Yesterday, we asked you to share your worst PC gaming stories. You delivered.
I’ve now read through hundreds of tales of busted hardware, online jerks, childhood heartbreak, ruinous DRM, and PCs that actually caught fire. (Thankfully, there were no submissions about dead cockroaches.) I’ve pulled out some of my favorites and collected them below. For more, visit the original post.
I’ve bolded key bits for emphasis and readability, and broken these into a few different groups: The Hardware, The Old School, The People, The Games, and The DRM. (Guess which one makes people maddest?)
Ready? Let’s do this.
mdrewitt kicks us off in style:
Playing counterstrike on my gaming PC when all of a sudden, BSOD! Oh no, look over, see a 6 inch flame flying out the top of my tower as it tries to reboot. I proceed to yell at the computer for being so dumb as to reboot while on fire. Spend next few hours ripping the machine apart and stuffing my enormous graphics card in a tiny prebuilt to use until I could afford to by a new motherboard. Luckily none of the other parts died due to the fire.
So I redid my computer a few years back with a new 500 watt power supply to run everything and a new graphics card. Good stuff.
Anyhoo in right in the middle of playing the witches two when suddenly I hear a loud bang and flames shoot out from the back of my desktop. I could then smell a burning sensation.
Turns out the power supply exploded or something .
It didn’t damage any other computer components but it was still really annoying since it was past the return period.
a cautionary tale – i spent an hour wondering why my neighbour was burning plastic, turns out the resistors in my power supply had melted! If id kept playing any longer i would have needed a lot more than a new psu. Moral of the story? Do not skimp when u buy your power supply and avoid cooler master products
Otis Whitaker has a pretty great one:
I once bought a PC from my friend in Texas in 2005. Seems normal so far. Yeah, well, inside the PC was a dried up biscuit. He didn’t know how it got there. I didn’t know how it got there. It was just a big, dried up, entire biscuit stuffed behind the hard drive. It was so old, and dried that it was practically a biscuit rock.
I was sitting at my desk and I crossed my legs. I bumped the desk and an open waterbottle I was drinking toppled over, and directly into my computer case. Immediately I heard a ZZzzzzt, my screen went black, and I saw smoke. I had fried my Motherboard and PSU. Took me a month to save up to replace everything, it was a boring December. When I finally did I had some extra funds and upgraded to a GTX 980. (I was running a 770, that was luckily undamaged). Serves me right for keeping drinks nearby my case, never again, the case is now far away from any possible spills.
Jikosei has an uncanny experience:
Years ago, I was playing Metro 2033, and I had gotten to a part where I was staring down a hall, and there were people talking. One of them said something along the lines of “The End Is Near,” and as they said it, my PC shut off. I was like, ‘WHOA. WHAT. THE HELL?’ Turned it back on, got to the desktop, and it shut off again, and then I tried turning it on once more, it promptly died, signifying my motherboard was dead. Scariest/worst thing that ever happened, but that timing was ridiculous.
myspot makes me sad:
Building a PC is just a total nightmare for me. So far, I have broken two processors because of my own carelessness. I know that it’s not that hard to build PC since you only have to plug everything to its ports and then you’re ready to go, but damn those hardwares are just too fragile, especially in my own slippery hands. 🙁
i got a message on my cellphone saying that he burned one of our brand new AMD Opteron CPUs (almost sure it was a SledgeHammer since we used to joke a lot about its temperatures).
When I arrived at our datacenter (since It was my job to fix hardware abominations and all that diabolical stuff our interns often did) I found this guy tearing up because he just fucked up one of our most expensive machines. I calmed him down saying it was probably just a hardware failure (common back in the day) and our insurance would cover everything as usual. Oh how wrong I was… He pointed me to the burnt tower and I started asking him where weverything went wrong. He proceded to explain that everything went fine in the assembly process but when he tried to boot up the machine flames came from the back of the tower. I thought “OK, must be the PCB, no big deal”. But when I opened it I found out a almost melted CPU heatsink. I was shocked, how the heck would something like that happen? If he followed the manufacturer instructions there was no way, even with a faulty CPU, that kind of damage occured. After inquiring him for a while we found out the problem: He applied “Arctic Silver 5” on the wrong side of the CPU.
