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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, game specialists, TopRatedCasinos, release research that shows POKEMON is the most frustrating game on the market.

Frustrating Games

Have you ever played a video game, got stuck on a level and despaired at your lack of progress? You’re certainly not alone: game theorist Jesper Juul once stated “failure is central to player enjoyment of games”. But at what stage does a video game become so difficult and frustrating that it angers players?

Games specialist sought to establish which computer or console game proved the toughest for players, based on recent game sales statistics. Once these were sourced, scraped review data from a leading games review site, searching for keywords such as ‘difficult’ and ‘hard’ to establish which games  frustrate and irritate players the most. The results are rather surprising…

  Video game Number of reviews % Negative Reviews
#1 Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl 524 10.69%
#2 NBA 2K21 509 9.43%
#3 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 1,710 9.24%
#4 Mortal Kombat 11 1,220 8.93%
#5 Animal Crossing: New Horizon 3,898 8.52%
#6 Grand Theft Auto 5 4,520 8.45%
#7 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 555 7.39%
#8 Far Cry 6 1,386 6.85%
#9 Red Dead Redemption 2 7,749 6.67%
#10 Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 885 5.99%

Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond – 10.69%, 1st Place

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In a surprising first place is Pokemon, with modern remakes of its hit 2006 Nintendo DS games Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl proving the most challenging for reviewers. As reported in outlet The Gamer, the new Elite tier designed to challenge players is causing consternation, with the tiered battle system proving a lot to get to grips with.

Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (combined) garnered 524 reviews, with a remarkable 10.69% containing frustrated or negative terms towards the difficulty of the game

NBA 2K21 – 9.43%, 2nd Place

In second place is the hit basketball game NBA 2K21. With 9.43% of reviews (or almost 1 in 10 people) complaining about the game’s difficulty, it ranks second on our list of the most frustrating video games of 2021.

With a new shooting mode released with the game, players were quick to criticise this feature, with review outlet Republic World claiming that “the shooting has become extremely difficult, so difficult that (players) can’t even make free throws”. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – 9.24%, 3rd Place

The hugely popular first person shooter series Call of Duty features in third place on our list of 2021’s most frustrating video games according to player reviews. Whilst the important basics of the game mechanics stay the same as its predecessors, Cold War also includes ‘calling cards’, achievements designed to let players personalise their profiles through unlockable challenges. However, esteemed game reviewers GameRant stated that Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was “full of…calling cards to obtain, with some of these tasks being insanely tough”.

These very hard challenges caused frustration amongst players in 2021, with over 9.24% of player’s reviews complaining for the significant difficulty they faced.

Honourable mention: Grand Theft Auto 5 – 8.45%, 6th Place

The venerable old-timer of GTA V still features on the best-selling list of 2021, in which this data is based. This is remarkable, as the game has spanned 3 generations of console over 9 years, much longer than most video games last in the current market. However, of the 2021 reviews for GTA V, 8.45% complained of the difficulty of the game.

Particular issues centre on the in-game economy, with vehicle and firearm prices skyrocketing since the game’s inception in 2013. As such, gamers complained about the difficulty in gaining sufficient in-game money to enjoy the experience.


  1. wanted to discover which of the best selling games of 2021 were regarded as the most frustrating and difficult for players
  2. Only games that featured in the top 25 top selling games of 2021 (UK) were considered in this piece.
  3. For each of these games, only those with significant single player content were included (for example, Battlefield 2042 was excluded from this piece as it has no single player campaign).
  4. For each of these games, amalgamated reviews from a leading games review site were obtained for every platform the game is available on. Only games with at least 500 reviews were considered.
  5. The text of these reviews were cleaned using NLP techniques, and then were parsed for words that would imply they thought the game was difficult. The words searched for were: Hard, difficult, frustrating, annoying (and variations of these words)
  6. Each game was percentranked on the ratio between the count of each of those words, and the total number of reviews (this is, for example, the average number of mentions of “difficult” per review). These percentranks were averaged to get an overall final score.
  7. Game information comes courtesy of courses such as The Financial Times, The Gamer, GameRant and more.
  8. All data was collected on 17/08/2022 and is correct as of then, but subject to change.
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