The 5 best gaming industry redemption arcs

Screenshot from No Man's Sky.
(Image credit: Hello Games)

The gaming industry has seen plenty of titles that manage to live up to the hype, but the opposite could also be said. There have been so many PC games that were hyped up to be ‘genre-defining’ or sometimes even ‘industry changing’ but due to buggy launches or troubled development periods end up arriving in a less-than-stellar state.

They promise so many things and the gameplay trailer looks so good, only for them to cut out most of the features people were interested in. Bah. However, a select few of those same games have now become so good and popular that the very memory of them being broken or not worth playing has now faded away.

Thanks to some loyal fans (and sometimes internet memes) surrounding those games, these developers have realized that all is not lost, putting in the hours to improve these games even after a disastrous launch, ultimately redeeming their titles to result in games that are genuinely amazing. Who are these developers? Well, let’s take a look!



(Image credit: Digital Extremes)

Warframe is now an incredibly popular free-to-play action RPG title. But that wasn’t always the case.

Upon its open beta release in 2013, it launched to little fanfare and the game was nothing special. It had little to separate itself from other great titles that were available at the time; it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t that good either. The game had some elements that were fun - such as the parkour-focused movement system - but most people weren’t fully convinced by it. It had too many repetitive elements and the gameplay simply wasn’t great.

However, since then, the developers behind Warframe, Digital Extreme, have been updating the game constantly, bringing new gameplay mechanics, new features and so much more! All those maps, missions, and weapons have made the game so much more interesting, with major updates in 2017 and 2019 bringing old fans back into the fold while also reeling in new players.

Digital Extreme has been constantly monitoring the forums, listening to loyal fans of the game and doing its best to meet player demands. Warframe is somewhat legendary in the industry for its stellar community management, previously headed by Rebb Ford, who also voices a major character in the game and has since been promoted to creative director.

This personal and dedicated approach to community management has paid dividends for the developer, and Warframe is now one of the most successful free-to-play games out there.

Sea of Thieves

best Xbox Series X games: a fleet of ships in Sea of Thieves

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

If you love pirates and want to sail the high seas, Sea of Thieves is the game for you. It features so many gorgeous locations, which paired with the lovely handling of the ships results in a piratical game that can keep you entertained for hours on end.

During its launch in 2018, gamers were hyped for the game and expectations were high. Similarly nautical games like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, a game that focused on pirate Edward Kenway, had seen so much success - and is considered one of the best Assassin’s Creed games to this day. Gamers were expecting Sea of Thieves to be the flagship (ho ho) title for pirate-themed games.

But unfortunately, the developer Rare barely matched the expectations of those who eagerly looked forward to playing the game. There were very few things that players could do back during the initial release – raid islands, explore locations, and search for treasure. It looked like Rare would see their ship sink. 

But they were determined to keep players on board and steer the ship in the right direction. Thanks to a constant stream of updates that have massively improved the game, Sea of Thieves is now widely beloved by players and considered one of the best games for simply mucking about with some friends. It has so many monsters, more missions, and also a single-player campaign with a story that will keep you hooked! (Okay, no more pirate puns - Ed.)

Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017)

Screenshot from Star Wars Battlefront 2.

(Image credit: EA)

The original Star Wars Battlefront 2, made by Pandemic in 2005, is a game that many gamers hold fond nostalgic memories of. However, DICE tried to make this reboot fit in with the modern era of gaming. The result? A game that was severely unbalanced, with poor maps and tons of microtransactions that gave paying players many advantages over those who couldn’t shell out a few bucks to unlock the premium characters.

The game received so much criticism that it damaged the image of the studio and very few players touched it for quite a while. DICE and publisher EA decided to massively change things due to the negative player feedback, and fortunately things turned around (albeit slowly).

Since its troubled release, DICE has added loads of content: new maps based on iconic movie locations, tons of different characters, and unique new game modes. The gunplay - one of the few features of the initial version that held up - remained great, and a reworking of the game's microtransaction system lowered the barrier to entry.

The game has grown so much since its launch and it still looks stunning to this day. While it doesn’t receive any updates nowadays since the developers have other projects to work on, the game is still insanely fun to play and is worth giving a shot if you see it on sale.


A cast of Fortnite characters

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Fortnite hasn’t always been the blockbuster battle royale that completely changed pop culture. Initially, the game was a co-op sandbox title that saw players building bases while fighting off waves of enemies. It was fun enough, but at the beta stage it wasn't exactly leaving huge impressions; there were already other games doing the same thing better.

At the same time, the famous battle royale PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was making waves and was all the rage. Epic Games enacted a violent 180 turn, shifting Fortnite's entire premise over to a battle royale format - but keeping the base-building mechanics and colorful, approachable art style of the original game.

As you are no doubt aware, the popularity of Fortnite quickly exploded. Everyone from popular celebrities started playing the game and on top of it, a lot of concerts and movie trailers have debuted within the game itself. Epic turned an unspectacular shooter into one of the most popular games of this generation.

No Man's Sky

Screenshot from No Man's Sky.

(Image credit: Hello Games)

If any game should serve as the poster child for this article, then it has to be No Man’s Sky by indie developer Hello Games. We couldn't not include it; everyone in the gaming sphere knows about the heroic redemption of NMS.

The game was massively hyped up during development as an enormous space-exploration game - so enormous, in fact, that it was practically unlimited, with advanced procedural generation technology employed to create an entire universe of stars and planets. Players would be able to fight, build, and explore, with a strong emphasis on the latter.

But once it lifted off, the game came straight crashing down. The game was so buggy, monotonous, unfinished, and overall just unsatisfying. The randomly-generated worlds felt lifeless and empty. This might not have been the worst thing in the world if it wasn't for the incredibly high expectations fans had, and the developers' choice to keep feeding the hype engine with unmet promises.

Hello Games didn't lie down and accept its fate, though. The money from initial sales was poured right back into development, resulting in a veritable tidal wave of DLC expansions. These ranged from smaller additions like the Exo Mech and Living Ship add-ons (the latter of which added, you guessed it, a living spaceship) to wild, massive updates like the horror-themed Desolation and The Abyss, which completely overhauled the game's underwater regions.

NMS even got a VR release, which was great fun. The average Steam rating has gone from Overwhelmingly Negative to Mostly Positive in six years, with recent reviews providing a Very Positive average. If anything is worthy of being a blueprint of how a bad game can eventually become great, this is the one other developers should look at.

Freelance Writer