BadassNoor has a disastrous encounter with nature:
So, I was playing Dark Souls 2, on my beautiful tri-monitor set-up with my 1337 PC master-race gaming PC, in my awesome man-cave in the basement. I’m on a streak of enemy kills without a death, got a rare weapon that I’ve wanted for a while, and then… a flood happened. Needless to say, I lost more than my save data.
Back in high school, I got my first part-time job working at an Electronics Boutique (better known as Gamestop these days) and finally saved up enough money to buy an Alienware computer of my own, something that could actually run the latest and greatest like Max Payne. Twas a dream! Until a few months later there was a lightning storm that I hold responsible for my computer’s unique symptom. At the time, I called it ‘zoinking,’ which became popular nomenclature among my friends online and at LAN parties. Certain games, often ones I found to be particularly intensive graphically, would ‘zoink’ my computer, which is when it would just turn off and reboot.
At the time, none of us knew what to do, and none of us had started building our own computers just yet so we had nary a spare part lying around to properly diagnose the issue. Oh the agony of reaching an intense moment in a particularly competitive game, only to have my computer forfeit! What was frustrating is some games would cause it to zoink, but others not so much. For example, I could reliably play hours of Counter-Strike with no problem (though it may occasionally zoink). But Worms wouldn’t work at all, it always caused my computer to zoink, very soon in the game, allowing me a small 5 minute taste, and then bam! So when my friends got really into that title, I did not, and I was always poorer at it when we hung out on the weekends and played at a friend’s house.
My first computer build utilized a cheap case with pack-in PSU, which fried itself and the DVD drive, less than 30 seconds after my first successful post. There was smoke.
I openly wept in front of my girlfriend. She had no idea what to do.
Malloc has a saga:
Mine was getting started in the first place.
I played PC games as a kid because my friend’s dad worked for a telephonics company and had a beefy-for-the-time 486 with a CD-ROM. One of the ones where you had to put the CD in a carriage first. I have fond memories of playing Doom, Doom 2, Heretic, Hexen, Monkey Island, and Return to Zork on there.
Eventually though, everyone got a Sega Genesis or an SNES and I more or less stuck to consoles, save for a brief foray into the world of Duke Nukem 3D, Deus Ex, and the original Half-Life, until 2004. My roommate at the time decided to blow the bank on a new PC, and that is when I saw Doom 3 for the first time.
My roommate explained what a gaming computer really was, a DIY dream machine.
I foolishly didn’t listen, and convinced my girlfriend to go in halfsies with me on a Gateway “Media PC”. figuring something that cost $1,600 or so should totally be able to play Doom 3. Right?
You guys, I tried. I tried to make that damn thing work for so long. I found out the graphics card in it was garbage, necessitating another $400 on a top of the line graphics card. Except, whoops, it was a single-core Pentium 5, so that actually bottlenecked the graphics card. Bought a dual core only to find out that the socket wouldn’t fit it. Tried to make due with the CPU only to have the power supply blow out. Tried to put in a new power supply only to realize Gateway used proprietary screw placements specifically so you couldn’t do that.
I had one screw holding that power supply in for years.
After all the monkeying around with it, the motherboard began eating whatever graphics card I had in there. Artifacts would start showing up in my games. UI elements would disappear. Textures would come off of polygons and stretch into infinity. If anyone remembers the graphics card company BFG, they were goddamned saints through this and dutifully replaced every fried card I sent them for free, in one instance even giving me a free upgrade.
I don’t know if I stuck with that PC out of spite or Stockholm Syndrome or what, but I did until it was finally, really, well and truly dead. I’ve since pried that dumb CPU out of there and now it lives in a pen holder on my desk.
I’m happy to say I now build PCs on the regular and even converted several co-workers over to join the PC Gaming side (I work in the games industry so it’s pretty much a given that every co-worker plays games). Every time they’ve asked “So which one should I buy?” I answer with “Oh you build it yourself.” I get a look of terror, and sometimes some lukewarm statements to the effect “Well these premades don’t look so bad, and it’s probably about as expensive, and—”
“NO. YOU BUILD YOUR OWN. I have been down the supposedly easier road. Do not make that mistake.”
THE OLD SCHOOL
Alsandair gets right down to it:
Need I say more?
