2022 was a huge bummer of a year for a lot of reasons, and buggy video games only exacerbated that feeling. It really does suck to shell out $US60 ($83) or, as is quickly becoming the norm, $US70 ($97) on something that is fundamentally broken at launch, especially if that something was created under exploitative working conditions.
While I’m hoping the games industry learns its lesson — to stop overworking employees and provide more resources for development — I have a feeling we’ll be back here next year. So until then, let’s focus a magnifying glass on some of this year’s buggiest games. From Madden 23 to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, here are the most busted games of 2022:
As was the case in 539 B.C. after it came under Persian control, Babylon has fallen once again. But instead of the ancient capital city, we’re talking about a video game developed by PlatinumGames, the prolific studio behind some exquisitely polished and highly stylish action titles such as Bayonetta and Nier: Automata.
Unfortunately for Babylon’s Fall, it was neither polished nor stylish when it launched on March 3. Blurry, repetitive, and tedious, Babylon’s Fall was so bad it became one of the PlayStation 5’s lowest-rated games on review aggregate site Metacritic. Sure, it wasn’t plagued by overt bugs in the same way Battlefield 2042 or eFootball 2022 were, but the issues — ranging from enemies not spawning to the game occasionally not booting up at all — earned its spot as the PS5’s new worst game. And it’s a shame; PlatinumGames knows how to make a good action title. Sadly, Babylon’s Fall just ain’t it. It’s since dropped to a single person playing the game, with GameStop getting rid of the game just before its servers officially shut down in February 2023.
Dragon Ball: The Breakers
This is one of those games I feel went under the radar — and probably for good reason. An asymmetrical Dead By Daylight-style online survival action game by Dimps, Dragon Ball: The Breakers belly flopped onto the market when it launched on October 14. It was bad and afflicted with copious glitches — like characters falling through the world and successful evacuation sequences not triggering — all of which made it semi-unplayable. It wasn’t reviewed well either, garnering a score of 55 on both Metacritic and OpenCritic.
The Breakers was an interesting take on the stereotypical power fantasies offered in other Dragon Ball games, though, tasking survivors with cooperating to avoid complete annihilation from villains like Cell, Frieza, and Majin Buu. Unfortunately, “interesting” only goes so far if the execution isn’t there, and Dragon Ball: The Breakers lacked the execution. But hey, Frieza may be bi, so I guess that’s something.
Another year, another buggy soccer game. It wasn’t as bad as Konami’s eFootball 2022, but EA’s FIFA 23 still had a bevy of bugs and glitches that solidified its place on this list. Players would careen off the screen after collisions on the field. Despite having wide-open shots, characters would still completely miss the goal. There were even instances of the ball just straight-up ghosting, with players kicking and defending nothing but the air. The game was still pretty popular among reviewers, according to Metacritic and OpenCritic, but its many issues didn’t do it any favours. FIFA 23 has also been mired in controversy as the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar, a country criticised for its human rights violations and mistreatment of its LGBTQ citizens. It’s a bad look, one that makes FIFA 23‘s technical woes all the more glaring under the increased scrutiny.
I didn’t experience any issues during my time with WB Games Montréal’s spectacle fighter Gotham Knights, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t pretty buggy when it came out on October 21 — it definitely was. In fact, some people encountered quite a few game-breaking problems in its initial release window, from slipping into and getting stuck in un-enterable buildings to falling through the world to enemies becoming invincible and invisible while in combat. Heck, even certain characters’ capes would face the wrong way or disappear entirely while exploring the dark streets of Gotham City. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction, and at the worst of times, too. It wasn’t as messy as some of the other games on this list — it was more mid than anything else — but Gotham Knights still needed a hero to save it from its plentiful flaws. I don’t know who could do it, but I do know one thing: Batgirl, the true protagonist, is the best character by far.
You know you fucked up when professional players from the sports franchise your IP is based on start dragging it to Hell. This is exactly what happened to EA’s Madden 23 when it dropped on August 19. The bugs were truly awful with this one: random geometry would appear on the field as if the players were trapped in some kind of maze, players on the same team would inexplicably trip each other in the middle of plays, and there was even signage for a Super Bowl that happened five years ago. I guess EA invited time travel and didn’t patent it or anything.
