Disappointment of the Year 2012

Oh, I think you should.

“Let me check my math again.”

Given the amount of pixels this blog devoted to the ultimate selectee for Disappointment of the Year, long-time readers of Pocket Tactics won’t be too surprised when they get past the jump.

The Disappointment of the Year wasn’t just a single game, it was a whole ecosystem that failed to live up to its hype – and left us with a little less faith in gaming and tech media when it was through.

2012’s Disappointment of the Year can only be Goko.

Goko arrived on the scene this August with a public relations carpet bombing campaign that spread from niche gaming media like BGG and Kotaku to household names like TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal. The long-promised HTML 5 revolution was here, carried on the wings of Goko – a venture-funded startup that was bringing true cross-platform browser-based board gaming to the masses. Using Goko’s platform, you’d be able to use your Android tablet to play a game against your friend, half a world away on his iPad. The first game to launch (one of hundreds whose exclusive rights they’d acquired) was going to be Dominion, one of the most popular games in the world.

An affair to forget.

Choke-o.

An extraordinary promise – and one that Goko utterly failed to meet. The Goko experience was a buggy, crash-prone mess that ran poorly on PCs, to say nothing of tablets or mobile devices. Beta testers said that the service had been awful for months and expressed disbelief that Goko had chosen to launch to the public in such a state. Especially when compared to the recent high-quality board game conversions rendered as native apps by devs like Playdek and Coding Monkeys, Goko was a dog. Two days after their high-profile launch, Goko shut its doors to the public and went back into closed beta.

Goko’s collapse was disappointing in itself – but a much bigger let-down was Goko’s exposure of the fundamental unreliability of gaming and tech media on the whole. The majority of outlets who’d found Goko’s launch worthy of coverage didn’t bother to report on that launch’s failure. TechCrunch, long the paper of record for the Silicon Valley startup scene, never followed up, nor did most gaming outlets who had trumpeted the HTML 5 revolution. Blogs and newspapers regurgitating press releases are nothing new, but the way Goko went from story to non-story overnight is still a little jarring.

Reports from the recently re-opened Goko suggest that their core product is getting better – but they’re never going to have another chance to make a first impression.

For all the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2012 Awards, visit the awards index page.