MrDioneo goes all the way back:
When I was a kid we had a Colecovision Adam. There was hardly any software out for it at first (eventually it had Dragon’s Lair!) My dad ordered us a cassette of game software, and most of it was fine but underwhelming. The biggest game (by file size) was a text adventure game. Written in basic. It would crash when trying to load it, due to an error with the programming. Like a GOTO line was pointing to the wrong place or something. I wasn’t good enough to debug it. I still sometimes wonder if that game was any good.
Methusalah shares a common sentiment:
Hands down the worst PC gaming experience I’ve had was when, after spending nearly two months learning league of legends by researching how to play my chosen champion, watching videos of how to play the game, and playing against the cpu, I began playing against human opponents only to be derided, insulted, and humiliated by my teammates (including one of my real-life friends). I didn’t take it all that personally, but it completely drained any possible enjoyment I could find in the game and killed my interest in spending any more time with it.
Voxavs has a counter:
Rockstar Social Club.
NotGoodForYou agrees about that:
I honestly didn’t think it could get worse than the League community.
I was wrong.
WarmCoat goes bigger:
The constant, every day, superiority complex that PC gamers have. It’s a constant hell.
I agree it’s the best overall “next gen” platform at the moment (I’m still stuck on PS3 and Wii U), but to a total outsider is kind of like picking up a new language. A new language that everybody speaks slightly differently and where people don’t mind calling you an idiot if you say something wrong.
Every time I bring up a model for a laptop I think is pretty good (I can’t go for a tower computer), they’re like “OMG You got ripped off!” or “Those specs suck! That card was outdated last year!”
Doesn’t make it any easier that graphics cards which are better apparently have a lower numerical name for some reason.
Sora Hjort shares a tale of Terraria woe:
It’s hard to really get me pissed off at a game, even in multiplayer. There has really only been one event where I was having a freakout. Looking back at it, there must of been other things going on in my life at the time that just compounded it. But here it is.
A few years back, I was house sitting my parent’s place. I was playing Terraria. It’s a bit hard for me to build up the courage to join a random server, always worried about people being assholes and what not. I found a server listed on the Terraria forums that basically said “No griefing allowed, staff are friendly and respectful” and so on. So I joined it.
I was having fun, I had built a house under a hill, and planted trees on top. The base was coming along nicely, people for the most part kept to themselves which was alright with me. I even had a sign saying it was my place. Then a mod came by. He hung around, being creepy just following me around, but I went about doing my thing. He then decided to be “helpful”, he started cutting down my trees, and I asked him to stop. He stopped. He started to dig a new entrance to my place, I asked him to stop, he stopped. He started ‘rearranging’ my place, i asked him to stop, he stopped. He was starting to another thing, don’t recall what it was, but at that point I told him “How about you go and help someone else”
Apparently he didn’t like that cause he then banned me for a day. I raged. It was good that no one other than the pets were around cause I had a fit, stomping around the house just screaming. Seriously, looking back at it, I’m surprised I even did that. But it just pissed me off a lot. The guy was obviously a six to ten year old or something.
The next day I tried to reconnect, and was able to get back on. I went to my place and… everything was taken over by this asshole. All the furniture was replaced with bookcases. They had placed signs all over the place saying it was his place do not steal. I tried to bring it up with the admin, and other players that this guy did this and I either got no response or a “ha ha!”
It pissed me off even more, but at that point, I felt so defeated. Ever since then I have never joined a public Terraria server. And because of it, I have a even harder time joining a public Minecraft server. Haven’t given Starbound a try yet, would probably have better luck at hiding from people there….
So yeah, that was my rage experiance. Hopefully the only one I’ll ever have.
oilcovereddaddy1 says what everyone was thinking:
Charlie Burnor has a terrifying tale:
Back around 2002 I was a post-undergraduate with too much unemployed time on my hands, which Diablo 2 multiplayer was happy to inhale into its endgame void. It was a spastic, weird environment with a single general chat channel that was mostly spammers and scammers trying to pretend they were from Blizzard to get naive players’ account info. Unless you knew someone in real life, getting to trust someone wasn’t easy. Also, DSL was high-end to have at home back then, so it was gaming on dial-up for me. Disconnects and lost instances were a regular and unfortunate occurrence.
