Many a video/computer game has met a fate not unlike that of a supernova – to burn hot and bright, but only for a short time. By no means is this an exhaustive collection, but here’s a few that stick out in my mind:
Pokémon Go: Niantic Labs made this game after pioneering the same concept of augmented-reality gaming with Ingress, which has a devoted fanbase, but not nearly of the size that could be achieved, it turns out, by coating it in the veneer of a media franchise which has integrated itself into the childhoods of a generation, or maybe even two by now. It was (and still is) the closest thing we have to a real-life Pokémon experience, enabling you to walk down your street, catch Pokémon, and pit them against others’ Pokémon in battle, while still retaining some of Ingress’ more territorial gameplay. And with all the people it enticed outside, especially to areas rich in PokéStop-containing landmarks, Pokémon Go has done more to revitalize Brandon’s downtown than anything else in recent memory, even if only for a short while.
Goat Simulator: You can play games that plunge you into worlds of strategy, fantasy and heroism. You can control armies of entire nations, explore outer space and all its strange worlds, or even save the world as we know it from annihilation. Or, you can play Goat Simulator, and be a goat who headbutts and licks things. This game was finished by Coffee Stain Studios in the span of a few months after releasing a YouTube video of the game in an unfinished alpha state. The “finished” version was (and still is) quite rough around the edges, but that’s what makes it fun, along with its sandbox environment where, like Whose Line is it Anyway, “everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.”
DayZ: All you PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds players, this is the ARMA 2 mod to which you owe all the fun you’re having. Of course, DayZ also has zombies to fight, which are the main challenge for low-level players. As for the players who’ve accumulated scads of loot, though, the player-versus-player element was the most challenging, and the most fun, even if the mod as a whole was a buggy mess slapped on top of an already-buggy, super-complex military simulator. It even got people to buy ARMA 2 just so they could play DayZ (myself included, though the Escape Chernarus mod was tons of fun as well). However, the standalone version, which came into existence some time after the mod, never quite captured the same interest, and games like the aforementioned Battlegrounds have distilled DayZ’s essence of PvP into whole games by themselves, which capture the bulk of gamers’ interest these days.
FarmVille: This is a game that isn’t especially good at anything, compared to others in its genre. Want a hardcore simulation featuring all sorts of modern machinery? Try the Farming Simulator series. Want a bright, peppy, fantasy atmosphere? Try Stardew Valley, or any of the classic Harvest Moon games. Did you like classic SimCity? Break out your 486 for some SimFarm (and if you ever figure out how to fly the crop duster, let me know). But by virtue of being on Facebook, FarmVille took off like a rocket, and grew to be loved by its players, and loathed by non-players who kept getting notifications about it. Though once the most popular game on Facebook, it now sits in disuse, along with its sequel, FarmVille 2 (which, in the most recent data I could find, sat in 42nd place).