7 Video Games that Promised Us “World Firsts” But Flopped

In the spirit of trying to build excitement and give their game a point of difference, several developers have been guilty of promising us “world first” features in their games without ever delivering in the final product. Here, we’re looking at 7 games, in particular, that promised world firsts and flopped.

If you’re after more cool lists, check out our recent ranking of every PS4 exclusive, or 13 games running Halloween events, or 10 games that are metal AF.

Fable (Oak Trees & Other Promises)

“World First” is Peter Molyneux’s middle name, apparently. The man has earned himself an unwanted reputation of overhyping his games, which kicked off with the iconic Fable series. Fable 2 is a game that earned a lot of critical acclaim on launch, and it certainly is remembered fondly. Yet there’s a whole of promised game features that never actually made it into the final product.

Indeed, it’s not really one single “world first,” but rather a collection of exciting mechanics that Molyneux sold consumers on and never actually delivered. Most famously, the Oak trees that gamers were supposed to be able to plant, carve their names into, and then return years later to find them fully grown and still bearing their mark.

Elsewhere, features such as female playable characters, a posse system whereby townsfolk would hunt players down, a revenge system, the ability to marry and have children, and having your children continue your quest line are just some of his other “world first” features that didn’t deliver. Buy the game here.

Project Milo – AI & Motion Controls

After Nintendo took the world by storm with its Wii console, developers rushed to implement motion controls in game design for their own slice of the pie. The Move, for example, was Sony’s peripheral controller, and it did an admirable job of providing PlayStation users with a motion-control experience.

Microsoft was looking to take things further, and with the launch of its next-generation Xbox One console, Project Milo showcased something the world had never seen before. Lionhead Studios, headed by none other than Peter Molyneux, promised Skynet-level AI interaction, with voice and gesture commands controlling the experience.

It’s worth pointing out that Microsoft was definitely late to the motion control party, and it was clearly trying to reinvent the space to keep interest levels among consumers at a peak. Unfortunately for them, the interest in the design just wasn’t there. What’s more, Lion Head couldn’t actually get Milo to work properly, and the entire project fizzled out. In fact, the entire Kinect program later fizzled out completely, too.

Godus – God of Gods

We promise this list isn’t just about Peter Molyneux… last one, honestly!

Godus was Molyneux’s first mobile title under the studio banner 22cans, which was supposed to be a spiritual successor to his most acclaimed prior games, the Black and White series. At launch, it was riddled with problems, not least the tedious “click-fest” gameplay that users lamented. But it’s most notorious false promise was tied to Molyneux’s previous “game.”

More social experiment than game, Curiosity was a giant cube that players could click to remove layers, working their way toward its center. Incredibly, there were actually microtransactions allowing players to remove huge amounts of cubelets, or totally troll people to add thousands more and stop their progress. It gets better.

Molyneux had promised something extraordinary at its core. When the winner was announced, so was the prize: to become “the God of Gods” in Molyneux’s upcoming Godus, which would grant them a cut of the game’s profits moving forward.

Unfortunately for winner Bryan Henderson, that was never to come to fruition. Henderson was flown out to the studio but ultimately never received his prize.

DriveClub – Club Mechanic

Evolution Studios’ PS4 exclusive DriveClub was hoping to change the players engaged in competitive multiplayer racing. The concept was that players would gain experience by racing together in online clubs. Accumulating victories or checking off different challenges in various modes would boost players within a given club, earning the whole club accolades and reputation.

It was an inventive concept that doubled down on DriveClub’s half simulation, half arcade racing experience. It was supposed to make competitive gaming more accessible, and it certainly seemed a solid idea on paper.

Unfortunately, it didn’t actually translate to the final product. DriveClub was a total mess at launch, with server issues and technical hiccups spoiling the one component to its gameplay that made it unique. The club system was eventually smoothed out, but by the time that eventuated, the player base had fallen off a cliff.

Sadly for Evolution Studios, the failure of DriveClub ultimately spelled their demise, and the studio was later closed by Sony.

No Man’s Sky – Multiplayer Space Exploration

Despite the fact that No Man’s Sky is now a very impressive package, there is one glaring world first mechanic that flopped, so we have to include it on this list. Sean Murray’s notorious multiplayer promises and vague statements about the nature of No Man’s Sky’s gameplay loop –admittedly in combination with a whole load of overhyping from fans and critics alike– created a situation that spiraled very quickly out of control.

Even at launch, No Man’s Sky’s procedurally generated open-universe was hugely impressive. It was space exploration on a previously unimaginable scale. Yet there was a facet of the experience that really disgruntled gamers: Murray had assured gamers they’d be exploring a universe of unparalleled scale with other people. He’d frequently referenced the universe as being so large that we’d actually never be able to find each other anyway. In the end, though, the reason we’d never find each other is that there was no multiplayer built into the game.
Of course, it was to cause huge controversy. Perhaps the greatest scandal in video gaming history –at least with respect to the media attention and fan backlash.

To its credit, Hello Games has since worked tirelessly to implement every design they originally stated would be in the game.

Brink – SMART Movement

Almost a decade ago now, the FPS genre was at its zenith. Shooters were all the rage, and developers were keen to innovate new mechanics to distinguish their games. Brink was Bethesda’s attempt to implement a new type of traversal system to the shooter gameplay experience, but it didn’t really work out.

Called SMART (smooth movement across random terrain) movement, Bethesda invested a huge amount of effort into marketing the feature as a pioneering piece of design. What we got, though, was a fairly by the numbers FPS experience that didn’t really seem to offer anything different. Sure, there was a bit more emphasis on scaling walls and sliding, but hardly anything that one would consider notable.

As you can imagine, the underwhelming reality of SMART caused a bit of a backlash. Brink isn’t a game that’s remembered especially fondly. As a result, it’s certainly a world first mechanic that failed.

Quantum Break – Live-Action Episodes

Remedy Entertainment are specialists when it comes to third-person action games. Particularly ones that have inventive mechanics woven into the experience. In fact, they’ve already one “world first” under their belts, with Max Payne’s iconic bullet slow mechanic taking the industry by storm nearly two decades ago.

Xbox One exclusive Quantum Break’s supernatural, time-bending mechanics were cool, too, but they certainly weren’t a “world first.” Instead, Quantum Break’s big point of difference was the inclusion of an episodic live-action TV series peppered into the story.

At key moments during the game, live-action cutscenes featuring high profile actors, such as Aiden Gillen and Shawn Ashmore, expanded the story of Quantum Break. Strangely, though, several of the characters in this portion of the experience never actually showed up in the game. Many critics felt the episodes also muddied the pacing of the narrative rather than adding to it and having to download the 75GB of additional data was a real headache for players.

In the end, the one feature that was supposed to give Quantum Break a point of difference ended up hindering the experience. This is one world first that definitely flopped.

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Alex Gibson
Alex was a Senior Editor at Twinfinite and worked on the site between January 2017 and March 2023. He covered the ins and outs of Valorant extensively, and frequently provided expert insight into the esports scene and wider video games industry. He was a self-proclaimed history & meteorological expert, and knew about games too. Playing Games Since: 1991, Favorite Genres: RPG, Action