquiring a little Nintendo library, but this slow drip feed of older titles you can't choose between is not it. Nintendo's decision seemed to fundamentally misunderstand at least one aspect of retro gaming. A lot of people don't have the time or want to play through a load of old NES games: they just want to buy the ones they remember fondly, and enjoy a few memories.

Anyway... Nintendo gonna Nintendo, and things remain as they are. This NES app is no replacement for a proper virtual console, however, and it’s a real shame Switch doesn’t have a wider variety of Nintendo's amazing history available on it.

Telltale Closed, People Were Angry Staff Didn't Keep Working

This one was a bit nuts. When the sad news of Telltale's closure was broken by Kotaku, it wasn't too long before certain folk on the internet started wondering about the partially-completed final season of the studio's flagship title, Telltale's The Walking Dead. Specifically, how and whether it would be finished. 

The question is more understandable when you realise that Telltale had already sold season passes for the game (and indeed it will be finished by the studio Skybound). But even so, banging on about an episodic game getting finished when the people who make it have all just lost their jobs? Gross.

Command and Conquer Rivals is a Mobile Game

OK, so this one is gonna be something of a theme...

When EA during their E3 press conference announced a new Command and Conquer game was in the works, fans of the recently dormant series were over the moon... for a grand total of around thirty seconds. Command and Conquer Rivals was revealed as a mobile game focused on capturing bases on a small hex-based map, and firing missiles at each other.

By the glory of the Nod, this did not go down well. Fans of series like this generally accept that studios are going to make mobile titles, for obvious reasons, but it's the attempt to hype them up that leads to such negative reactions: tell people that the next entry in a long-running series is coming, then reveal a mobile phone game, and it's not hard to see why the crowd gets mad. You feel fooled. Later in the year EA did announce a Command and Conquer remaster, which seems like the corporate equivalent of saying sorry.

Diablo Immortal is Also a Mobile Game!

Diablo Immortal was the major reveal of Blizzcon 2018's Diablo panel, and oh boy people did not like this one. Again the problem was exacerbated by the reveal: people expected to get a glimpse of Diablo's future, but instead were asked to get excited about a fairly unremarkable-looking mobile spinoff.

Focused on online play with friends and developed by a studio known for making mobile Diablo clones, people got astonishingly angry about this one. The situation wasn't helped by a Blizzard employee's flippant response to a question about the game getting a PC release (“What, don’t you guys own a phone?”) but quickly got out of hand, and the fallout was covered extensively by Kotaku's own Jason Schreier.

Blizzard had at one stage prepared to tease the real 'next' Diablo, but apparently pulled back. Perhaps it saw the mobile title as a nice bonus for fans. But that wasn't how it came across, and the whole farrago caused a lot of extreme reactions and ill will.

Valve Releases Card Game That Costs Money

Valve's Artifact, a collaboration with Richard Garfield, launched in November and... it's a weird one alright. It's obviously a high-quality title but it's also pretty forbidding at first and, thanks to its incorporation of a card marketplace, initially made folk suspicious that it was in some way ripping them off. Artifact seems like reasonable if not amazing value: it's £20 for the base game, including ten card packs. Then you can buy more packs or buy / sell in the marketplace.

Not that any of this matters: the game is doomed! Here's a subset of gamer anger, the prophecies of failure that can attach to any new title that doesn't quite come out of the blocks as smoothly as it should. It's true that Artifact's player counts don't look too impressive for Valve. It's also true that the game still needs a lot of work and card variety. That said, it's hard to feel angry about Valve daring to charge for the game, or selling extra card packs (which all of these types of games do), or including a few overpowered cards in the initial release, or experimenting with the marketplace integration. But people are!

Blizzard Shutters Heroes of the Storm eSports Without Warning

Some of these entries are about people getting angry over silly things. It doesn't really matter that EA's making some Command and Conquer mobile game, it just pisses folk off. But this one... it's both horrible for those individuals affected, and also highlights an ethical issue that will crop up in eSports time and again. What responsibility, if any, does a game's developer owe to its professional players?

Blizzard's answer to this can be inferred from the manner in which it announced the end of its support for Heroes of the Storm as an eSport: a blog post. Everyone involved in the game was furious. Obviously there is a knotty argument at the core of this, but it's hard not to feel like these individuals were treated badly by a company that is not short on resource, and could have managed an announcement like this in a different manner. As Darrie, the general manager of eSports team Method, wrote at the time:

“We are troubled by the way the announcement was made; namely the impolitic choice to use social media to share such a message that effectively ended the careers of hundreds of players, content creators, casters, production crews overnight - and broke the hearts of countless fans.”

It's not like Blizzard wants any of its games to fail, of course. But the nature of modern multiplayer titles, particularly those with eSports ambitions, is that they can build and support their own professional communities. Everyone knows that things in this world don't always go to plan, and that Blizzard was not in a good position here. But a blog post? There has to be a better answer than that.

Those were the biggest explosions of gamer rage in 2018. Have we pissed you off by missing something?