But there was one guy who I hung out with pretty often and had helped me out, and vice versa, on boss runs and such. We would use the Sorceress to teleport through the entire instance to Mephisto, chill in the corner of the boss room, and cast firewall across the opposite corner to where it killed him without even engaging. Boss farming, good times! The economy in the game was based on gold pieces, but players quickly maxed the carry amount, so it was worthless. The real currency was the rare Stone of Jordan ring. I had a dozen or so, which I am ashamed to admit, represented months of work. (In hindsight, it’s probably time to leave a game when you call time spent playing it “work”).
I had wanted to transfer them to an alternate, so I could get some armor or some crap. But the only way to do this, at the time, was to open a game, have a buddy join you in it, drop the items somewhere randomly on the map, log off and come back with the alt, and get the items. So I come back, and try to join his game with the alt. Player is not online. Blood rushes to my head, and the gravity in the room shifts a little. Are you kidding me?
Darth Vader said it well:
This buddy logged back on immediately, which kind of assured me he had a legitimate disconnect, but he still could have robbed me blind. I don’t think my little pixelated Diablo 2 heroes saw any action after that. Game over.
animaniac‘s story is a tragedy years in the making:
my story started last millennium:
In 2000, my parents decided to buy a laptop. Since our then computer had almost zero gaming capabilities, I was pretty excited. When I saw a vampire: redemption CD (it was darker times, no steam) at a reasonable price, I forked it, even though it was still a lot for me at the time. I hurried back home, installed the game staring at the progress bar and
it didn’t work
after much tinkering, the non-tech savvy younger me finally understood that the laptop was almost as crappy as our computer, and it would never be able to run this game. So I put the CD case in the back of a drawer, to be forgotten, even though I would occasionally get a glimpse of it and remember the deception.
Then, four years and a finally decent computer later, I remembered it and dusted off the CD. I installed it again, and it finally worked!
No matter what I did, the game was forever forbidden to me. I just had time to try the tutorial during my initial session, and now the game wouldn’t start again. The CD returned to the dark corner of my drawer, nagging me as before.
jump four more years forward. I remembered something called the internet existed, and sure enough my problem was a known one and there was just a few more files to fix it. third time’s the charm, I installed the game, applied the fix and finally played the game.
and finally realized that game was crap
I tossed the CD in the trash, almost hearing it mocking me after all these years of teasing.
KIREEK has a rude awakening:
First day of college. 3,000 miles away from home. Cocky that I was the best at Starcraft, we play a game to see who will get to choose their bed in the dorm. I lost and (despite all the good memories that took place in the very same bed) every night I literally rested in my shame.
RogerMurdock encounters a new kind of “limited edition”:
When the original Deus Ex was released, I had heard great things about it, so I was looking forward to purchasing it at some point. I was patient, though, as I really didn’t want to pay full price.
Fast forward some indeterminate amount of time and I was browsing through the PC games section at Best Buy (remember when we used to actually buy PC games off the shelf?) and saw “Deux Ex Limited Edition” in the bargain rack for just $5! Score! Insta-buy, obviously.
I installed it, played it, and had a blast. Somewhat early in the game, though, after making it to a particular checkpoint, the game was interrupted and the game gave me the message that I was at the end of the limited edition and for more levels/content, I needed to purchase the full game.
Then it hit me. Ho-ly shit. When the game was labeled as a “Limited Edition,” it LITERALLY meant that the game was limited. What the fuck?
I took it back to Best Buy and asked for a refund. They obviously said that since it was opened, I could only exchange it for the same game. I tried to explain to the manager that this is the only example in human history that the phrase “Limited Edition” did not mean “Special Edition” or “Edition Produced in Limited Quantities,” and that it has never actually meant “Incomplete Edition.”
I did not win my argument.
Putting in a legitimate game disc bought at target (hitman 2 PC) and having the screen go black with the words “formatting hard drive” followed by a clean install of windows 98.
Buying a gtx970, getting far cry 4 for free and the game not loading the models for enemies. So basically you’ll be walking around and suddenly get shot or eaten with nothing there and then after the death itd load the enemies.
Reached out to ubi-soft to get support and getting NOTHING but blaming my rig.
