Biggest Gaming Fails and Blunders of 2023
It’s been an impactful year for gaming. There have been plenty of big, critically acclaimed releases like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Baldur’s Gate 3, and Starfield as 2023 arguably provided another creative high point for the industry.
But there has also been tons of failures: studios have been shuttered, there’s been an estimated 9,000 layoffs across the industry, and plenty of big games have flopped.
Instead of chronicling the more serious (and depressing) losses this year, this roundup aims to offer a more lighthearted—and crypto-forward—collection of the biggest gaming Ls. Grab your popcorn.
Logan Paul still hasn’t given out CryptoZoo refunds
Controversial YouTuber-turned-podcaster-turned-pro-wrestler Logan Paul cashed in on the crypto craze during the previous bull market, promoting meme coins and selling tokens for his apparently abandoned game, CryptoZoo.
It’s been almost a full year since Paul promised in early 2023 that he’d refund buyers of his CryptoZoo project, who bought animal NFTs and ZOO tokens for a game that, to this day, has yet to be released. Paul previously said he would dole out 1,000 Ethereum (currently $2.3 million worth) to angry buyers who felt cheated—but Paul has yet to actually send the funds.
Paul is still facing a lawsuit over the alleged CryptoZoo scam and has fired his legal team, according to a report from a YouTuber who published screenshots of recent legal documents.
And if all that wasn’t enough of a fail, a solo indie developer proved that a crypto-free CryptoZoo clone could be built in just a “few hours,” outperforming both Paul and the entire team he’d hired to develop the game.
YouTuber shows seed phrase on stream
In August, a blockchain gaming YouTuber accidentally revealed his wallet’s seed phrase during one of his livestreams—resulting in about $60,000 worth of assets being drained from his wallet.
The streamer was visibly devastated by the loss and was crying on the stream. He previously explained to Decrypt that he filed a police report, but said that they didn’t seem to know much about cryptocurrency, so made pleas to his community to return the funds.
After the funds were swiped from his wallet, the YouTuber claims he was in contact with someone who admitted to stealing the funds. Shortly after, about $50,000 worth of the stolen assets were surprisingly returned.
While this example has a slightly happier ending, leaking a seed phrase—and losing roughly $10,000 worth of crypto—is still a massive fail worth noting. And a lesson to all of us to be more careful when we’re streaming live to the world.
Creator League’s “secret” NFTs
This fall, the launch of a membership pass-driven competition called the “Creator League” generated tons of chatter on social media because it had big creators attached like TikTok star Bella Poarch and OTK’s Asmongold. On top of that, it was promoted by the biggest YouTuber by subscriber count, Mr. Beast.
But the Creator League quickly crumbled when one of the names attached, Connor “CDawgVA” Colquhoun, tweeted that he was backing out of the league because he didn’t know it involved the use of blockchain. OTK’s Chief Strategy Officer later told Decrypt that his organization didn’t know there was crypto involved, either.
The Creator League was then widely criticized on social media for not mentioning—or perhaps hiding—its use of blockchain tech. Making matters worse was confusing messaging. A rep for the project tried to deny that the passes were indeed NFTs, suggesting that they were instead using the blockchain to establish “transparency” with the community—while, ironically, simultaneously not telling the community about said blockchain’s use.
After widespread backlash, Creator League was quickly shelved—and multiple reports noted that eFuse had laid off 30% of its staff following the project’s failure.
Unity enrages developers
In September, game engine creator Unity announced new fees for game developers that would establish a “runtime fee” based on game downloads—as opposed to a revenue-share fee model. This immediately enraged developers, who said they were “fucking livid” (and plenty else) over the new fees and worried that it might result in studios owing more money to Unity than they’d make.
About a week later, Unity apologized for the announcement and walked back some of its changes. Most notably, it said that developers who didn’t upgrade to the 2024 version of Unity would be able to avoid the new fee, as will developers using Unity Personal. Soon after, Unity’s longtime CEO announced he was stepping down.
This year, Unity learned that angry game devs are a force to be reckoned with. The widespread, viral backlash around Unity’s controversial new fee makes it one of the biggest gaming fails of the year.
Redfall falls flat
You’ve probably heard about Bethesda’s Starfield released this year—but have you heard of its other game, Redfall?
Unfortunately, Redfall released this year to largely negative reviews, with IGN calling it “a bafflingly bad time across the board.” The Escapist called it “embarrassing for Xbox,” and Steam reviewers panned the game because of its many reported bugs, low perceived quality, and “boring story,” among other complaints. Its player count quickly plummeted to near-zero numbers by October, despite being released in May.
Valve bans streamer with lump of coal
Happy holidays—or not? This month, Valve decided to perma-ban a Dota 2 streamer known as Mason for toxicity by gifting him a virtual lump of coal.
During a stream, Mason noticed that he got a “gift” delivered to his account. He opened it—only to reveal it was a “Highly Toxic” lump of coal.
Valve has permanently banned Dota 2 streamer “Mason” for high levels of toxicity by getting him to open a Christmas gift which was just a lump of coal and his ban 😂
Never seen anything like this pic.twitter.com/YZzSZlBKhu
— Jake Lucky (@JakeSucky) December 15, 2023
“Your Dota account has been permanently banned for smurfing, or other violations of the Steam Terms of Service,” his ban notice read. “Smurfing” is when high-ranked players create new accounts to play in lower ranks and dominate lesser-skilled opponents.
A Reddit user claiming to be Mason later wrote that he’d had someone play on his account in an attempt to increase his “behavior score” in the game.
Edited by Andrew Hayward