Game Launches to Remember, or to Try and Forget


Major release dates can be celebrations of what's best about games, or reminders of their worst frustrations.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Most Recent: I skipped class to hit up my local Game Force and pick up my copy of Final Fantasy XV. It was pretty cold up in Boulder at the time, so when I got back I wrapped up in my blanket and played for the whole day, all toasty and excited about this game I had been waiting for forever.

Least Fond: I love Gravity Rush 2, but it came out the same day as Trump’s inauguration. :frowning: the two will be linked in my brain forever, which sucks.


Smash Bros Brawl. Nintendo were holding tournaments at Gamestops, so I went to the one at the mall where I worked, and got destroyed. But, I was so extremely psyched for the game that I didn’t really care.

Even though I really enjoyed the campaign mode for the game…it’s hard not to look back on that game with a perspective of “wow we were really willing to overlook some downright awful mechanical changes”.

The other one I remember was picking up World of Warcraft: Cataclysm at a store near my house doing a midnight release, and running into an ex-boyfriend who had dumped me a few months prior. That was awkward!


To remember:
Getting P5 a day early cause my Gamestop was being real cool.
The Switch midnight release with me talking to other locals
New 3DS midnight release at the Nintendo World in NYC
Getting Skyrim with the dragon statue and art book on my way to my college class

To forget:
No man’s sky when it was super early
AC3 on buying a special edition and hour in not liking how it feels and the unlikable characters and themes


My favorite game launch experience was in 2011. I stood in a long line stretched through the dingy parking lot of a strip mall GameStop just off campus. It was nearly midnight. I was to finally behold the copy of Skyrim I’d preordered so very long ago. Having fallen in love with Morrowind and later Oblivion, I was utterly ecstatic to get my hands on this supposedly paradigm shifting entry in the series. I had even spent the past few months carefully upgrading my PC in anticipation of the demands of this imminent new era of gaming.

The doors opened on time, though it would be another hour before I stood on the threshold. Soon after, I finally stood at the counter, awaiting my prize. But just as my long-awaited turn began, I was vanquished:

“I’m sorry, we’re out of stock,” she declared.


“We just sold out, I’m sorry. We don’t have any more copies.”

“I have a preorder, though. I preordered it.” I clarified.

“I understand, but we don’t have any more copies in stock, we don’t have any more preorder copies,” she explained, becoming impatient.

“Do you have non-preorder copies?” I reasoned.

“No, we don’t have any copies, we’re all out.”

“I don’t understand, I preordered it at this GameStop!” I pleaded.

This went on a for some time and things became somewhat hostile, but my fate was sealed. In my ire I demanded my pre-purchase (yes, I had prepaid) be refunded right there, and then I went home. The next day, I went to Best Buy and bought the game.

I have not preordered a game or stepped foot in a GameStop ever since.


That is always disheartening to hear stories like that. I must have good luck to having a gamestop for most of my life to be super good at getting stock.


I’ll always remember the first and only midnight launch I’ve ever been at. Galway in Ireland with my friend Cormac playing Halo ODST firefight until it was basically time to go to lectures. That was so much fun as couch co-op.


Well there are already two really great documentaries about this on youtube but the launch of Final Fantasy XIV is a very memorable one in a way that helps contextualize just how far the game has come now after its destruction, relaunch and acclaim.


The recent launch of Forza Horizon 3 sure was one to forget.

The day before people who paid extra for the most expensive edition (not included in that “Ultimate” price tag: the expansions) got to play it, the reviews started to arrive and several pointed to major stuttering issues on PC. But they came with the note that on the last day before release there had been patches and the drivers designed for the release came out and fixed it.

Only they absolutely had not fixed it for the release. That major stuttering due to being tied up with single-core performance and managing to decrypt the game as it loaded caused the PC experience to often be a long way from the expected 60fps level that was advertised, one of those few games that was not GPU-limited at high settings. It took months to actually fix the performance issues with the final fixes coming well into 2017.

This was made worse by the Xbox edition getting a pre-release demo but the PC having no public demo before release so everyone was relying on those day-1 reviews to properly inform everyone about the state of the release and that was a major dropped ball. The release version was also somewhat crash-prone, especially when accidentally clicking on any of the ads for the DLC in the game, which had not been hooked up properly in the release version. Those links (to spend more money) were the first thing to get fixed.

Oh, another “feature” MS and the Windows Store completely failed to mention (and not picked up on by reviewers) was provided for the PC version: if you weren’t online to authenticate your copy when you started the game, it just didn’t run. No message, no information, just immediately quit to the desktop. Because everyone loves hidden online DRM requirements.

Great game but everything around the PC side of the launch was the worst.


