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5 Biggest Scams Ever Recorded in Gaming History

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Microtransactions aside, the gaming industry has been subject to quite a lot of disappointment from players over the years, with the vast majority of them feeling betrayed by a sneaky scam or two at some point or another. And while most developers know how to stay true to their word and keep at a fixed price with no hidden costs — some have resorted to slyly ripping off players at their lowest moments, using scams as a way to generate more income.

Of course, when I say scams, I'm talking about parties with a questionable amount of cash with very little to give its patrons in return. Yeah, those sorts of things. Scams, plain and simple. There's an abundance of them out in the wild — with many of them flocking to Kickstarter to locate their potential victims. But what can you do? It happens, and all we can really do is learn from it and move on. Unlike these five, however, which have annoyingly loitered ever since their conception. *Insert snide remark here*

5. Star Citizen

Ah yes, Star Citizen. Chances are you've already heard of it. You know — the $300 million Kickstarter project? Yeah. That one.

Having accumulated $339 million out of a $500,000 Kickstarter target since its 2012 debut, you'd have thought Star Citizen developer would've at least rolled out a few batches of content, right? Except they haven't — or at least nowhere near enough to satisfy such an enormous following. And with that amount of coin flushed into the project — it sort of goes without saying that people are beginning to get a little agitated.

Of course, great games do take time, and Star Citizen certainly isn't any sort of box standard run-of-the-mill video game with a few rehashed kinks. But having said that, with over $300 million in the bucket, you'd honestly expect a little more give than take. And until Star Citizen does start giving, supporters will, unfortunately, continue to feel exploited over something that might not ever come to fulfilment.


4. The Sims

“Oh, you wanted the full package? Silly me. That'll be another $200…”

Electronic Arts is pretty much known for shoving in a few dozen microtransactions with every half-complete package that releases into the wild. And The Sims, sadly, is just one of those unlucky platforms that also uses sly DLC as a way to bolster revenue. Little do players know, however, is that the bulk of the experience often comes enveloped in one of several expansion packs, and not the base game itself.

Whether it's a few additional outfits for your dog or a new career path for your family — expansion packs have always found ways to boost the gameplay over the years. And EA, being EA, has never had a problem with exploiting that by ringing up content pack after content pack — sometimes with only the smallest extras to go inside them. So, you can see why users brand The Sims as a scam. It's just completely unnecessary, and in no way fair to those who forked out a lot of money just to play it.


3. Shenmue III

We'll stick to the Dreamcast chapters, thanks.

After parting ways with its former Dreamcast years, Shenmue was really only destined for one final resting place — and that was in the memories of anybody who had ever tucked into the renowned treasures. That was, until it was picked up again in 2015, of course. And boy — what a rollercoaster of events that was. A show that, amazingly, involved $6 million, a couple of sly manoeuvres and a boatload of cryptic marketing strategies.

Being a franchise with a global backing, it didn't take long for Shenmue fans to pledge to the cause and ignite the fires for the third instalment. However, even after several years since its announcement, Shenmue III only unveiled a few scraps, despite having $6 million thrown into its development. Years later, it finally launched — and it was shockingly bad, and in no way what developer Ys Net had originally promised. So, with that, it was only natural for people to ask where the $6 million went — because it definitely didn't go on Shenmue III. Tut tut.


2. DreamWorld

The day DreamWorld comes to life will go down in history, like Electronic Arts will when they stop shoveling microtransactions into FIFA. Spoiler: neither are going to happen anytime soon.

Ah yes, DreamWorld: the game that was supposed to be the ultimate combination of every video game genre under the sun. Oh, and according to the team behind it — the “end game” that would ultimately put everything else in the industry to everlasting shame. So, what happened to this near-perfect vision, you ask? Well, karma, thankfully. Karma hit hard. Like, right between the eyes, in fact.

After spending a great deal of time boasting on Kickstarter about the overly-ambitious project, developer dreamworld went on to secure its milestone of $10,000 in order to start work on the Alpha. And I know what you're thinking: how on earth can a game be built with a poxy ten grand? Well, you can't. It's not possible — especially for a game of that calibre. And yet, according to the team, the funds were already supplied by “some of the “best investors in Silicon Valley”. However, with a serious lack of experience, a boatload of stolen and hackable assets — dreamworld was able to dig their own grave before even making a start on the pre-Alpha. And that remains the same to this day. It's an impossible feat that even the most knowledgeable studio couldn't bring to fruition — let alone two inexperienced guys with rash pipe dreams.


1. RAW

I hate to say it — but you will never play this game.

If the insanely ambitious life simulator game RAW never managed to hunt you down then consider yourself lucky, unlike the hundreds of thousands of other poor folks who were unfortunately robbed blind over one incredibly plausible cinematic trailer. Luckily for them, however, Kickstarter (the platform developer Killerwhale Games used to harvest its required funds) was quick to shut the campaign down after the game failed to submit enough gameplay or evidence of it actually existing.

With an open world at your disposal and an infinite number of paths to put your created character on — Killerwhale promised to build one of the most ambitious games to ever grace the industry, making Grand Theft Auto look like a cheap Android knock-off. However, despite having over $200,000 in Kickstarter funds, the team behind the game never actually released any material for it, other than the cinematic trailer which was mostly built from Unity assets. And so, before darting off into the sunset with almost quarter of a million dollars — Kickstarter was able to step in and withdraw the funding, effectively stopping one worryingly slick con artist in their tracks. Naughty, naughty.


So, what do you make of our list? Are there any gaming scams we should've added? Let us know over on our socials here.


Fed up of gaming scams? Looking for more content? You could always take a look at one of these lists:

5 Most Hated Gaming Companies, According to Players

5 Insanely Controversial Games That Shocked The World

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.