3.5GHZ 8 core processor with 8GB of ram and a gtx970. It should be perfectly capable of playing farcry 4.
I even turned the graphics down to medium and it still doesnt work.
So… one time I came home to blow off steam in a PvP FPS that shall remain unnamed (PC). I’ve put literally hundreds of hours into the game, and have had success beating the very difficult “horde modes” (earning an achievement that 0.8% of other Steam users have earned).
I’m not bragging – what I mean to say is that this is a game I’m intimately familiar with and I do consistently well in.
Anyway, a long week of work meant I needed to blow off some steam (pun not intended). As you do, I logged in and started up a team vs team match. I was NOT playing in good form. It wasn’t lag – I was just playing poorly. I had entered that negative feedback loop of where the worse I played, the worse I played.
Anyway, it wasn’t until after 15 minutes of continuous swearing I realized that a bunch of people were laughing at someone in the game. And then I realized, my mic was on the entire time. I was raging for a good 10-12 minutes, at life in general, and the whole time I thought I was muted.
Yeah. That was not a good day for me.
ackus has a heartbreaker:
2002 – I hear there’s a new Jedi Knight/Dark Forces game coming out that has crazy lightsaber combat (I never played Jedi Knight 1) and something-thousand (?) polygons on Kyle Katarn. I re-read the preview article on PC Gamer for months, marveling at how pretty it looks. I’m 13 and still use my dad’s computer to play crummy old games that came with the PC he bought several years earlier. I’ve never been this excited for a game before and my family can see that.
November 2002 – the game releases, I read and re-read the amazing review for Jedi Outcast in PC Gamer for several months – I don’t have money to buy the game (my parents didn’t believe in allowance). I literally dream of being a Jedi and what it’d be like to have force powers because of this game (yeah I know I’m 13, I don’t care. Aren’t kids this age still daydreaming about stuff like that?)
Fast forward several months to my birthday. It’s a Friday, which means after school I’m allowed to play video games (video games were not allowed during the week). Even better, my parents decide to pull me out of school at lunch to celebrate my birthday. Let’s add that up again: Friday, video game day, out of school early, it was a beautiful sunny day, AND it’s my birthday. Typing this out makes me feel as if this were yesterday… How else can this get better?
That’s right, my parents bought me Jedi Outcast; and no, not just the game itself, but the freaking Collector’s Edition that comes with the previous Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games and a cool light-up lightsaber keychain all in a metal box! I still remember this being one of the happiest I had felt in my life. This leads to the point of me writing this… something that just remembering it now makes me pretty sad for my past self.
I go to install the game on my dad’s computer, boot it up, and get < 5 FPS and absolutely no textures – just rainbow colors everywhere and polygons clipping through any and everything on screen. This is even at the lowest graphics settings. My heart sank. My mom could see I was devastated. I remember going to my room and crying. A whole year’s dream, crushed in an instant. Luckily after a month or so of pestering my dad, my mom convinced him to upgrade the computer so that I could play Jedi Outcast. I eventually was able to, and did with great graphical settings, but it took about a month of sadness to get to that point. To his day, I won’t even try to play a PC game unless I know my computer can handle it at max settings.
The Battlefield 4 launch. I mean sure, I’ve had hardware hiccups from time to time, but I know my stuff and those are easy to fix. I’ve kept an aging Westmere i7 980 system running like a boss since 2010, holding out for Skylake-E for my next build. Nothing I’ve experienced can compare with the frustration of Battlefield 4. I took several days off work to travel to a friend’s place for a long weekend of awesome gaming. We barely made it to level 10. We’d be in servers, racking up points, doing well, game would crash. Tried multiple fixes, from updating drivers, to completely reinstalling drivers, to completely reinstalling the game, browser updates, origin updates, un-parking CPU cores, and an eventual wipe and reformat and reinstall of Windows 7. All to no avail. The worst part was, the crashes were completely random. We’d have times where all of us were doing just fine, for hours on end, but one person couldn’t get the game to work. Then, they’d get the game to work, and someone else’s game would start crashing. I have never seen so much nerd rage.
The confusingly named Tina Amini shared this post shares some frustration:
Dealing with the fucking subscription system for Final Fantasy XIV. Between my bank locking my card because it was being charged to Japan and Square’s fucked up subscription system, it took me almost a day and a half before I had to trick my bank by buying “crystals” through PayPal to subscribe for a couple months.