Jokes aside, Madden 23‘s bugs were so egregious that, alongside ruining plays, players started to lose their progress. You read that right: The bugs that would cause it to crash or freeze ended up costing players progress in Franchise mode, a component of Madden 23 in which you manage one or several teams over multiple seasons. As you might assume, players have had enough, and I imagine John Madden is rolling in his grave.
Blizzard’s Overwatch 2, which launched and officially replaced the original game on October 4, definitely wasn’t ready for prime time when it came out. This one suffered from a plethora of issues. There were massively overcrowded servers and long queue times due in part to an extensive DDoS attack, the SMS Protect phone requirement has been a particular point of contention among low-income players, and whole characters — such as Bastion and Mei — were pulled from the game for weeks because of bugs. Overwatch 2 was also riddled with glitches, like players getting stuck in their spawn rooms or blasting off to the skybox like a rocket heading off to space. Things are seemingly better now following updates, but it had a rough go at launch.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Speaking of “rough go at launch,” Game Freak’s Pokémon Scarlet and Violet games are still in pretty rough shape after their November 18 launch. You’ve probably seen all the game’s flaws and glitches if you’ve spent time scrolling through any part of the internet in recent days, or maybe you read about them all here on Kotaku’s pages. Either way, these twin releases are some of the most busted games of this year.
Scenery would disappear when you threw a Poké Ball. Characters’ limbs would contort like they’re competing in a bone-breaking dance competition. Pokémon would vanish entirely, whether that was during open-world exploration, in the middle of combat, or both. These games have just been an absolute mess, with a patch causing some folks to question if anything was fixed while others attempted to get their money back. Even Nintendo acknowledged the haphazard state the games have been in, which really is saying something. In spite of its copious issues and performance hiccups, though, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are still being enjoyed by fans the world over. That’s nice. Now, only if the games actually worked like they were supposed to.
Volition’s reboot of the Saints Row series had quite a few issues when it landed on August 23. Aside from many of the same bugs repeatedly brought up here rearing their heads in Saints Row — characters falling through the world, enemies taking no damage, bizarre character animations, etcetera — there were other problems that prevented the game from starting on PC or locked up the weapon change menu wheel during combat. Critics trashed it for its poor performance and lacklustre execution,fans weren’t too receptive of it, and even Volition’s parent company Embracer Group sounded kind of disappointed about Saints Rows sales back in September. If you were hoping for a Grand Theft Auto clone to tide you over until GTA VI comes out (whenever that happens), Saints Row might not satiate that hunger of yours.
The launch of Infinity Ward and Raven Software’s Warzone 2.0 hasn’t been too great. An updated and expanded version of the popular battle royale of the same name, Warzone 2.0 has been plagued by some hilarious defects since it came out on November 16. There’s the usual stuff here: T-posed characters, people slipping through the world, the game straight-up crashing — you know, common occurrences if you’ve played or seen the game in action at all. Then there are supposed invisible players that have long afflicted the original game, making it difficult to track down who downed you in a firefight. Warzone 2.0 isn’t as busted as, say, Madden 23 or Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, but hey: Buggy is buggy, and no, I’m not talking about One Piece.
And that’s that. Though there’s still a couple of weeks left in the year, meaning it’s entirely possible another, buggier game could come out before 2023 gets underway, but these have been the nine most busted games of 2022. If I were to give out an award here, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet would dethrone CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 and eFootball 2022 as the most broken game in recent memory. Next year may see some equally flawed games, but here’s hoping none of them will match this year’s offerings.
With Christmas around the corner, you know what I’m hoping for? That publishers and executives give their developers the money and time to create the things they’re passionate about. Everyone wins when we’re happy and taken care of, and though we live in late-stage capitalism that prefers profit and production over the well-being of the working class, I still have hope things will change. Unionize your workforce if you can, folks.