Running Out of Steam: 4 “Esports” That Haven’t Quite Made It


Steam. It’s an amazing place. The digital descendant of the exciting back section of Blockbuster video (no, not that back section) that had endless shelves of the best games within tantalizing reach. Old favorites, new releases and more, it was all there just for you. All you had to do was get down to the store and pay. We never thought it could be any easier.

Now, you don’t even have to leave your bedroom. Hell, you don’t even have to leave your bed to access more than Blockbuster could ever fit in one building. What a time to be alive.

However high levels of availability, unfortunately, don’t guarantee any level of quality.

Like any enormous varied repository of media, Steam contains some dark corners that are best left unexplored. Netflix has Irreverent Films, Spotify has ‘Feel Good Friday and Steam has the search results for ‘esports.’

Today we’re going to examine some choice cuts from this pantheon of horrors, and hopefully, emerge from the other side far more appreciative of the quality of popular esports games.

Painkiller: Resurrection

Surprisingly not an experimental strain of pharmaceuticals, or a Vin Diesel movie. Painkiller Resurrection is the 4th entry in the Painkiller franchise, an FPS released in 2009. The story follows recently deceased protagonist Bill Sherman as he battles demons in purgatory on orders from heaven, in an attempt to redeem himself after accidentally blowing up a bus full of civilians in an attempt to assassinate a South American Cartel boss.

…maybe this was a Vin Diesel movie.

The original Painkiller games get relatively solid reviews, it’s reminiscent of a low-budget Doom equivalent that was late to the table. However, despite being developed ‘with a Catholic Priest advising’, it seems that Resurrection falls short of its’ predecessor, and was maybe even responsible for killing the series for good. Nevertheless, I’m sure hours of fun can be had playing all 6 levels containing ‘enormous, explorable regions containing the worst scum of any hell’

Likelihood to blow up: 4/666 Satanic Clown Monsters

Pro Gamer Manager 2

Ever wanted to manage a successful esports team? PGM 2 allows you to do just that, without any of those pesky side effects that could crop up as a result of your hard work like awards, praise, money or fame.

Coming hot off the heels of the first Pro Gamer Manager, which was also widely despised, and never making it beyond the alpha phase, PGM 2 was a total mess. Hampered by a studio with financial issues just before release, PGM 2 has no doubt murdered the dreams of many aspiring esports managers. Though not strictly a game that could take off as an esport, itself, its’ contribution to the industry shouldn’t be underestimated.

There is much more I could say, however, I could never be as succinct as the only positive review I could find for this game on Steam:

Likelihood to blow up: 3/200 Dead Aunts

Down to One

It was only a matter of time until we hit a Battle Royale game, albeit one that sounds like a Jennifer Aniston Movie about all her dogs running away.

Since release, it’s been incredibly rare to find a server that’s running, let alone one with anyone playing on it. This makes the advertised capability of 246 players at once seem rather distant.

With infuriatingly slow walking, only one glitchy and poorly rendered map, objects that can be interacted with to no effect whatsoever, Down To One rises to possibly claim a significant mantle: The Worst Battle Royale Game Ever.

Likelihood to blow up: 5/1200 Remove from Store Requests

Cannons Lasers Rockets

I know what you’re thinking, surely a game with a name like that has to be a success. Considerable care has been taken, there have clearly been focus groups involved.

No? Oh well, at least you won’t be disappointed.

Released in 2014, the 2D spaceship MOBA looks great initially contains all the elements promised in the title and more. However, it quickly becomes obvious that only being able to move left and right isn’t indicative of real space combat. That and the game tends to ignore your commands. It also lags. A lot.

Many inquisitive Steam users were lured in by the promise of realistic space battles, only to end up floating aimlessly past their objectives, waiting furiously for their controllers to respond.

Likelihood to blow up: 1/3D Spaceship Combat Environment

Imagine, if you will, a godforsaken world somewhere in a parallel universe where CS:GO, LoL, Dota 2 and their ilk were never invented. Instead, twitch is teeming with Painkiller: Resurrection streamers, largely fighting their way through repetitive hellscapes in a desperate struggle for relevance. Earth-2 Ninja is starting his 35th game of Down to One for the day, praying silently that he won’t be seen through a wall and killed by a stream sniper. EA executives are crowding around a table, calculating how much DLC they can really add to a game with no active servers. Suddenly Fortnite doesn’t seem so bad.

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