I couldn’t think of a good example until Discord mod @sparkletone mentioned Overwatch, which I just loved as a launch experience. I’m not a committed fan work producer, but I bought Overwatch near-about day one after seeing some videos and convinced a friend to take the plunge with me. It was a really great time playing my favourite game of 2016, especially dealing with the initially rough first round of necessary balance changes (OG Fan the Hammer McCree, I weep for thee still).

I’ve never been able to participate in the big day-one launches for anything (geographically out of the way, financially unable to get in the way), but the changing nature of digital games (while offering, as Shivoa outlined above, opportunities for many, well, less-than-perfect launches) has let me drunk from the same glass as everyone else on occasion. Feels pretty good.

Another example that occurred to me as one I’d probably rather forget would be Dark Souls 3. Don’t get me wrong—I really loved it. It was less the initial launch that soured me, but the experience of seeing the discourse around that game turn and shift from an initially glowing first response to a growing frustration, distaste, or (for some) dislike. A similar thing had happened with Dark Souls 2, but I had insulated myself from the discussion initially and, by the time I did engage, had already soured on the experience a little myself. It kinda sucked to have my initial enthusiasm for 3 be kinda sapped away by reading all the folks piling in on it.


Remember: The Orange Box. Discovering Portal for the first time and playing the next Half-Life chapter in THE SAME DAY.

Forget: Sonic Mania being 2+ hours late to the Nintendo Switch eShop for no discernible reason. My worst experience isn’t even that bad… but I can probably expect to relive it many times.


I’ve never really been someone who buys games on launch, but for a long while I’ve been the kind of kid who goes latched on to F2P MMOs.

This means that I played a lot of free open betas, and in a lot of cases, that means my experience with a game ends when the game wipes and launches. So, weirdly enough, a lot of game launches have meant the end of those games for me. Even if the game itself is F2P after launch, it rarely feels good to start over.


Smash 4 is overall a better game, but I will always have a warm place in my heart for Brawl if only because it’s the best midnight launch experience I’ve ever had.

I’ve only done the whole wait outside of Gamestop midnight launch song and dance a couple of times, but that’s mainly because my first time doing it was my only positive time. It was the launch night of Brawl, and the line was not the insanely long thing it typically is at most of these. Me and 4 of my buddies got there like 15 minutes before midnight, and we passed the time having fun conversations with other people in line about who our mains were and hot Smash strats. Then when we got the game we went over to my friend’s house and played it until the sun came up.

This is more recent than favorite, but I will say that WoW: Legion had the most shockingly clean launch I have ever seen in an MMO. No queues, no server overload, you didn’t even need to log out and log back in, once midnight rolled round you could go to the new continent.


Monday, October 25, 2004.

I get a call from a clerk at then EB Games telling me that after 6 or 7PM, I could come down to their location and pick up my reserved copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The light rail system installed in our area was still relatively new and was excited to have easy access to the mall from where I lived. I scrambled to get to the station because I was not passing up the opportunity to play the newest Grand Theft Auto the evening before it officially launches. Got to the mall, there’s a massive line outside the door–for RESERVED copies! Didn’t care. Stood on the line, chatted with people, a pretty jovial atmosphere–waited maybe an hour or two overall. Got my copy. Caught my train back and played late into the night (I had classes the next day, but didn’t care).

Honestly the best time I had at the launch of a game before Switch/Zelda: BOTW day.


I walked 30 mins. one way across town to pick up Mario 3D Land, without calling ahead to make sure my local Gamestop was open. Turns out they opened an hour later than I thought, so I sat shivering on a bench with no games or phone to occupy me for an hour so I could get the game, and then walked another 30 mins. home so I could play it, it was totally worth it.


Fallout 4 is the only game I ever bought at midnight on release, hyped after waiting like 5 years for a fallout game. Drove to a 24 hour Walmart pretty far away right after a long shift at work that night to grab a copy. It ran like garbage on PS4 for weeks and then I realized it’s also just a bad game. Not the most eventful story, but still a bummer looking back.


The Wrath of the Lich King launch, appropriately enough on a chilly November morning, because I remember looking out through the bus window at a queue of people standing outside the Warsaw office of CD Projekt, the Polish distributor of physical copies of WoW at the time, I guess to pick up their preorders? For probably the first time in my life, I felt connected to these complete strangers through what I’d been mostly taught to regard as a childish and frivolous hobby, and the fact we’d all be rolling a death knight in a few hours. (My copy came in the mail later that day, I think.)

Of course, they may just have been employees out for a fire drill or something. Maybe I saw that queue on a different day and my brain made up a satisfying little anecdote about it. It’s honestly hard to say after almost 10 years. I like my version better though.


Take comfort in the fact that you’re right, and they’re wrong. Dark Souls 3 is great.