Around the end of last year, I expressed my desire to see the Hottest Mess category return to Giant Bomb, even if it needed to come to the forums rather than Game of the Year discussions. Hottest Mess 2022 got a pretty good response, both in the call for candidates and in the voting. I meant to post something a week after the vote, but life got in the way until the topic felt moot. Recently, a friend and I began brainstorming entries for Hottest Mess 2023, so I thought I would take the temperature with the community while some first-half news was still fresh in our minds. Below is a preliminary list of Hottest Mess candidates for the year to date, with a couple caveats first.
I posted a blurb about ground rules for what I personally consider a Hottest Mess candidate, which I'll just copy-paste here: "I understand why the category was discontinued: none of the following compare to the biggest problems in the gaming industry. Those include harassment, abuse, grooming, threats, discrimination, exploitation, and layoffs. Some of these issues are even factors in the candidates listed below. However, these are also a huge bummer and the point of this category is to have some fun, at least as I see it." Since then, this very site experienced layoffs, and games media appears to be in even more dire straits than last fall. Some of the candidates below touch on these topics, but there are other angles that make it more complex than a pure bummer. Let me know if you feel differently.
Second, I've made the decision to make finalists from 2022 ineligible. So congratulations, Microsoft, your bizarre journeys in acquiring ABK will avoid becoming the Hottest Mess of 2023. If you really want to talk about this issue still, I assure you there are plenty of venues for it.
Hottest Mess 2022 Winner: Hellena Taylor's campaign against Bayonetta 3 (38% of the vote)
Hottest Mess 2022 Runners-Up: Microsoft's attempted acquisition of Activision-Blizzard and subsequent war of words with Sony (11%); Mick Gordon vs. Bethesda on Doom Eternal's soundtrack (11%)
Honorable Mention: Tommy Tallarico, who may have been counting on this award to pad his display case, missed the cut with 10%.
- Crime Boss: Rockay City, which looked virtually unplayable at times on UPF
- E3 2023, which was cancelled after a questionable attempt at resurrection
- Elden Ring's ray-tracing, which made the game perform worse on every platform
- The Embracer Group's leadership, after the company hemorrhaged value as its acquisition strategy faltered
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, which made Blight Club in the same year it was released
- Metacritic user reviews, whose more homophobic users review-bombed Horizon Forbidden West DLC
- Overwatch 2, which cancelled its PvE Hero Mode and arguably its reason to exist as a sequel
- PC ports riddled with bugs, most notably Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and The Last of Us, Part 1
- Redfall, which flopped right out of the gate
- Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, which had a terrible preview showing and was delayed indefinitely afterwards
- Six Days in Fallujah, which honestly I'm putting here just so we can track what a shitshow the leadup will be
- Twisted Metal (TV show), which both looked terrible and forced talk-overs to rework their VODs
- Twitch, which changed (or attempted to) its payouts and branded content permissions
- Winter 2023's live service game graveyard, where a dominant game format began to meet its end
I'll add any suggestions to my Notes app and return to this thread late in the year when I prepare the year-end poll. Thanks in advance to anyone who contributes and/or calls me names.