After that period expired, I just gave up. Haven’t played it since.
SWG [Star Wars Galaxies] before NGE [new game enhancement].
The times when being a Jedi means, dying means character reset.
The times where Jedis were gods.
Also the time where Internet connection is expensive and unstable.
My Jedi in Bria server was ganged in a cantina. Not the first time it ever happened. In fact, it happened so often that people start RP-ing the situation, and well, we all enjoyed it. I mean, I never lost, and when they died, they can just respawn.
It was a dark, cold, stormy night. I was attacked by no less than 10 people (a few were bounty hunters, forgot how many). Some even brought a flamethrower.
Then the electricity came off.
When it was back up again, my character was gone, and I got people APOLOGIZING to me that they should’ve stopped when they noticed I stopped responding in RP chat…
Those were…. dark days.
But very much memorable.
Ihsus boils it down to one image:
My possibly worst experience that I can think of comes from Ubisoft/uPlay DRM situation around the era of AC:II, when I would get booted from non multiplayer games anytime my [back then barely broadband network] would have a hiccup.
I remember arguing with a guy on their customer service, and he must have been sick of his job, because he told me that I should just pirate a cracked version.
Bought Tales From The Borderlands on an Ubisoft sale, which requires a uplay account. Okay.
Go to boot up the game, and it won’t load until I make a Telltale account. Annoying, but whatever. Fine.
Download episode 2 the other day, and it says I have to open a browser and download a patch to make episode 2 work. Grrr…
Download the patch, which is “not compatible with your version”. Okay- now what? Go to the Telltale forums, where they have a sticky instructing people to uninstall the whole game and redownload their new launcher, THEN redownload the patch. Seriously?
When it’s not my hardware it’s Ubisoft and their DRM. Remember when it was always online? I do. There was 1 splinter cell in particular that required a net connection. Guess who had the bad luck to play during my 1 week of spotty internet? I played through the last levels of Splinter Cell (Conviction I think?) in spurts of 15 seconds. You can’t get a lot done in 15 seconds.
Edgar Allan Bro takes it in another direction:
Master of Orion III’s DRM disabled my anti-virus software and froze my computer for, like, ten minutes doing god knows what. And Masters of Orion III was a terrible game, to boot.
Priyesh and the scourge of Securom:
Getting Bioshock on PC at midnight, excited to play! Go home and install the game.. try to launch it and Securom servers are down >:(
I start playing it, I’m having fun and when an intense battle starts my computer reboots itself… turns out my graphics card (nVidia GT 7300) was not good enough so I had to turn the settings way down to even play the game. :\
Spending money on Far Cry 3 and it not running due to Ubisoft’s shitty DRM. Then contacting Ubisoft and them basically saying cant help you too bad. Downloaded a crack and boom it works like a charm. Lesson learned dont buy any games from Ubisoft since they’ll treat you like a pirate… the irony of which you’re better off being one.
Zyion reminds us why we should never forget Spore:
I have a fairly bad story about Spore’s DRM that basically screwed my friend out of $60.
So basically, he bought Spore and created an online account. Turns out he either forgot the password or made a mistake in typing the information for the account he made. He’d figure to instead just create a new account instead of going through the trouble of account recovery since he just started playing and wasn’t going to lose anything important. Turned out Maxis didn’t like people creating multiple accounts on the same install, because Maxis forever locked his CD key. He called up customer support to try to resolve the issue, but they basically told him that they can’t do anything other then offer to sell him another CD key. And that was the moment that he stopped paying for any Maxis game ever.
I had a similar issue where they basically deleted my account on Spore. The account had been inactive for a little over a year and any attempts to try and recover it failed. The account wasn’t even listed in the database when I did a search for it. So my CD key also turned into a pumpkin.
danjohns7 sums it up:
Everything having to do with Games for Windows Live, UPlay, or anything else in combination with Steam.
Those are just a sampling; there are plenty of other stories here. If you wrote one, thanks for sharing! And to those who play games on PC: Keep on truckin’, and if you see flames coming out of your case, it’s probably just that old biscuit catching fire.
Image via Shutterstock.
To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected].
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